In the past two weeks, my devotions have been permeated by one main theme: In our trials and suffering, if we always remember to look up to the Lord, we will receive a reward that trumps the ugly of our situation.
That’s really the whole theme of this blog and I find it interesting that I am learning even more about what that really means – what it really means to look up in SPITE of all that clouds our vision here on earth. To look up in the face of intense opposition. To look up when our heads keep getting yanked back down. Just to keep looking UP.
But I don’t mean looking up in the way that the world does. The world tells us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get a good attitude. The world tells us to have a positive outlook and believe in ourselves so we can change our circumstances. The world tells us it’s about mind over matter, motivation and willpower. The world tells us we can choose happiness and health no matter what.
The world tells us it all hinges upon US. The world tells us to look up to OURSELVES.
No. That’s not working for me – it never has. I have to seek Jesus and His face so HE can work all things together for my good. Only He can do that. My looking doesn’t even make that happen – it’s just the mere part that I play in it all.
Seeking HIM. Looking to HIM.
- To look up to HIM – the only One who offers clarity.
- To look up to HIM – even when all we want to do or feel that we can do is to hang our heads low.
- To keep our eyes wide open and seek Jesus in everything – because He’s there in the midst of it all if we only search after Him.
We don’t often find ourselves ardently searching for His face in times of joy and ease. Sure, we can praise Him through the beauty of a time unmarked by pain, suffering, or difficulty. But for me – I find that when I have to look harder, and I finally can fix my eyes upon HIM – He cuts through the cloudy and the murky and the junk – He cuts through it like a sharp blade and emerges…..CLEAR.
He gives me a point of focus through all that is murky and beyond my ability to endure alone.
But it’s not easy.
- It’s not easy for us to look to Him when we don’t feel like it.
- It’s a daunting thing to search for His face in what can seem like a forest of obstacle courses that have been set up with the intent to not only derail us, but maybe even wound us beyond repair.
And when it gets really hard for me – I focus upon Jesus and the many times He looked up in the face of insurmountable obstacles.
In the Garden of Gethsemane…
In the dark….
Surrounded by trees and very, very alone.
Knowing. Knowing what is about to come…
And He still looked up.
He looked up in the midst of an excruciating pain and blunt and brutal knowledge of the cup He was about to have to drink of in a mere few hours.
And I think of my Jesus upon that cross…
When not only gravity and the relentless pain and torture inflicted upon His body was pulling Him down…down….down, but also the spiritual pain and torture He must have endured that screamed out to him relentlessly….”give up already – they aren’t worth it.”
And He still looked up.
Jesus looks up while upon that cross and He cries out!!!
He looks to the Father even in the face of having all the sin of the world resting on Him.
In that moment and in every moment, Jesus always looks up.
So can we.
Is there something in your life right now that makes you feel like all you can do is hang your head low? Do you find yourself seeking after the Lord, but unable to find Him? Would you please keep looking up in spite of it all? Would you have faith that He will show up, even if it’s not in the way that always feels good or removes your trial or thorn from your life? He is our Almighty and Loving Father, friends.
He wants what is best for us. Even if we don’t always understand it, He will work all things together for our good in the midst of our challenges, sufferings, even our sin. Our “job” is only to seek Him in the middle of it all. And obey if He asks something of us.
Just like Jesus did that day on the cross and every day – every. single. day.
No – The cup was not removed from Jesus, friends. But oh! What happens now for an eternity by far surpasses that horrific suffering that He endured.
Jesus looked up for us.
And He yearns for us to look up and seek His beautiful face. Every day.
Sometimes the days feel like weeks when we go through them living with these thorns that we cannot remove. Sometimes we wonder when it will all end or if we will ever have an answer as to exactly why it all had to happen in the first place. But we can trust in Him that He has us right where He wants us. We can work through our anger, our disdain, our confusion as we look up to Him for His peace, His comfort and His joy in the middle of it all.
Sometimes it’s the only way to embrace beauty in the midst of the ugly anyway.
- He is always beautiful.
- He is always faithful.
- And He promises if we set our eyes upon Him, it will always be better than hanging our heads down low or resorting to our own inadequate devices.
I don’t have to feel great about this stuff that makes my days feel like weeks and my weeks feel like years. I don’t have to love my pain or my suffering. But I can be thankful in the midst of it all that I know that one day – one glorious day – I will be with my Savior for all eternity. And there – in that blissful place – there will be no more suffering.
And we will always see His face. We won’t have to look long and hard and search through the thickets and the thorns. All of this will be a blur by then.
And we shall walk in the light and the love of our Lord and Savior forever more.
To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! Psalm 123:1