Reframing Our Struggles
John Telgren

One of the most encouraging books in the Bible is the book of Revelation. It is not designed to be scary, mysterious, or even hard to understand. It was written specifically to encourage Christians who are facing difficulties in their walk with God, particularly with family, friends, rulers and authorities. The picture that the book gives us is that God is always on the throne and he is always in charge. There are enemies that pursue the people of God and try to prevent them from remaining faithful to God. The real enemy behind it all is Satan, who is depicted as a multi-headed red dragon. For all his bravado in sweeping a third of the stars out of Heaven, all it takes is one angel of God to subdue him in Revelation 20. God is the one on the throne and he is the one in control. God does not truly have any rivals that can hope to defeat him. There is nothing on the same level as God. Satan like the rest of things in creation is a creature, a created being.

This reframes all of the hardships and difficulties we face. To think that somehow we are losing because of difficulties, whether they are difficulties from enemies or whether they are internal difficulties, this is human thinking. Human thinking can often be defeatist thinking. Human thinking is what caused Israel to become despondent and stop listening to Moses when the Egyptians increased their slave labor. Human thinking is what caused Habbakuk to question God as to whether God was just enough to do anything about the wickedness around him. Human thinking is what caused the disciples to flee and go back to fishing when Jesus was arrested and crucified.

On the other hand, there were people who saw things more from a spiritual perspective than a human one. For instance, there was Joseph who, reflecting on the difficulties in his life which began with his brothers selling him into slavery, said "Now therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God (Gen 45:8)," and "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive" (Gen 50:20). Joseph correctly saw God's hand in everything. God is always in charge. Even though he could not always see or understand what God was doing and why, he knew that God was in charge.

How does this reframe the difficulties we face in our life? We should not become desponded or discouraged. We should not become bitter. We should not give up. God is still on the throne and is still working his plan through us. Our place is to continue to be faithful, even when it seems futile. We can carry out God's desire regardless of our circumstances. God is bigger than our circumstances and will often use them to display his power!

Our prayer, then, should be that God give us eyes to see in order that we can see things from a spiritual perspective and not just a human one.