Some people have a capacity to handle problems with grace and hope. They don't become bitter, but better. The difference is perspective.
The key to perspective in the midst of problems is experiencing God. We can push through the problems to sense God's presence, hear God's voice, and seek God's insight. If we listen for the still, small voice, God will sometimes give us an analogy that will give us perspective and clarity about the trials and troubles we face.
Recently, I gained greater perspective and clarity through an insight God gave to Jack Elliston.
One of our elders at Cuyahoga Valley Church is Eddie Elliston, Dean at Indiana Weslyan here in NE Ohio. Recently, Eddie asked the elders to join him in prayer for some of life's challenges his son Jack has been experiencing. It has been a privilege to stand with Eddie and his wife, Donna, in prayer for Jack. It's obvious that they have a deep love for their son. They are also proud of how their son is rexponding to his challenges.
Jack shared with his family and friends how God has given him perspective. I was profoundly encouraged by his insights. I asked his permission to share his experience with God to encourage the readers of my blog. What follows is the perspective God has given Jack. His perspective has helped me. Maybe it will help you, too.
"Earlier this week, while sitting around out in a training area with the National Guard, God spoke the following to me:
'I am strong!
I have been tempered by the storm.
Heated in the storm's forge by millions of volts of lightning then quenched by driving rain.
I am strong, by God's design.'
In an effort to understand it more myself I did a little reading on tempering and what it means.
As I read about tempering steel I realized that I needed to understand another process first, hardening steel. (This is what I thought tempering was.) To process steel into its hardest state, the metal worker heats the metal to a very high temperature then rapidly cools it (e.g. red hot metal into water). This hardens the metal but it may not be suitable for its intended purpose. Although the steel may now be hard but it is also relatively brittle.
Tempering is the process of carefully and precisely reheating the metal to reduce the hardness and to introduce the desired level of ductility (think flexibility) back into the metal. The temperatures and various variables are all dependent on the makeup of the metal and the end use of the metal. (Vehicle leaf-springs need different properties than support beams in buildings.) All this is done very carefully with both the nature of the metal being worked and the end produce/purpose in mind.
Consider a high-end sword. It will often be hardened to give the cutting edge a very hard unyielding surface and then the spine (the non-sharpened part) will be tempered giving the sword the flexibility needed not to break.
What, you are thinking, does this have to do with the declaration above?
Apply this to one's spiritual walk. Often times life's issues, trials, and hardships make us 'hard'. We are resolute, we are fixed, we 'know' what we know. But are we ready for what God wants of us? God may need to apply just a little more carefully applied 'heat' to 'soften' us in critical places so that we are prepared for job He has for us.
To be the 'strong' steel tool He intends us to be involves both hardening and tempering in the correct mixture for His purpose.
Remember, He is the master metal worker. He knows your makeup. He know your intended purpose and He know just how much 'hardening' and 'tempering' you need for the job He has in store for you. The mixture you need will be different from what someone else needs because you are different and your purpose is different. Remember too, He never sleeps or takes His eyes off you during the process."
That's clarity. That's depth of insight. That's perspective. I am thankful that Jack has passed along the perspective God has given him.
May the Lord continue to come close to Jack and speak His life-giving truth into Jack's life. And may He do that for you, too.
Question: What analogies has God given you to help you gain perspective?