From my balcony, where I stand right now, this is what I see:
Beautiful, right? I know. Some days, it is easy to look that way and just soak in the beauty of what is standing right in front of me. The beautiful green grass, trees, rolling hills and mountains. It's hard to see in this picture because it's small, but in real life, I especially love the little picturesque Honduran home way back by the hill side. I stare over there and see this little home with its property, trees, corn field, and banana trees and think, what a beautiful, beautiful sight.
Right this minute, you may be in your own reality and perhaps a little bit jealous of my view. You may think, I want that view. My view doesn't look like that. My view isn't so pretty...it has _____ in it, or ________, or _________...whatever you decide you need to fill in the blanks with. And I agree, compared to the view I just showed you, mine might appear to be better.
Let me share this with you, though. From where I stand, on my balcony, I also see this:
Not so appealing, right. The rear-end of a huge, gray, smelly, coffee-bean-drying factory. Trucks coming in and out. Smoke billowing up to the sky. Not quite so picturesque. There is the chance that I could choose to look only in that direction, and start to believe that this view is my only option. My only view.
In our every day lives, we are faced with many decisions. Lots of options. From where you stand, you can't see everything that lies in front of you, but you can surely see glimpses from different directions. Sometimes it's a struggle--we get stuck looking at one ugly choice. An ugly glimpse. An ugly view. And we somehow talk ourselves into believing that the ugly is all that lies ahead of us, from where we stand.
Not to say that "the ugly" is not real. There are many, many very real things in life that are very, very ugly. They can take over our lives, it seems. Sap us of all the energy and will that we possess. The point, when we are faced with these ugly things, is to not be consumed by them. David found this out and wrote about it in Psalm 121. Even with all of the hard times that he faced in his life he learned which direction to look at--which view to look at:
"I lift my eyes unto the hills--where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, Maker of heaven and earth."
I would encourage you, friends, when you find yourself thinking that "the ugly" is all that lies ahead of you, to look again. To spin around. Crane your neck. Look for the rest of the view. Because it may take a little effort, but you can always see more than it might first seem from where you stand. Then, when you can see more of the picture, it is up to you what you will focus on. You can choose to succumb to "the ugly". It can bring you down and discourage you. It can cloud your vision. Or you can look to "the beautiful". And it can bring you up and give you strength and hope.
I read this verse today and it encouraged me. We will all have days filled with sunny skies and a beautiful view, along with cloudy skies and an ugly view. The key is to look to God through it all--He really is where our help comes from.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12