I grew up singing hymns in church, and I often use those familiar words to focus my thoughts on the Lord.
I wasn’t sure what to write about this week, so I prayed and asked the Lord what he wanted to say. I’ve learned to remain in prayer and quiet my thoughts so I can hear his.
During those quiet moments, I remembered these words to a favorite hymn: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”
I ended my prayer time with a smile on my face and reached for my computer.
Turn your eyes away
It’s important to stay up with all that is going on in our world, but it’s easy to be consumed by the news and our need to know. Sometimes we need to turn our eyes away from news and focus on the One who transcends all news.
We have often heard it said that information is power. There is no doubt that knowing the facts about COVID-19 will keep us safer. We all have smart choices to make and wrong choices to avoid.
That said, one thing we have all noticed lately is that the facts we hear on the news may or may not be facts tomorrow or next week. There is still a lot to learn about this virus.
We should allow the television news to guide our choices. We should also trust God’s Spirit to guide our thoughts and calm our fears. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).
We should turn our eyes away from what might be facts so that we can seek God’s voice. It comforts me to remember that if I read his words in Scripture, they are certain. God’s word has been truth for every generation and remains truth today.
If we turn our eyes away from the news to God’s word, we learn: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33).
Turn your eyes toward the past
What does God’s word give us that the news cannot?
We are all trying to understand what is not understandable. I find comfort in the fact that we have a lot in common with every generation that has lived before us.
It has been a long time since preachers focused their sermons on things like hell, plagues, judgment, and fears. The popular sermons today focus on topics that make people feel better about themselves. The subject of most sermons are often about forgiveness, understanding, and comfort. The truth of God is in the totality of his word.
I’ve wondered if our younger generations have been strengthened by their faith during these days—or if they have felt confused and “let down” by what God has allowed to happen. Did we prepare them with the whole truth of Scripture or just part of God’s story?
God promised Isaiah, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Isaiah’s peers were taken captive by Babylon for seventy years.
Jesus told his disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus didn’t promise that believers wouldn’t have times of crisis; he promised we would.
Every generation experiences a crisis in the world. In light of the past, the COVID crisis of our generation is just one of many. Previous generations were running for shelters, afraid of the bombs. Our great-grandparents and grandparents sent their children to other countries, to carry guns and fight wars. This virus has been described as a “war,” but I’m glad that my war isn’t like the one my great-grandparents feared.
When we look at history, we find people of great faith in every generation. All of those people endured “tribulation” of some kind. Every generation of God’s people have been “dismayed” and in need of God’s “help” because every generation has experienced “tribulation.”
When we look to the past, we realize we are only part of a much larger story. The provision of God for this crisis has already been promised. If we look toward the past, we can understand our present and find hope for our future.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Our ministry has been fielding a lot of questions about COVID-19 these days:
- Is this God’s judgment on our world?
- Could this be a sign of the end times?
- Should we shelter in fear, or live in faith?
- What is God saying to us in these days?
People want answers today for questions that history will answer one day.
In this “age of information,” we need to remember that the truth God gave Isaiah thousands of years ago is still truth today. God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
We want answers for our world that only God can give. Until God provides those answers, we have a more important goal. I often think of the fact that I am “sheltered” during the Lenten season. Why now? Could it be that God has provided me an abundance of quiet for an important reason?
For the next two weeks, I would ask all of us to make a daily journey through the streets of Jerusalem to the hillside of Calvary.
I want to walk with Jesus this week and see him as he struggles to carry his cross.
I want to witness all that Jesus endured for my sake.
I want to see Jesus “high and lifted up” for my salvation.
I want to remember what happened so I can understand what matters.
I want to “turn my eyes upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful face.”
Turn your eyes upward
There is a lot that I do not know about the days ahead. But I know God knows, and that is enough.
Let’s join our praise with King David’s this week, saying, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3).
Let’s turn our eyes toward Calvary and focus on Jesus.
Then let’s turn our eyes to heaven and realize that Jesus granted every believer the opportunity to enter the presence of God one day. Thank you, Lord, for a season that calls us to let “the things of this earth grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”