I was in college and working for a large organization in Orlando. At 20 years old, I was a security director with a lot of responsibility. It was my job to interact with every person who walked through the front door of that organization. I often complained to my mother that the people I encountered each day were crazy. Her response? She’d remind me to pray.
But I didn’t want to pray. I wanted to quit! Fortunately, God, the Master Potter, began molding me into a different man, one who was no longer caught up in himself and his desires, but instead, who had compassion for people and welcomed the challenge of various personalities.
That wasn’t an easy process, however. God used trials, hard work, and difficult people to smooth out my rough edges and teach me how to relate to others as He intends. Today, I am a mentor to many because God loved me enough to change my perspective.
For years, I prayed to God for self-justification—only to discover that God did not see things from my perspective. Neither was He interested in my point of view or my desire for a quick fix. God’s concern was and always will be His boundless love song toward man called redemption. He wants to save us from our sin, to save us from ourselves. So He comforts and teaches us. Sometimes He uses short-term suffering to teach us a long-term perspective of His plan. He offers us not only eternal life with Him in heaven but abundant life here on earth as well.
God isn’t out to rob us of a happy life. He doesn’t hurl circumstances and people in our way to cause us pain. Everything God allows in our lives is meant for good, to bring us into a full life. There is meaning in everything He does and everything He allows.
To gain God’s perspective, we must learn to look at situations from His viewpoint. That means we must understand that our happiness isn’t God’s objective when our character and integrity or the lives of others are at stake. What I didn’t know at 20 was that my life was not all about me. I had purpose beyond my narcissistic tendencies and needs. God wanted to use me to impact the lives of others.
God wanted me to season the lives around me, to be a light for those who are lost, and to deliver hope to the hopeless. That’s His desire for all of us. But for me to do that required my “it’s all about me” mindset to diminish so that others could gain significance. At times, it required my discomfort. But isn’t that what Christ did in His sacrifice for all mankind? If we are to be like Him, then this is the path we must walk with Him.
So many times, I asked God to ease the pain in my life, without realizing He was using it to teach me, to mold me, and to put me on display in my brokenness so that others could see Him through me. I had to take up my cross—that thing of weakness—lay down my desires, and yield to God so that I could learn to live His will and not my own.
When our perspective aligns to God’s, we gain knowledge. When we accept His greatness, we gain wisdom and understanding. When we trust Him in the midst of our sufferings instead of taking the easy way out, we gain peace and joy.
God desires to make you whole. But that process starts and ends with submission to the will of God, with accepting His thoughts concerning yourself and your situation. That hard person or situation you’re encountering right now may be the very thing God will use to bring you closer to Him, to correct you as needed, and to give you new direction. Surrender, so that He can usher in the freedom you desire most.