I had a moment today, one that opened my eyes to truth about looking up. During my life, my precious mother has encouraged me to, “Look up” when I was focusing on pain, problems or hurt. She is wise, for sure, but I had no idea that her advice matched God’s Word, until now.
My daughters and I along with my parents, who were visiting, sat in our den to reflect on part of Romans 5:3-5 today.
Romans 5:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
We started doing the “Looking For Lovely” Bible study last week and continued today. I discovered the Greek origin of a word in Romans that has resonated so strongly. In Romans 5:3, we hear Paul say, “Rejoice in suffering…”. Throughout my life, I have read that verse and always wondered how a person can rejoice during hard times.
I found out that the Greek word which translated as “rejoice” in Romans 5:3, has also been translated as “boast” or “glory” in other translations, but it has a much deeper meaning in the Greek. This word is derived from a root that means “neck” which allows us to interpret the idea of looking up and lifting your head up high. I realize now that Paul was not telling the Romans to throw a party to rejoice or glory in suffering, but to, rather, realize that as we face hard times, we are able to hold up our heads knowing that God is in control. He has given believers in Jesus a peace and a hope which Romans 5:1-2 talks about but we will also have hope on the other side of our suffering if we face our suffering by looking up instead of down and focused on our problem.
I know that when we walk the road of life, there are choices that we face daily. One of those choices will be to choose to look up when everything and everyone around you chooses to focus on the trouble, pain and heartache. Romans 5:4 tells us that as we rejoice in our suffering, we will develop perseverance then perseverance will add to our character. Once our character is relying on God’s Hand, we can be sure that hope will be kindled in our hearts to keep on trying.
It is like a spiritual journey in which my decision to look at my problems from a vantage point of God’s Grace, leads me into a stamina like I’ve never known. I appreciate the original meaning of “rejoice” now because it implies that I have a choice to either stay down or to look up. Once I look up, my vantage point allows me to have new and improved lines of sight. Instead of the problem, I can see the blessings. God’s peace and blessings are all around in our lives but I sometimes miss them because I am not looking up.
I plan to look up and see blessings, see His marvelous Grace, experience His glory which He has given and allow hope to grow in my life.
My prayer for today:
Thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me.
I recognize that my suffering is real, but I choose to not focus on it.
I am choosing today in my spirit to look up. I look to you and praise you for your grace and blessings in my life.
I am able to take breaths, repeat Scripture and release my breath to you, the One who designed my body and the air I breathe.
Thank you for providing in my heart a willingness to persevere. Help me to develop your character as I persevere. As that character reveals itself in me and my life, allow me to recognize the hope that will result.
It has been too easy to dwell on the problems, the past, the hurt, the what ifs.
I am ready now, Jesus. I am choosing to look up above problems and pain. I know, Jesus, that You had numerous problems on Earth. These problems could have made you lose heart. Help me to pray continually and look up in your Power like you did. Thank you for how you lived on Earth as a person. You knew that to overcome the evil one, you had to look up to our Father who gave you the ultimate victory.
Thank you for the cross. Help me to deny myself and the idea of focusing on problems and pain and to instead take up my cross and follow You.
Thank you for my family. Thank you for my parents who trust You and for my mother whose words to “Look Up” have stayed with me and are even ones that I will tell my children. Thank you for helping her to keep looking up and giving her hope as she persevered through a long sickness. Please encourage my family and friends to look up and give them fresh perspective of You.
In the strong and mighty name of Jesus.
The Greek word “Rejoice” is “Kauxáomai,” Helps Word Studies, copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc. Available online from Bible Hub at biblehub.com
“Looking For Lovely” by Annie F. Downs, LifeWay Press, 2016, p.13-16