When you drive your car…wouldn’t you say that you gaze out the front window and glance occasionally in your rear and side view mirrors? Sounds logical…right? Sounds like the instructions you were given in driving school…right?
Well, what would happen if you did the opposite? What if you glanced out the front window and gazed in your rear and side view mirrors? You would most likely find yourself headed down a disastrous road! …and most probably crash! Right?
And that’s what many of us do when we face problems in our lives…We tend to gaze at our problems…we tend to focus on our problems…which consequently results in us heading down a disastrous and sometimes deadly road…a road more often than not characterized by intense worry…fear…anxiety…and stress!
And have you ever found yourself while driving…glancing just a little too long in the rear or side view mirrors and when you finally look in front of you again…you see the car in front of you with their brakes on…and then you slam on your breaks?
That’s usually when we realize that we need to refocus our focus and keep our eyes on the road in front of us!
And that’s what some of us may need to do today…refocus our focus on God.
“To gaze” is defined…“to look or fix your eyes steadily or intently at someone or something.”
“To glance” is defined…“to look at someone or something very quickly”.
Many of us have the tendency to gaze at our problems…and only glance at God. When we need to gaze at God…and only glance at our problems!
I was inspired this week by the popular devotional “Jesus Today” by Sarah Young and by our current women’s bible study called “Choose Joy” by Kay Warren…which by the way…I highly recommend both in encouraging you in your relationship with Jesus!
I thought I would share Sarah Young’s short devotion…. And if you aren’t familiar with Sarah’s writing style you will quickly notice she writes as if Jesus is speaking to you.
Gaze at Me; Glance at problems – THIS is the secret of living victoriously. Your tendency is to gaze at problems for prolonged periods of time, glancing at Me for help. This is natural for someone with a fallen mind living in a fallen world. However, I have called you to live supernaturally, and I have empowered you to do so. The Holy Spirit, who lives in all my followers, enables you to live beyond yourself – to transcend your natural tendencies. Ask My Spirit to help you fix your gaze on Me. Invite him to alert you whenever you get overly focused on your problems so you can redirect your attention to Me. This is hard work, because it is not only unnatural but also countercultural. Moreover, the evil one and his demons seek to distract you from My Presence. All these influences working together put massive pressure on you to pay attention to your problems – or else! So you need the assistance of My Spirit continually. Ask Him to help you deal with difficulties as needed, while reserving the bulk of your attention for Me – your constant companion.
I know that “Gazing at God and Glancing at our Problems” is sometimes easier said than done especially when we are facing difficult circumstances in life…whether we are dealing with issues involving our health….marriage or relationships…job or finances…or painful experiences as a result of grief and losses.
But as Sarah shared… “THIS is the secret to living victoriously!”
By gazing at God and glancing at our problems we aren’t denying or ignoring the problems we are facing…we are merely shifting our focus from our problems to God.
In the Bible, Daniel is a great example of someone who gazed at God…and glanced at his problems. Many of us have heard the story of Daniel spending the night in the Lion’s Den. If you are not familiar with this story…I highly recommend you read Daniel 6 sometime on your own.
To summarize, Daniel was sent into the Lion’s Den to ultimately be killed and eaten by lions as punishment for not following a decree that went out requiring everyone in Babylon to worship the king…King Darius. Well, Daniel didn’t worship the king…he worshipped God.
So he spent the night with the lions…and some say he slept with the lions all night. This is so significant! Why?
Because if Daniel had been focused on the lions he wouldn’t have been sleeping much! If Daniel was focused on the lions he would have been so fearful and worried for his life that he would have probably attempted to hide in the corner hoping the lions didn’t see him!
There are actually many pictures in books and paintings that depict this scene with Daniel in the Lion’s Den. And interestingly…many of these depictions show Daniel…surrounded by these hungry lions…not gazing at the lions…but gazing at God.
Daniel didn’t have his eyes on the lions…he had his eyes on God. He trusted God. And consequently…God shut the mouth of these lions and delivered Daniel!
When we gaze at our problems…they appear bigger…and we become more fearful…more worried…and more overwhelmed.
When we gaze at God…He becomes bigger…and we feel more confident and peaceful…and can actually sleep and rest…in the midst of our problems…like Daniel!
A great acronym for WORRY is…
Trusting in God will give you peace…greater peace knowing that your problems are in the hands of someone who can handle them much better than you can!
One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 26:3.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! NLT
What lions are you focusing and fixed on today? Are you gazing at the lions in your life or are you gazing at God…the one who has the power to shut the mouths of your lions?
Here are some great scriptures to help us focus on God…
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 KJV
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… Hebrews 12:2 NASB
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. Hebrews 3:1 NIV
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT
We need to gaze at God…and glance at our problems.
We need to magnify our Master…and minimize our mountains!
We need to focus on our Savior…instead of focusing on our situation!
We need to cast our cares on Christ…instead of our cares casting us down a road of worry…fear…and anxiety!
So how can we do this? How can we gaze at God in the midst of our problems?
1) Praise Him
When we praise and thank God in the midst of our problems, we shift our focus off of our problems…off of ourselves…and onto our God.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19 NIV
2) Pray to Him
When we pray to God in the midst of our problems, we are relying on Him and His power to help us and strengthen us…instead of relying on our own strength.
God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, No matter how desperate the trouble. Nahum 1:7 MSG
Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
And so it is when we gaze at God…and glance at our problems, we can experience the peace and joy that God has for each and every one us!
- What problems or difficult circumstances are facing today?
- Are you glancing at God and gazing at your problems…finding yourself fearful, worried and overwhelmed?
- Do you need to refocus your focus on God today?
- Do you need to gaze at God and trust Him more in the midst of your problems?
- How can you gaze at God and just glance at your problems?
Please review how you can gaze at God and glance at your problems. Begin praising Him and praying to Him in order to shift your focus.