So, I was watching Wheel of Fortune the other night (I know, I know – it was the only thing on, believe me), and something hit me about our nature as people. See, for me, the most frustrating thing about watching that show is when I know what the answer is, but the contestant has no clue. On this particular episode, the puzzle was almost completely spelled out—the answer seemed so obvious!—and yet, instead of solving, the contestant spun the wheel and asked for some off-the-wall letter that couldn’t have been more wrong. I thought, “man, if that’d been me, I’d be winning this whole show right now.” C’mon—you know you do it too. OK, maybe not with Wheel, but what about with sports? I’ve done that one too—criticized the players for a play I thought I could’ve executed much better had I been in their place (even though, in reality, I would have done much, much worse with it).
We as people tend to see only our perspective on things, and we view other people and their actions and decisions based on what we would have done in their situations. The sad thing is, we don’t just do that with other people. We do it with God as well—and that can lead to some pretty serious flaws in our thinking.
I am absolutely floored every time I am reminded of Isaiah 55:8: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” Essentially, I’m not God, and the way I do things and see things are not the way God does—even the way I see myself. That’s an eye-opener.
Thinking back specifically about struggling with an addiction to pornography, there were countless times I felt like an absolute failure. I’m sure there are many who can relate to this. It’s one of the worst feelings to experience, especially after having resolved countless times to rid my life of porn, and failing time and time again. I really viewed myself as a failure, and when you’re in that place, at your lowest point, it’s so easy to feel very much alone. Because I viewed myself that way, I couldn’t imagine God viewing me any differently. I put myself in God’s shoes and couldn’t understand how God could possibly see me any other way than I saw myself. The problem was, my feet didn’t fit in His shoes. I needed to re-read Isaiah 55:8. The fact of the matter is: you’re not alone, and God does not view you as a failure.
I often recall in the Bible the story of Elijah, when he was at his lowest point. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah’s life was in danger, He had lost sight of God, he was totally depressed, and he was seeing himself as a failure. In verse 4, he even prays: “I have had enough, Lord, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Keep in mind, this is right after he just experienced one of the greatest moments of his life. You would think that, at this moment, he would have been absolutely sure of God’s being with him and confident in who he was in God. But Elijah was human just like we are, and he was looking at himself and his situation through his eyes. God’s perspective, though, was a much different story. At no point did God leave Elijah where he was. He was not angry with Elijah’s lack of faith. God did, though, bring to light the flaw in Elijah’s perspective by asking him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God knew exactly what Elijah was going through, but he was trying to help Elijah understand His perspective. Bottom line: he was there with Elijah, through the whole thing. God viewed Elijah as His child in need, and he ministered to Elijah, encouraged him, renewed him, put him back on his feet and helped him continue the journey.
God didn’t do this just because it was Elijah, either. Yeah, Elijah was a prophet and is regarded as a biblical hero, but that’s not why God was there with him. God loves and cares for each and every one of us just as much as He did Elijah. Galatians 2:6 makes this clear: “God does not show favoritism.” We as people may have our ideas of who deserves what. We may look more favorably on those who (seem to) have it all together than those who are down and out. I think about how we tend to treat those we regard as “celebrities” or heroes of ours differently than the struggling guy on the street. But again, that’s a flawed human perspective; it is not God’s. God loves each and every one of us immensely, no one more than the other, and no matter our circumstances, past, or present.
It’s crazy hard for us to love people that hate us, and it’s ever so easy to just write off people that have stabbed us in the back over and over again. But our ways are not His ways. It’s easy to look at ourselves as failures, unlovable and unforgivable, having been marred by our misuse of sex and our addictions to pornography. But our thoughts are not His thoughts. I’ve wondered many times in my life how He can continue to love me and forgive me. At those moments, I need to re-read Isaiah 55:8, along with the verses right before it. Check it out:
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.”
God loves you and values you beyond your comprehension. Trust in him. Stay close to Him. He will not leave you where you are.