I’ve spent the last six weeks experimenting with various prescriptions for contact lenses. I finally found one that felt comfortable, but I couldn’t define anything more than a car’s length away. So, I traded those in for a different prescription, and guess what? I could see what the man in the moon was eating for breakfast. There was only one problem – my books and computer screen looked like fuzz. And so the process went on until I finally waved the white flag and decided to return to glasses.
I value being able to see life clearly…in more ways than one…but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes situations come along that I just don’t “get.” For instance, why does God allow innocent Romanian children to be infected with HIV when they receive their childhood vaccinations? Why does He allow stage 3 ovarian cancer to strike the young woman recently married? Why does He allow a rare form of inoperable liver cancer to strike a mother with two young sons? I see suffering happen all around me, and sometimes it’s difficult to process.
Peter felt the same way. Matthew 16:21-23 says that Jesus told his disciples about His upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection. “But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. ‘Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you!’” His response revealed limited spiritual vision. He simply didn’t see God’s sovereign plan for man’s redemption.
How did Jesus respond? He turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
My first impulse is to defend Peter. “C’mon, Jesus…give the guy a break. He loves You and doesn’t want to see You suffer and die.” But the more I ponder Jesus’ answer, the more I sense His fervor, His earnest and desperate desire for Peter to see suffering from God’s point of view. So vital is having a heavenly perspective that He called Peter “Satan” and said that looking at life from a human point of view made him a dangerous trap.
Jesus’ words force me to sit up and pay attention. Obviously seeing suffering from God’s point of view matters, and it matters a lot. When I’m tempted to look at pain and say, “Heaven forbid that this is happening. Make it go away!” then I need to ask myself whether I’m seeing it through my own short-sightedness or through God’s eternal lens.
Viewing suffering merely from a human point of view is a no-go, according to Jesus. Why? Perhaps because we might grow bitter. Angry. Cynical. We might fall into the trap of self-pity. We might limit God with our prayers. Or we might miss His purpose altogether.
God wants us to view suffering through His eyes because He has a purpose that reaches far beyond our limited imagination. Will you join me in asking Him to change our vision?
“Father, guard us from short-sightedness. When things happen that we don’t understand, please grant us the ability to see life from Your perspective. You are God; we are not. Amen.”