Points to Ponder Keeping the Hard Times in Perspective

by Pastor Dennis Whitmore

If you are a fan of the Olympics, you may recall the American speed skater Dan Jansen. He strived for the gold medal in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympics. Each time he suffered setback after setback. With each disappointment, he came back again and again.

It is hard not to feel crushed and demoralized when you have poured countless hours of hard work into the pursuit of your dream, only to be derailed time and again. Jansen learned how to put these seemingly devastating disappointments in perspective. Jansen writes:

“When I was nine years old, I was competing at the youth national championships in Minnesota. I was in good position to win my first national title when, coming around a turn, I tripped on a rubber hose they had set up as a lane marker. That slip cost me the title by one point. I started crying. I was crying as Mom took off my skates and during the award ceremonies. I was still crying when we got in the car and when we pulled into our driveway six hours later. My father had not spoken a word to me all the way home. But as we got out of the car, he said quietly, ‘You know, Dan, there’s more to life than skating around in a circle.’”

The Apostle Paul reminds us to take an eternal perspective on the tough times and tragic moments we may face in this life.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18 NKJV)

From within the confines of a wretched Roman prison cell he also writes this:

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ, yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness... but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9)

Life is a fleeting thing, (“like a vapor” as the Book of James says) which comes to be and then shortly passes away. At the moment, you may be enduring a time of challenge which seems insurmountable. Disappointments, crushing defeats, shattered dreams, and the betrayal of trusted friends, colleagues or loved ones can seem to define our lives. It is easy to be convinced by our setbacks that we are less than what we are capable of becoming. An eternal perspective puts temporal matters into their proper place.

If you are living for the temporary things, you will eventually lose them - sooner or later. If you are living for God and serving a higher purpose with your life, then you can see ahead, beyond the pain of today, to the great eternal reward which never fades and will be yours forever. What you are seeing always depends on the perspective from which you are facing it.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Dennis

Pastor Whitmore serves God at The First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.