One of the most life-changing truths I have learned from studying God’s Word for the last 25 years concerns perspective and how it can bring about my victory or defeat, my hope or despair, my perseverance or failure.
It has made a significant difference both emotionally and spiritually. I would not have been able to persevere without learning this insight from God’s Word.
The notion of perspective that is so instrumental comprises two key principles and Joshua gives great examples of both.
Joshua 6:1-2 says,
Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.
And the LORD said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.
Really? That’s not what it looks like to me. It looks ‘tightly shut up’ and not exactly ‘delivered’ from where I am standing.”
That is what would have been going through my mind if I were Joshua at that moment.
But this offers an example of the first principle to learn: the difference in perspective. This difference boils down to God’s view versus our view.
I have seen many times in Scripture how differently He sees and processes compared to humans. This has had a profound impact to teach me that more often than not, as I approach any given situation, my initial view may be flawed, biased or incomplete. I have learned to recognize my vulnerability when it comes to perceiving and processing life.
This shouldn’t surprise me though. God affirms it in His Word.
Proverbs 3:5 teaches,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
Later in Isaiah 55:9, I learn,
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
These two verses illustrate how God perceives/processes not just differently, but much better than I ever can! Therefore, when I am looking at circumstances in front of me, I know there is more than one way to see it.
As in the case with Joshua looking at Jericho, what he saw “tightly shut up”, God saw as already delivered!
Let that sink in, savoring all the hope that it offers!
What we see as overwhelming or impossible, God sees as already accomplished! What we see as pointless or painful, God sees as purposeful!
Why? Because He is God! Almighty and Invincible! All-Loving and All-wise! Nothing can stump Him and nothing can stop Him!
He can and will use absolutely everything for our ultimate good as Christians (Romans 8:28). No exceptions!
What comfort that offers us when we struggle. But it doesn’t just stop there. Not only are we blessed by God having a better perspective of any given situation than what we are able to, when we seek that perspective and align ourselves with it, our circumstances are as good as changed.
One way or another!
Therefore, the second principle to learn is the value in His perspective.
Whether it is a different way to perceive an ongoing trial that God allows, or by seeking instruction on how to deal with it more strategically, there is value in pursuing God’s perspective.
That is exactly what Joshua and the Israelites learned in Joshua 9:14-15. The people of Gibeon came to the Israelites in a ruse, seeking a treaty with them, knowing they were probably next on their list to annihilate. They pretended to live far away and asked for protection through a treaty.
The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.
It was only a matter of time before Joshua learned that the Gibeonites were actually a neighboring nation that should have been conquered. The Israelites were to take possession of their land as God intended, removing the potential influence of its inhabitants.
But they had failed to seek God’s perspective on the matter, making the decision themselves in their flawed, vulnerable reasoning. The LORD wanted to equip them but they had not valued His perspective enough to ask. Therefore, they missed out on the better way God had intended for them.
I have suffered the same losses in my life, more times than I care to count. Having neglected to seek His view on circumstances so that I could enjoy what my own flesh wanted, I foolishly thought I could handle “this one” on my own. Now, I am more prone to ask for His guidance and wisdom.
When I am in the midst of this difficult state of waiting, vulnerable to feeling hopeless or fearful, I try to remember the difference in perspective two thousand years ago; the difference between the second and third day for the disciples after Jesus was crucified.
On the second day, they must have been reeling with confusion. Helpless and hopeless would have described them well as they hid from the Jews, trying to process what had just happened, not to mention what the last three years had been about. You see, their perspective from the cross or from inside their homes as they hid the next day, was incomplete.
Oh, how their view was about to change that next morning. Their perspective would radically shift just hours later!
The view from His empty tomb made all the difference! What had happened at Calvary had been totally changed in their minds by the fact that now He had risen. He wasn’t defeated; He was victorious! That meant so were they! Which means so are we!
The difference in perspective makes all things hopeful for us. We are not left mourning as the disciples were on the second day. We are more than conquerors because He has conquered sin and death on our behalf! What more can stand in our way? If He is not stumped, we are not stumped. If He is not stopped, we are not stopped.
So be encouraged as you seek Him. Wait for His timing and remember the view from inside the tomb!