Our focus matters. Just ask the foot racer who lost the lead when he turned his head to check on the runners behind him. A split-second backward glance cost him first place. If only he’d kept his focus where it needed to be.
On a parallel note, we’re participants in this race called life, and where we place our focus matters, especially when we’re in a difficult situation.
Adopt a Better Focus
When troubles arise, our human bent tends to focus on the obstacles and what-ifs. We see the difficulties, the disappointments, and the unwelcome detours. Making these things our sole focus affects our ability to keep a healthy perspective. Before long, discouragement and despair overwhelm us.
The apostle Paul wrote these wise words: “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT).
Paul’s teaching reminds us that our focus matters. In the original language, the word translated “look” is “skopeo.” It comes from the root “skopos” which is where we get our English word “scope” as used in “microscope” or “telescope.” It implies keeping our eyes on something in the distance.
We do more than just see this far-distant thing. We look into it. We pay close attention to it. We contemplate it because it’s important. “Look” is an action word whose tense instructs believers to continually live with this perspective—always turning our gaze upward and fixing our eyes on the invisible when hardships surround us on all sides.
Elisha’s Servant Gained a New Focus
Our focus matters. Just ask Elisha’s servant (2 Kings 6.) The king of Syria was angry with the prophet Elisha for thwarting his battle plans, so he decided to capture him. He sent troops out at night to surround the city where Elisha was staying. In the morning, Elisha’s servant looked out and saw horses and chariots and a large army all around the city. He panicked and asked Elisha what they could do to defend themselves. In response, Elisha asked God to open the servant’s eyes to help him see. God answered, and the servant suddenly saw a heavenly army—horses and chariots of fire surrounding the city.
Fear overwhelmed Elisha’s servant when he fixed his focus on the Syrian army, but everything changed when he fixed his gaze on the invisible spiritual forces made visible to him.
Corrie ten Boom’s Focus
Corrie ten Boom was a holocaust survivor who understood that our focus matters. After her release, she traveled to tell her story and encourage others to not give up hope while experiencing troubles and trials of every sort. She offered these wise words of advice:
Look around and be distressed.
Look inside and be depressed.
Look at Jesus and be at rest.
The reality in which we live is where our natural focus lies, but God is at work in ways our eyes cannot see. Therein lies our hope.
Someday our race will end, and we’ll reach the finish line. In the meantime, let’s run the race before us remembering that our focus matters. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and the glories that lie ahead.
May I pray for you?
“Father, thank You for reminding us that our focus matters. Help us keep our eyes on You rather than the difficult circumstances around us. Keep our sights where they need to be – on You and the eternal glories yet to come. In Jesus’ name, amen.”