Here we are on the first day of a wonderful, New Year. I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions, but a verse I read recently in 2 Corinthians has challenged me to view life differently—so why not start today? In the verse, believers are advised to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.” The irony makes me smile. How in the world can I fix my eyes on something that can’t be seen? But I do understand what the verse means.
Like most of us, the believers in Corinth are experiencing trouble. Instead of dwelling on their problems, they are told to trust that God is at work in a way that isn’t visible. They are assured that “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Hmm. Does this principle really work? I decided to look back at some of the big and little troubles I’ve experienced over the years. Were the “seen” problems really only temporary, while God was accomplishing something else in the background, something that had eternal results? This example came to mind.
Years ago, I arrived as a freshman at Hope College filled with excitement about all the great courses I would take. But since freshmen were the last ones to register, I was frustrated to discover that the classes I wanted were all filled by the time I tried to sign up. This included “Introduction to Art” which I was eager to take to fulfill a college requirement. My advisor said to sign up for “Introduction to Music” instead, then wait for someone to drop out of the art class and switch. No one ever dropped out! I remember being very angry at being forced to spend time studying music, which didn’t interest me, just so I could maintain a B average and keep my scholarship. It seemed so unfair. But one day a handsome music major came up to me in the hallway and offered to tutor me. Thanks to him, I got an A in the course. We’ve been married for 47 years.
That’s one of the more light-hearted examples I’ve thought of, but of course there have been some serious “troubles” over the years. I thought my life couldn’t get much worse after my husband won a job performing with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in Manitoba, Canada. (Winnipeg is north of North Dakota, by the way). Thousands of miles from my family, I was stuck at home with three small children, buried beneath several feet of snow, and forced to endure sub-zero temperatures for months at a time. Believe me, I couldn’t imagine any eternal results. But that’s when I sat down one day while my children were napping and decided to try my hand at writing a novel. By the time we moved back to the U.S. after eleven years in Canada, I had finished four novels (and made peace with the Canadian climate).
As a new year begins, I’m taking time to reminisce about all my experiences, looking for the “unseen” blessing in each circumstance. In most cases, I can see that an eternal purpose was accomplished. In the cases where I can’t, perhaps that particular story isn’t finished yet. I’m amazed at God’s faithfulness in every circumstance. And while I won’t call it a New Year’s resolution, I wonder how different my life will be, how much less stressful, if I face any troubles that come my way in the new year with this verse in mind:
“. . . our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an
eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on
what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).