I have had a bad few days. It’s the second anniversary of my Mom’s death; it was a torrential rain storm with lots of flooding and the phone calls to find out if I was safe (and used to drive me crazy) from my Mom never came; it seemed like everything I did or said came out wrong and was fueling arguments, this week is also the first anniversary of the death of a life-long friend, and then I found out that someone I’ve had dealings with at work with for over a dozen years is dying from pancreatic cancer. I was having a teary day, and it was the night I was supposed to go to Bible study, and I didn’t want to go – I wanted to go home and pull the covers over my head and cry.

Instead, I turned my struggles over to our Lord God and thought of James’ words, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3) Truthfully, I wasn’t feeling very joyous.

Currently in our Bible study we are between studies and had previously decided to watch a movie, “God’s Not Dead” on this night. I had never seen the movie before, but it was just what I needed to see (and cry through) that night. In case you haven’t seen it, I won’t ruin it for you.

My take-away from the movie in a nutshell: We are taken through certain circumstances and along the way we are given opportunities to promote the Kingdom of God. Are we focusing on our circumstances, or focusing on God?

“A man once visited the doctor because it seemed that his entire body hurt. Every single place he touched brought great pain. The doctor looked him over and then said, “Well, this is very unusual. I don’t see anything wrong.” He then asked the man to touch different places on his body—and each time the man did so, he cried out in pain. After a few minutes of going through this process, the doctor pinpointed the issue. “Sir,” he said with a bit of a sigh, “you have a dislocated finger.” Once he got the real problem fixed, he got his pain problem fixed. A number of us are going through life like the man with a dislocated finger. We have a lot of issues in a lot of areas that are painful, disappointing, or frustrating. It seems like the entire thing is a mess. However, the solution for getting all else functioning properly in your life boils down to one primary principle found in God’s Word. If you can get this one thing right, you will get everything else right simply because this one thing affects everything else.” (From Chapter 7 The Kingdom Agenda from Dr. Tony Evans)

The centerpiece of The Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 6:33, which also happens to be the centerpiece of kingdom living: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).

So for a few days, I’ve been looking at my situation — at my feelings. I was reminded (again) to look up! Looking up puts our grief (and other feelings) in perspective. How often has God grieved when we choose to put something else before Him? Today, I choose to look up.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)