The sun is shining, the sky is blue and there’s a gentle breeze in the air. Depending on where I sit at my desk, all I see is sunshine and blue skies. However, if I shift my view just a little, I quickly come back to the reality of winter as the ground is covered in snow. Looks are deceiving at times. Perspective truly is everything. We live in a world of masks. Some people wear happy masks. Others wear masks of despair. Some hide despair by putting on a happy mask. While it is possible to go through life with a sense of joy at all times, it takes more than just putting on a happy mask in order to hide pain.
In theological talk words such as fatalism and avoidance or denial are used. Fatalism lives in a world where everything is falling apart all the time. No matter what, something fatal is lurking around the corner. On the other side of such thinking is avoidance. One that says all is well, no matter what’s going on. Avoidance leads to denial, and living in a constant state of denial is never a good place either. It’s important to find a balance.
Through the years I’ve adopted a saying “Blessed and highly favoured”. When someone asks how I’m doing I quickly respond – “Blessed and highly favoured”. Does this mean life is perfect? No not at all. However, attitude truly does help set a positive tone for whatever is going on. I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth repeating. Paul encourages us in Philippians 4 to “rejoice in the Lord always”. Paul knew heartache. Paul knew persecution. He also writes “I know how to live in abundance and I know how to live in lack”. However, through it all, when we know our peace comes from God and we “rejoice always” our attitude changes. A friend of mine recently wrote on Facebook; “Learn to be happy even when it looks like there is nothing to be happy about. Have faith”. She then posted the following saying – “False: When things change, I will be happy. True: When I am happy, things will change”.
I’ve recently been reading the story of Ruth, a Moabite woman, in the Old Testament. Ruth – the daughter-in-law of Naomi – found herself in a foreign land with her mother-in-law after her husband died. Naomi told Ruth she did not have to follow her back home to Bethlehem. However, Ruth decided to stay with her mother-in-law and left her home country. She finds herself taking care of her mother-in-law in a strange land with no husband and no family. Both Ruth and Naomi found themselves in what looked like a lost situation. But Ruth did not give up hope.
Just how hopeless was their situation? When they returned to Bethlehem Naomi told her relatives not to call her by her given name. Instead she said “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty”. But, even in the midst of what appeared on the surface to be a hopeless situation, God had a plan of redemption already in mind. As Ruth refused to give up hope, God connected her with Boaz who turned into the “family redeemer”. When Boaz discovered who she was he said to her, “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (Ruth 2:12).
In the midst of tragedy, Ruth remained focused on doing the right thing. She didn’t ignore what was going on around her, but she was determined to move forward with an attitude of hope. When the going gets tough, where should the tough go? Hopefully to take refuge under the wings of God as He will always provide hope, purpose and destiny.
Looking Out My Window is a regular column in the Northumberland Today newspaper located in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.