Yesterday when I was at a bookstore that is closing, I came across a book I had purchased when it first came out back in 1999, but I lost that book when I lost my job ten years ago and I had to move back to the state I came from previous to taking that job seven months earlier.
When I saw a copy of that book yesterday, I discovered that it has been revised in 2008 with a new cover but with the same title that attracted me to the book the first time I purchased it. The title of the book is, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On,” by Stormie Omartian, a bestselling Christian author who has written many books since that time.
The title is a reminder to all of us that nobody knows what the future holds, and all that we are given at any point in time is the moment we are currently occupying. We can make plans and be totally convinced that something we want to happen might happen, and sometimes it does work out, and sometimes it doesn’t.
As I opened the book to take a look at the table of contents, I came across a chapter titled, “Seeing What’s Right with This Picture” (Chapter 8). It opens with the following paragraph on page 73:
Have you ever found yourself angry, upset, or devastated when things didn’t turn out as you’d hoped or planned? Next time that happens, look deeply into the situation and ask God to give you a new perspective. (Quote source: “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On,” p. 73.)
In this chapter Stormie Omartian states that we don’t always see the whole truth of what has happened to us, but she suggests that we look at the situation and ask, “What’s right with this picture?” She gives an example in her daughter’s life when she was sixteen, and the daughter came up with several positive things that came from a very negative situation. Omartian states the following on pages 74-75 in response:
This is not just positive thinking or trying to make good things happen with your thoughts. This is seeing things from God’s perspective and letting Him show you the truth. That means finding the light in what seem to be a dark situation. It’s knowing that, because you have invited God into every step of your life, you can find His light there no matter how dark it seems.
“Embracing the moment” is embracing God and finding Him in the moment. “Seeing what’s right with this picture,” on the other hand, is searching for the truth and seeing reality from God’s perspective. It’s being willing to let go of our determination to see things through our own tunnel vision.
Have you ever known people who are so set on believing something bad about another person that they refuse to hear anything good? They make a case against that person and everything that person says or does is twisted to support the case. Nothing will change their minds. Not reason. Not God. This is the same kind of hard-nosed narrow-mindedness that feeds prejudice, gossip, jealousy, and hatred. Seeing what’s right with this picture counteracts that tendency. It may be a lighthearted way of approaching a very dark-spirited issue, but it’s a good place to start. (Quote source: “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On,” pp. 74-75.)
We’ve all been guilty of judging other people because of something bad we might have heard about them, and then refusing to hear or consider anything good about them. And we can become hard-nosed, narrow-minded, and it does feed into prejudice, gossip, jealousy, and hatred. That is why she states that it is so important to look at “what’s right about the person/situation” to counteract that tendency in all of us.
She goes on to give a couple of examples of finding what’s right in a bad situation on page 76-78:
A friend of ours named Jonathan was laid off from work and was initially feeling very defeated about it. But instead of letting his frustration turn into bitterness, he looked to see what was right with this picture. Jonathan gradually recognized it as an opportunity to help his wife, Lisa, establish a new business she had been wanting to start now that their children were grown. Instead of falling into depression, he worked hard for her. The business soon took off and became one of the most successful companies of its kind in town. Lisa would never have been able to do what she did without Jonathan’s help. What seemed like a disaster at first actually was a blessing. What appeared to be a dark time because a time flooded with light. If Jonathan had complained and blamed God, refusing to see the situation from His perspective, things probably would have turned out quite differently.
This may be a big shock to you–I know it was to me–but often when we think something unfortunate is happening to us, it’s actually an answer to a prayer we have prayed. Only the answer didn’t manifest the way we thought it should, so we failed to recognize it. That’s why seeing what’s right is entirely a matter of having God’s perspective.
Jennifer had been praying faithfully for her troubled relationship with her husband, David. When the company David had been working for was downsized, he found himself without employment for what turned out to be ten months. This kind of a turn could have destroyed an already ailing marriage. But instead of sinking into despair, Jennifer asked God to show her the truth about the situation. God revealed it was not true that her husband’s career, as well as their marriage, was finished as they had both feared. The truth was that God had a great path ahead for them, but they couldn’t walk it if they were crippled by a broken marriage. God was giving them time together to repair it.
Instead of letting this situation become a disaster that ripped them apart, David and Jennifer wisely took advantage of the opportunity to seek Christian counsel, be with godly friends, and spend time together doing the things they never had time to do before. Their marriage was healed miraculously, and David eventually found more fulfilling work than he ever had before.
Often we pray for something and don’t even recognize the answer to our own prayers when we receive it because it does not happen the way we thought it would.
When I read about God leading the Israelites out of Egypt after many unmistakable miracles, I was amazed at how they continually grumbled and complained and failed to see how God was taking care of them.
“What is the matter with these people that they can’t see the answers to their own prayers?” I thought.
Then I realized we are all just like them. God is in the middle of doing something great for us and, because we are not as comfortable as we’d like to be, we don’t recognize the good things He has put in our lap. “Eyes they have, but they do not see” (Psalm 115:5).
How many blessings must we have forfeited because we resisted God when we should have been thanking Him?
Look at your life right now. Is there anything that worries or upsets you? If so, say, “Lord, show me what’s right with this picture. What is the truth in this moment? Help me to see it from Your perspective.” You’ll be amazed at what God reveals.
If your attitude is one of gratefully searching for God’s truth and goodness in any situation, it will change your life. You’ll never see things the same way again. No matter what happens, you’ll be able to say, “This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23). What we’re really talking about here is an issue of trust. It’s basically believing that God is good and he desires the best for you. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8). Give God the benefit of your trust and you’ll see that you are standing in more light then you ever dreamed possible. (Quote source: “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On,” pp. 76-78.)
This book is filled with information that is helpful to anyone who finds themselves stuck in a bad or trying situation. The above is just a small piece of the whole picture in the book regarding dealing with tough situations. I found it particularly helpful in dealing with my own feelings that still surface occasionally regarding a few people who were involved in what happened to me ten years ago when I lost that job; and after a major job search of several years I never found another job in my field. Also, as a Christian, I know that God is sovereign over every situation and He has an ultimate purpose in everything that happens.
As I looked to find “what’s right about this situation” regarding what happened to me back then, several things came to mind. My perspective on life has broadened in both knowledge and understanding of what is going on in the world today. This most likely would not have happened if I had continued working as I never would have been able to travel and do that things I’ve done over the past ten years that has lead to this knowledge and understanding.
Another major plus includes the stretching of my faith beyond anything I had previously experienced. This may not be obvious in looking at my current set of circumstances as they do not fit in with the typical “success stories” we like to hear that usually contain elements of prosperity, materialism, and outward success that we place a high value on in our society and, yes, even in Christian circles. We do tend to look at the outward appearance and judge accordingly (see I Samuel 16:7). However, God does not show favoritism between rich or poor, educated or illiterate, heads of states or common folks, as we tend to do, and God is no respecter of persons (see Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34); God looks at our heart attitudes (again, see I Samuel 16:7) and our faith in him (see Hebrews 11:6).
The toughest part for me in “seeing what’s right” has been dealing with my feelings regarding the few people directly involved in what happened to me that caused me to lose that job back then. As I mentioned above, I have gained both knowledge and understanding regarding our world today that goes beyond anything I knew at the time I lost that job. Because of this awareness, even though I sometimes still get a bit angry about what happened to me when I think back on it, I am far more willing now to cut them some slack as I don’t know their side of the story or where they fit into the total picture. So it has softened my feelings towards them over time.
Also, I have never wished them any harm or ill will even though what happened to me left me unemployed and financially devastated, and it changed the course of my life. We should never judge a bad situation by what it looks like on the surface as there is much still going behind the scenes that we may never know about. And that is where trust in God is essential. We have to leave it with God to deal with in His way, and our responsibility is to give God each day as it unfolds in our own lives (for those of us who believe in him). And we have to leave even our enemies (and I don’t consider anyone involved in what happened to me ten years ago as an enemy) in God hands, too.
There is a lot of good stuff in this book, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On.” Of course, the source of all wisdom is found in the Bible. As King David stated in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Nothing can replace the Bible as the source for the guidance we need in this life. Proverbs 3:5-7 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.”
And that . . .
Is very good . . .
Advice . . . .
YouTube Video: “Beyond Me” by TobyMac: