In a 2003 Parade Magazine column, Ask Marilyn, Marilyn vos Savant gave an interesting perspective on contentment.
A reader was bothered that her neighbor’s yard looked better than her own. So, she did something unusual. She walked over to her neighbor’s house to look at her own yard. When she did, the grass in her yard looked greener.
“Why does this occur?” the reader asked
Marilyn replied, “The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence because you’re not close enough to see the dirt.” Most of the time, things look better for others simply because we can’t see their dirt.
What a great outlook on life. Especially when we see what is going on in the world today while trying to maintain a proper perspective.
Psalm 73, by the author Asaph, offers wonderful insight that can easily be applied to our time and culture. Thoughts of these five “looks” were inspired by Wilson Adam’s outline in “Songs to Soothe the Soul” from his Courageous Living workbook series.
#1 Looking Back.
Whenever we’re suffering, experiencing difficulties, or feeling discouraged, it’s important to maintain our spiritual perspective.
Asaph was not an infidel or atheist. He was a believer. In the midst of trouble, he looked back and could confidently affirm, “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart” (73:1).
The words of the hymnist, Lloyd Otis Sanderson, remind us of God’s presence. His goodness. His blessings. Even in the midst of adversity.
Though I, through the valley of shadow, O’er mountain or troubled sea,
And oft in the darkness, have traveled, The Lord has been mindful of me.”
“Much more than my grief and my sorrow, Much more than adversity,
Much more than the all I have given, The Lord has been mindful of me.”
#2 Looking Around.
However, as Asaph looked around and saw the prosperity, power and popularity of the wicked, he was envious. He admitted, “I almost stumbled.” Doubts began to creep in. He struggled.
Asaph’s dilemma is not unlike our own as we live in a world where too often nice guys finish last. Christians are ridiculed and reviled while infidels are praised and promoted Ungodly people seem to be living the good life. Their opulent lifestyle looks appealing. We wonder, “Why them? Why not me?” It’s easy to be envious.
Be careful when you look around. Their grass may not be as green as it looks from your front porch.
#3 Looking Within.
In the midst of his struggle, Asaph, did something we should all do, he looked inside his own heart. At his attitude. At his feelings. At his doubts. He thought about the consequences of abandoning his faith and of undermining the faith of others, especially younger believers. The more he pondered the problem the greater it pained him.
Self-examination is good (2Cor. 13:5). Getting real, and honestly evaluating our attitudes and feelings in the midst of trial will provide a clearer perspective of where to go. What to do. And who we should turn to.
#4 Looking Up.
This exercise, led Asaph to see the bigger picture. To give him a clear view. To change his perspective. But when did this occur? When he “went into the sanctuary of God” (73:17). Worship and his relationship with God improved his viewpoint.
Through the years we’ve seen folks struggle with doubt or some disaster, and in their discouragement forsake worship, neglect Bible study, and abandon prayer. That’s a huge mistake. More than ever you need to come into the presence of God. To seek His counsel. To open your heart to His guidance. And to consider your problems from a Divine and eternal context.
#5 Looking Forward.
With a clearer view and a renewed faith, Asaph sees God’s judgment of the wicked and his own destiny with the Lord. He can confidently affirm, “ God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Asaph’s journey is one that we all will travel at some time. When you do, don’t despair. Don’t allow your feelings to nullify the facts of God’s Word. Don’t doubt your faith. Instead doubt your doubts. Pause. Ponder. Pray. And open your eyes to a new perspective that looks beyond your present circumstances and sees the unseen (2Cor. 4:16-18).
Joni Eareckson Tada was right when she wrote, “Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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