What is our focus when we walk through life?
I’m not talking about trials specifically, although that is a big part of it. But, really, whatever we practice focusing on during the daily routine of life is what we will naturally tend to focus on when the difficult times hit.
When I look at my own focus, I do not like what I see. My focus tends to be on my calendar, my needs, my desires. I go through each and every day thinking about what needs to be checked off the list next. I structure my day around that list and schedule. Can you imagine how that focus and structure affects my perspective on trials?
Anything that derails that schedule or prevents me from checking something off the list becomes a potential trial. In the words of my five-year-old…yikes! No wonder I feel like I’m facing an oncoming bus every single day!
So, what should my focus be? The author of Hebrews makes it pretty clear.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Obviously, those heroes of the faith and their stories can encourage me greatly in my faith as I walk through trials. But, what about every single individual day? What about the tiredness I feel as I look at my schedule? What about being overwhelmed by that to-do list? What about the temptation to just quit and not live a life of daily diligence?
That’s where I look to Jesus Himself. Day in and day out He loved the very people who would kill Him. Not just the Pharisees and the fickle crowds. But Judas who would betray Him. Peter who would use profanity to deny Him. The rest of the disciples who would flee for their lives in His moment of need. Just thinking about the story makes me feel the despair of it all. But, He endured it because He had faith in what God was doing.
Compared to being betrayed and denied by your best friends, my schedule seems like nothing. Compared to living for the very purpose of dying for the people who reject you, my to-do list is a breeze. And if I am focused on Jesus Himself and on God’s will for the salvation of mankind, suddenly I want all of the things I have before me – every moment on my schedule and every task on my to-do list – to be accomplished only for His glory. If it doesn’t accomplish that, I want it to go and be replaced by something that will glorify Him.
I can tell you right now that, no matter how much I long to do otherwise, I will fail some days and choose not make the decision to follow the instructions of Hebrews 12:3 every single day of my life. I’ve already failed just this week! But, I still want it to be my goal. And I pray that with each passing day I am more faithful to live out such a focus than I was the day before. In doing so, I will grow less and less inclined to grow weary or lose heart.