Journeys of Faithfulness, ch. 5: Where I Fix My Eyes

journeys[box] Read chapter 5 in Journeys of Faithfulness.[/box] It has been a very hard six months, adoption-wise. It still is. There are moments when I despair that the reality we know now will be all there is.

Blank looks.

Constant repetition.

Exhaustion.

Two steps back for every step forward.

Grief.

Fear.

Discouragement.

Doubt.

There have been days when I just keep silent because I am afraid I will regret what will come out of my mouth. And so it just sits in my soul, in my spirit, and I feel so alone. What has started out so well has turned into a struggle that I fear will never end. There are days when I wish that I will wake out of this nightmare only to find that it isn't just a bad dream but reality.

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus' mother, Mary, felt the same way. When the glory of the angel faded, when the visit with Elizabeth was over, when she was installed back into her home and community, she had to face some very hard things.

Snide comments.

Blatant accusations.

Threats.

Loss of friends.

Averted eyes.

Whispers behind her back.

Abandonment.

Shame.

Grief.

Fear.

Discouragement.

Doubt.

I have a feeling that Mary went through a very hard time too.

If you live long enough, you will inevitably find yourself in that position too. Maybe you're in that same position yourself. The key is not about how to get out of it as quick as possible but how to be victorious in that journey. I'm so tempted to run away, hide, and hope that things will get better on its own.

This is where I've really been challenged this week. Sarah puts it this way:

“When it comes right down to it, everything I believe in lies just beyond my touch. But my love of God drives me to live in a certain way and compels me to picture my hope in my words, my actions, and the set of my face as I encounter the world daily. Though the world is fallen, God’s goodness can still be seen there, and the promise of restoration is at the center of my hope. By learning to see His grace, I learn to survive, to be strong, to bear the hurt of living in a fallen world. To look for beauty, to fix your eyes on the starlight, is to live out hope in the perfection of God.” (p. 99-100, emphasis mine)

It really all depends on where I look. Am I looking at my circumstances? Or am I training myself to look for the unseen and often hidden evidences of God's goodness? Where I choose to fix my eyes will determine whether I walk out of this defeated or victorious.

This isn't really a new idea. Jesus Himself had to do this.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis mine)

Because He focused on the joy set before Him, I too am exhorted to run with perseverance, fixing my eyes on Jesus, my example, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

I know I tend to be a pessimist. More so now than when I was younger. Sometimes it seems like it will take all of my energy to lift my head to even look up. But look up I must, or the weight of my circumstances will push me under.

As we talked about last week, we are living in Act Three, but we must always remember Act Four is still to come. Life here isn't a Disneyland theme park. It hurts. It wounds. It stings. We are in the midst of a battle. Sometimes we are on the front lines. And the battle may be to face the enemy, refusing to listen to his words of doubt, discouragement and despair.

Where do you fix your eyes? What is your focus? For where we fix our eyes may determine the next scene in our story.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.--2 Cor. 4:18

Reflection questions:

  • How might understanding God's story make a difference in my perspective during difficult times?
  • What are some ways we can train our eyes to look at God?
  • Think about a past or present trial or difficult circumstance. Where can you find glimpses of God?
  • Sarah shares how she and her brother helped each other out during a season of discouragement and doubt. How can we help others who are struggling with doubt right now? How can we help them to focus on God without giving pat answers or shallow cliches?
  • If you're using this as a discipleship tool: consider sharing a difficult time in your life and how God helped you to walk through it.