the Hope of Survivors

Vertical Vision—Samantha Nelson

(From the October 2005 edition of HopeSpeak)

As I prayed about what to write for this newsletter, I was impressed to share the message, “Look to Jesus.” In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and our concern for some we have not been able to reconnect with since that time, it becomes increasingly evident that we live in volatile times—times of unrest, times of great pain, and times just before the soon coming of our Savior.

When life becomes difficult, when pain becomes too hard to bear, we often find ourselves focusing on that pain and the circumstances that surround us. As long as we do that, we will not see the “big picture,” as it were. We are locked into our own little worlds, our own pain, our own trials and tribulations. These things loom ever larger in our minds and soon Satan has convinced us that there is no hope, no way out of our depression and pain.

Daniel in the Lion's Den - Willard E. Worden
Daniel in the Lion’s Den (also known as Daniel’s Answer to the King) by Briton Rivière, 1890

What can we do? I am reminded of an antique piece of art I acquired from my father. It was my grandmother’s, and I obtained it long after her death. The piece depicts a very realistic “photo” of Daniel in the lion’s den. Some of you may know where I’m going here, as I have shared this on an individual basis with a few of you previously. In the photo, Daniel is seen standing in the lion’s den, surrounded by lions. It is dark; the lions are hungry, yet they do not come near him. Daniel stands with his back to the lions; his face turned up toward the shaft; where a light, streaming as it were from Heaven, shines down upon his countenance.

I fell in love with this image the moment I saw it. As I reflect upon it, the lesson is so very clear. We are to look up—we are to look to Jesus. Jesus is the Light of the World. Here is Daniel, surrounded by lions, the “problems” in his life. Is he looking at the problems? No. Daniel is choosing to look toward the heavens; he is choosing to look to Jesus, the Solution.

And so, we, too, must choose to look to Jesus, our Problem Solver, rather than the many perplexities and difficulties that surround us each day. Whether you’ve suffered pastoral abuse or any one of a number of abuses and injustices, the pain you’re in may seem unbearable, yet Jesus is the answer. 1 Corinthians 10:13 holds a promise for each of us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV)

It is our natural human tendency to focus on ourselves and on our problems. Yet, if we will look to Jesus, if we will go to Him in prayer and seek His wisdom, we will find comfort, hope and courage. Luke 21:28 tells us, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” We know we shall have tribulation in this world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have hope. The problems we face here are temporary, although they may, at times, appear to be never-ending. There is hope, despite the inevitable pain life brings. Titus 2:13 states, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” We have hope in Christ!

What do you do when you encounter difficulties in life? Do you try to fix them yourself? Do you focus on the problem? Or, do you go to your Problem Solver, as did the Psalmist when he penned, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)

We need to look up. We need to have a “vertical vision”—a vision that directs our eyes to our Savior, not to those troubling circumstances on every side of us. Hebrews 12:2 describes what our actions should be, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I don’t know about you, but I choose to look to Jesus. I am not capable of solving my own problems or overcoming life’s cruel blows. But, I know Someone who will help me. I encourage you, look to Jesus and live.

Perhaps you can almost hear the melody as I close with a few lines from this old-time favorite hymn (words and music by Helen H. Lemmel, 1922), Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

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.

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:21) May God direct your eyes toward Him at all times, especially in the hour of your greatest need.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18