Every year our Chaplain team sits down to review the previous year’s ministry opportunities. We learn so much about what our team members and their families are dealing with and it gives us direction as we continue to develop our chaplain ministry and the resources we are providing. As I met with our team yesterday, we made note of the fact of just how many people are going through some really hard things.
As a Chaplain, I am not immune from the challenges of life either. I was visiting with a gentleman a few years back and he said, “It must be great to be in your position. God protects you from anything bad happening because of who you are and what you do.” Generally I try not to be autobiographical in my counseling, but for some reason, this time I went there. I responded, “I have to disagree. In the last 18 months, my family has experienced two miscarriages, death from cancer, and a suicide.” I got a blank stare and an, “Oh my.” It was no doubt a conversation stopper, which I was afraid of. He walked away, but I never forgot that moment. It was then that I began to reflect on what God calls us to do and become when life turns upside down.
There has been a verse that has been a theme for my life for the past two years. Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The brevity of life gives some hope and it incites fear in others. For me - hope. In the midst of life’s challenges, failures, pains and hurts, I know that my life on this earth is temporal. That changes my perspective. Because of my faith, I know that there is an end to all of this, and yet a glorious beginning promised to those who believe in Christ.
This perspective is great, you may be thinking, but I still woke up this morning and have to deal with these same struggles and challenges. I love the encouragement Max Lucado gives:
I don’t know why, but when I read this my mind focused on the “eternal weight of glory”. I pictured one of those ancient pan scales. Back in the day, the weight of a purchase was determined by placing weights on one side and the purchase on the other.
I then pictured my struggles all being placed on one side. It seemed heavy as I thought through everything going on in life and in work. What would you put on yours? Health, broken relationships, grief/loss, challenges or stress at work, kids, marriage...what is it for you? Stack them up and watch one side of the pan scale plummet!
But I am in awe of God’s response. He doesn’t take these away. He doesn’t immediately eliminate burdens or remove the pain. No, instead of taking them, He offsets them. He places an eternal weight of glory on the other side. Endless joy. Measureless peace. An eternity of Him. When God sets eternity on the scale, everything changes! Heavy burdens become light against eternity.
If life is “just a moment,” what would happen if you began to view your circumstances today with an eternal perspective? I will tell you that when I am able to do this well, I am able to experience His grace and love in greater ways than when my mind is focused on my situation instead of on eternity.
May the same be true for you today as well.