Perspective Precedes Thankfulness
Glynnis Whitwer

"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God
brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm."

Deuteronomy 5:15 (NIV)

My little sister and I were an unstoppable team in the board game Scattergories. Within seconds we guessed each other's drawings, annoying our opponents in the process. Sometimes it was an unspoken memory shared by the two of us. Most often it was because we understood the concept of perspective.

For example, if we were attempting to draw a basketball, we immediately drew something else to create perspective. Otherwise, our teammates would waste time guessing that it was the sun, the earth or a face. A stick person holding the circle narrowed the guesses, because seeing objects in relation to each other helped reveal the truth.

Perspective made all the difference in the game, and it makes all the difference in how we handle life. Without perspective, small problems seem insurmountable, and we ignore warning signs. But with perspective, hard situations don't overwhelm, and we can find our way to thankfulness instead of despair.

To help me take a balanced approach to life's difficult times, I've developed a few perspective points. These points are hard-earned lessons in my life. By making them perspective points, I choose to find value in what would otherwise be dismal experiences. Now, when I'm faced with bad news, disappointment or failure, I grasp one of these perspective points, and like a compass pointing north, I can accurately assess the situation, and choose to be thankful.

One of the most difficult perspective points in my life is the death of my niece Christa in a car accident. In fact, at times I feel my life is divided in two parts: before and after Christa's death. With five children of my own, this devastating loss to our family has given me perspective on the challenges we face.

When one of my children makes a heart-breaking choice, I grieve and administer consequences. Then very quickly, like that magnetic force in a compass, perspective points me to thankfulness. Thank You Lord my son (or daughter) is alive.

Another perspective point is the economic downfall of the past few years. Finances have eased a bit, but we'll be battling our way out of that slump for years to come. Instead of being resentful, I find myself thankful for having money to spend at all. Thank You Lord for getting us through that rough time and for what I have to spend today.

In Deuteronomy 5:15 Moses gave the Israelites God's Ten Commandments. As Moses related "Observe the Sabbath day," he challenged the people with this sentence: "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." God was establishing a day of rest, but also a day to keep perspective and be thankful. He wanted people to remember the hard times so they could appreciate the good times even more.

Perspective points are an arrow to thankfulness. They remind me God was faithful then and He will be faithful now. They remind me God was greater than my circumstances then, and still is today. Most importantly, they help me cultivate a thankful heart for what I have. The truth is as long as we have breath, there is reason to be thankful and hopeful.

As we begin Thanksgiving preparations, let's identify perspective points in our lives. It's how we can find value in what seems a waste. They prove God can use anything for good, and help turn our hearts to gratitude instead of grumbling.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the difficult times in my life. Although they weren't easy, I can see how You worked through them. Help me to keep perspective on my problems today by remembering Your faithfulness in my past. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Is there something you are thankful for that God has done in your life through Proverbs 31 Ministries? Prayerfully consider how you can support our ongoing ministry. Click here for more information. We're thankful for you!

Visit Glynnis' blog where she tells another story of how she kept perspective while trying to sell a house in a down market.

When Your Child is Hurting: Helping Your Child Survive the Ups and Downs of Life by Glynnis Whitwer

You Are My Hiding Place Lord by Emilie Barnes

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Identify a time in your life that was difficult. View your current circumstances in light of that difficult time. Thank God for what He is doing in your life today.

How can gratitude keep me from feeling like a victim?

Many times I want to forget the past. Is there a healthy way to remember my past difficulties?

Power Verses:
Joel 2:13, "Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." (NIV)

Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.


Blogger traveler said...

Thank you for this devotion today. It has helped me already. I appreciate your site and may hope each and every one of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Your readers are THANKFUL for YOU!!! You are truly a blessing!

Anonymous Amy said...

Thankful for this devo this morning. I was wrestling with the Lord in a few areas, one of which you have had personal experience with. I too lost my neice to a car accident less than 3 months ago and have 5 children at home. (Please keep my sister and brother-in-law in prayer) God is faithful, and gave me exactly what I needed to hear this morning.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This message couldn't have come at a better time. Our family has endured many struggles the last couple of years and it is so easy to get buried in the pain and sorrow. In the midst of all of it, I had shut God out, thinking he was no longer listening to my prayers. But, as we all know, God never leaves us, we move away from Him. I am thankful that He is here, even now that I have finally returned to Him. I have felt a peace this week, that I haven't felt for a long time. Thank you, Proverbs ministries, for your devotionals. They hit HOME every time!

Thank you so much for this devotion. God has blessed us so much, but we tend to complain more than being thankful. I pray that I can have a thankful heart all year long.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about perspective! 5 years ago, my husband went completely self-employed.It was rough, but gradually things began to pick up a little financially. The home we had been in for 14 years, a 1960's era trailer house, was showing signs of decay, so we decided to move into a "real" house. We found a rent-to-own and moved. It stretched our budget, but we loved the space! Then... the market tanked! Long story short(!) we spent a frigid Kansas winter in a house with no heat except a small electric heater and one propane heater (ugh- black filmy mess everywhere!). There were times when I would open my refrigerator and it would be warmer than in kitchen! If I left something on my counter it would freeze! Since we had a gas stove I could only cook in my crock pot and the microwave. I learned to heat up glass dishes very slowly so they would not shatter due to the quick change in temperature! With three (amazing!) teenage daughters, cleanliness was a challenge. Have you ever stood bundled in your winter coat leaning over a sink in an unheated kitchen trying to gather up enough courage to stick your head under an icy stream of water so you can have clean hair to go to church? Have you ever given up and just tied a bandana around your head or pulled a stocking cap over your dirty hair and gone to church anyway, only to have someone greet you with,"Well, I see you have gone for the casual look today!"?

Our old dryer broke down so we shivered in a freezing laundry room hanging up laundry to dry. Then our vehicle died and we only had my husband's battered old work truck. The bottom came when we could not afford to pay our electric bill and we recieved an eviction notice.

Within a week we had to find a new house. God provided us with-of all things!-a trailer house. (It's to old to be called a mobile home!) That was almost two years ago. We have found a sense of peace and contentment in our new place knowing that it came straight from God's hand when we needed it the most.

The "crunch time" caused my husbnd to diversify his business and today things are picking up again. We have learned the truth of Philippians 4:11-13, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have plenty.....I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And often as I shower or cook or do laundry or any one of a number of common household chores, I thank God for the simple things that once I thought it was my right to have as an American. Now I realize those things are privileges and I am truly grateful. It is amazing what a difference perspective can make in our lives!!! :)

Blogger Glynnis Whitwer said...

To anonymous - It breaks my heart to hear of the difficult times you have experienced. Yet I'm praising God on your behalf for His provision, and I'm praying for God to pour out His goodness upon your family. Thank you for sharing.

To Amy - Please accept my deepest sympathy at the loss of your neice. This will be a very difficult month for your family. May the Lord be your peace and comfort, and sustain you in your sadness.

Post a Comment


Site Search
Recent Devotions
Articles About...
Grab our button!