Looking at Life Through the Right Lens
Recently I noticed some difficulty reading small print, so off I went to the optometrist to be examined. The doctor tested several different lenses over my eyes until I was able to read the 20/20 line without any problem. She then fit me with a pair of reading glasses made with these lenses and voilà, my sight was fixed!
In much the same way, God offers us a lens that can fix our spiritual vision – the vision we need to view life correctly. I call that lens the lens of faith.
Often when we think about faith, we don’t view it as a lens we look through, but rather exclusively as a means through which we receive blessing from the Lord (although admittedly, there is some truth in that). We know that faith is one of the power-twins needed for salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9); we know that in order to receive anything from the Lord, we must ask in faith (James 1 :6); and we know that without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).
In truth, everything good that comes from God, comes by grace, through faith; it’s the pathway through which God’s goodness manifests in our lives. But we often talk about “having faith” as if it were a kind of lever we must pull in moments of need which allows us to receive what God wants for us.
I believe there is a better way to think about faith. It actually should be seen as a kind of corrective lens we put on to help us see life more clearly. It helps us to comprehend and make sense out of confusing circumstances, and helps us to see Christ even in the midst of a crisis. When we wear faith as a lens, we believe that even though we can’t see Him, we know that God is working for our good in every situation we face (Romans 8:28).
Faith is not like a lever you pull in Las Vegas that sometimes hits and sometimes misses; it is a lens that is always available to guide you through times of darkness. But you have to choose to look through it.
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The Right Lens
Truth is, everyone wears a lens of some kind. For example, we wear either the lens of faith or the lens of fear. The one you wear will make all the difference in your life.
Every Bible hero wore the lens of faith. In 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha and his servant were surrounded by a confederate of enemy armies. The servant was anxious and frantically asked Elisha, “What are we going to do?!” Death looked imminent, the situation ominous. But instead of fear, Elisha prayed.
“’Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16 -17).
The servant panicked because he viewed the circumstance through the lens of fear, while Elisha remained in perfect peace. Elisha saw the crisis through his lens of faith.
Faith is a far superior lens than the lens of fear. It’s not that we are ignorant optimists, but rather that we’ve been to the Heavenly Optometrist! It’s not that we ignore “what is,” it’s that we have a greater confidence in the One who holds our lives in His hands. It’s not that we are immune to what is around us, it’s that we have evidence of Who surrounds us. Like the great prophet, we must look with the lens of faith!
But don’t suppose the great heroes of the Bible naturally looked through the lens of faith, as if they had a “faith gene.” Bible “greats” only become great because they choose to look through the lens of faith in the midst of their crisis.
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It’s Your Choice
The account of the twelve spies in the Promised Land (Numbers 13) is very insightful here. These twelve men were chosen to go because they were the best that their respective tribes had to offer. They were cut from the same cloth: each had been raised with similar opportunities and privileges. They went into the Promised Land together and saw the same thing – a truly blessed land “flowing with milk and honey.” It was a land with produce that looked like it was pumped with steroids – with grapes that were as big as basketballs. And they all saw the giants who lived in that land, and ate those grapes!
So when these twelve men, the “best of the best,” came back from spying out the Promised Land, ten of them said:
“We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. … ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land” (Numbers 13:27-28, 31-32a).
Ten of them chose to see their circumstances through fear and failure. But two chose to look at the situation through the lens of God’s promise, the lens of possibility – the lens of faith.
“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it’" (Numbers 13:30 ).
Two sets of people got exposed to the same thing, but some chose to see and respond with the lens of faith, while others chose the lens of circumstances and fear. So what is the takeaway? Looking through the lens of faith is a choice we all must make in any situation. There is no “faith gene.” It’s not automatic; it requires you to choose.
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Choosing the lens of faith is choosing life; any other lens is inferior and produces bondage, not freedom. Sometimes you can’t stop what happens to you, but the lens of faith keeps the life of God flowing through you. Make the decision to put on the lens of faith in your life! Here are three tips to get you started.
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Tip 1: Watch Your Mouth
Notice the difference between what Caleb and Joshua said (“We are well able to overcome it”), and what the other ten said (“The land is strong, the cities are fortified and very large, the giants are big and we are grasshoppers”). Those that spoke words filled with faith in God were able to look at a terrifying situation through the lens of faith. However, those that spoke about “facts” could only see certain failure in their future.
What you say ultimately affects what you believe in your heart, and has a profound effect over the lens that you choose to look through. I’m not suggesting you deny the facts, but do declare your faith in God’s word.
Pray Psalm 91 aloud over yourself and your loved ones. Remember every morning that you dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Agree with God that He is your refuge and fortress, and in Him you trust. Acknowledge that He will deliver you from harm, and no evil shall befall you nor any plague come near your house! Declare with the psalmist that He will give His angels charge over you, and will answer you when you call on Him in prayer. Never forget He will be with you in trouble, and will deliver you. Declare that all of God’s promises toward you are “Yes” and “Amen!”
As you speak God’s promises, you’ll have faith! Most importantly, believe that in everything, God is good, He is for you, not against you, and you will be able to look at every situation through the lens of faith!
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Tip 2: Watch What You See
The Scripture says that two of the spies carried one of these massive clusters of grapes on a pole back from the Promised Land to show to the camp of Israel (Numbers 13:23). The verse does not indicate who those two men were, but I would bet the ranch that it was Caleb and Joshua!
I can just imagine when everyone else had their eyes fixed on the fearful size of the giants in the land around them, Caleb and Joshua had their eyes fixed on the fantastic size of the grapes before them. By focusing on the natural circumstances, the ten lost the ability to access God’s supernatural provision through the lens of faith.
Our takeaway is that we must always be careful what we look at if we are going to continue looking through the right lens. It seems obvious, but what you choose to pay attention to during your crisis determines whether you choose the lens of faith or the lens of fear.
Tip 3: Watch What You Hear
Caleb and Joshua agreed with what God said and declared, “We are able! God is with us!” They cut short those who were speaking about failure and impossibility, and reminded them of God’s promises. Every time these faithful men spoke up and encouraged the people to believe God, they were actually coaching them about what it takes to intentionally choose to look through the lens of faith, and what it means to stay in agreement with the Word of God. It was important what report Israel heard.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Generally, what you hear most often will determine what you will believe and have faith in. Understanding this basic concept is so important today. If you must watch the news to know what’s going on, remember to first “hear” the Word of God on the matter!
Saturate your mind with the Word of God. Saturate your soul and your spirit, because it’s medicine for your mind and body, and light to your lens. In times of crisis, declare His promises, His plans and His protection available in accordance with the Word of God. It’s the right life lens.
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Put on Your “Protection from Infection"
After the spies came back and shared their bad report, the Bible says Israel cried and wept. (Numbers 14:1) Clearly, Israel did not practice “social distancing” from toxic and infectious information! As a result, most of them got infected with worry, anxiety and fear – and it crippled them.
Satan’s ultimate battle is a battle for your mind; wearing the lens of faith provides us with protection from this kind of mental infection. Thankfully, it’s available to anyone who will choose to wear it. It enables us to see what is invisible to others, including the good hand of God against the backdrop of life’s evil and pain. It enables us to overcome life’s heartaches and still hold onto a joy unspeakable and full of glory, deep within our souls.
The lens of faith says, what the enemy meant for evil against me, God will turn around and use for good. You can declare that God will use that very thing to make you stronger. It’s better than a magnifying glass, it’s superior to a set of glasses, and it sees further than the most powerful telescope. It is the lens of faith!
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Frank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc. Photo by Michele Roman.