No, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be! SIN was not intended to be part of God’s creation, but…it is. Now what? Lesson 5 of Loving God with All Your Mind was postponed last week, because I had spent several days ministering to a friend after her surgery. And I have spent the time since in what my doctor has referred to as an “inflammation storm” which seems to be how my body responds to stress, be it physical or mental. And I admit, sometimes I’m a little ticked off about that because, “This isn’t the way it was supposed to be!”
This entire study takes a deep look at Philippians 4:8 and encourages us to take that verse to heart and focus on TRUTH. Some would say, “This IS truth! The truth is, it stinks! I’m angry!” So does that make it OK? Aren’t we focusing on truth? Let’s look closer at this verse.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8
We have two options when it comes to to the TRUTH about our present situations:
- We can focus on the negative…the pain, the grief, the fear…I could go on.
- OR we can focus on the peace, the love, the growth, the grace…and again, I could go on.
We must take ALL of this verse in Philippians into consideration. Yes, we are to fix our thoughts on truth. But what about when that TRUTH is painful, difficult or just downright lousy. Paul directs us here to turn our focus AWAY from all the negative, and to look at what is GOOD.
IS there GOOD here? Is there GOOD in being in so much pain that I’m fighting the battle of dealing with it vs taking a narcotic? Is there GOOD in the death of a parent, friend or child? I observe these all around me. I’ve dealt with some of them myself. The enemy does NOT want us focusing on the good. But it IS THERE! We are told to FIND IT!
This doesn’t just pertain to present pain. How many times do we look back, back to what has come and gone, with “if only…” on our hearts. If only chronic illness wasn’t in my family…I wouldn’t have to deal with it and neither would BOTH of my sons. If only my mother had experienced one of those peaceful deaths I heard so much about. If only my other two babies had lived! If only my friend’s son had not died in that car accident! If only my friend’s husband had not left her and her children for another woman. If only! If only…
Those “if only’s” draw our focus AWAY from Christ, away from what is good, lovely, and praise-worthy. The enemy is ECSTATIC when he succeeds in distracting us! So what do we do when we are so caught up in our past…past pain, past failures, past loss…
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11
Psalm 77 is the perfect passage for this type of circumstance. The writer takes the first half of the psalm agonizing over the arrogance and good fortune of the wicked of his day. When you get to verse 17 it all changes. “Then I went into the sanctuary of the Lord…” The latter half of the psalm overflows with verse after verse of praise and thanksgiving to God. What happened? He got on his knees before the Lord, gazing into His wonderful face. “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” (I know. It seemed appropriate though.)
God DOES want us to look back, but not to set our gaze on the bad things in our lives. Just the opposite. He wants us to look back and see HIM! His grace, His provision, His comfort, His strength. I can look back at each example I gave above, from my life and those of my friends, and see the hand of God at work. How?
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Some things? No. ALL things. Whether it be illness, infidelity, pain or death, God uses the corrupt things in this life to bring about good in the lives of His people.