Sometimes when I’m trying to fall asleep, I like to take inventory in my mind of the lessons I’ve learned. It can be things like my favorite college lectures, sermons I’ve heard on the book of Matthew, or how to change the oil in my car. I like to keep things fresh, I guess. You know what my favorite subject is?
Lessons I’ve learned from my mom.
If I listed out the lessons that have been taught to me over the years, my mom’s list would be the longest. You see, my mother possesses the kind of wisdom that can’t be taught. It’s a natural ability to see clearly the problem at hand and pursue a solution with justness and grace. It’s God-given talent–no two ways about that. And I have been lucky enough to be the subject (and occasional victim, when I’ve been particularly difficult to handle) of her wisdom for these last twenty some odd years.
The lesson I settled on most recently was one that has stuck with me from childhood. As I recall, I didn’t quite get it when it first came around but I remember, vividly, as it began to sink in.
“You cannot see the forest for the trees.”
It’s this idea that when something hurts us or causes struggle, whether it be by our own or some one else’s doing or simply
a bad hand we’ve been dealt, we tend to focus on that and that alone. It becomes all-consuming, stealing every last ounce of effort and energy we have in us until we see nothing but that one thing. We beat our hearts bloody against these issues and find ourselves certain that there will never be another day lived without this pain and we’ll never find respite from this trouble.
It’s being defined, limited, or fueled by only one thing. One tree, if you will. And forgetting about the other trees that make up the rest of the forest. Or your life, if you will.
Right now, in this season, I’m missing the forest and all I can see is one big, ugly tree. It might be the biggest tree I’ve ever encountered but, really, there is still an entire forest that does not depend on that one tree to be a forest. The sheer size of this behemoth has robbed me of perspective. I’ve forgotten that I’m more than one thing: I’m a Yosemite full of trees.
I think Peter understood this concept. In chapter 5 of 1 Peter, he tells us this:
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
What are you being faced with right now? Is it a bad job, a hurtful relationship, or maybe even a sin that you just cannot escape? There is hope for you, my friend. Shift your perspective and consider that your life is a forest–that this is one thing but it is not the only thing. Though you may desperately hurt now–though you may struggle for this period of time–you will not always. You have strength, establishment, confirmation, and a perfected heart on the way. Please do not get stuck in front of this tree. However big it is, I can guarantee that your God is bigger. Pray for a heart full of discernment and earnestly ask: Is this a tree you should walk away from or one that you need to stay and save? Remind yourself that you are more than just this. See the forest for the forest and not only for the trees.
And whatever you do, just remember that you will last longer than your suffering and you will see relief, in one way or another, in this lifetime and, ultimately, you will experience relief for all of eternity. Your God cares for you. He also protects you. So this week, let’s focus on that perspective. I recommend reading the rest of 1 Peter. More hope is found within those pages than I could ever begin to convey here.
And now, here’s a joke: Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party? Because he had no body to go with.
Jelly Bean Enthusiast