Viewing Events From An Eternal Perspective

Everyone experiences their share of painful, negative life events. We all experience loss. Sometimes the pain feels depressed_personlike more than we can bare. The pain of grief cannot be taken away, and really, it shouldn’t. We need to grieve when we experience loss. The process of grief is healthy and eventually healing.

However, there are some techniques we can use to ease our grief a bit. I learned one such tool in one of my trips to Thailand. I conducted brief annual clinics for missionaries in Thailand for seven years. The clinics were held at an annual conference of 1200 to 1500 missionaries, and I was asked to attend to offer counseling for those that needed it. The days were full and a very rewarding.

Each morning of the conference, a worship service was held for the attendees. The services were held in a large auditorium, with all of the 1200 to 1500 in attendance. One speaker shared a message that the difficulties in our lives take on a new meaning when we view them from an eternal perspective. He said that we tend to think of our losses in terms of the impact they will make on our remaining years on this earth. We imagine spending our days without the loved one. However, as Christians, we believe that our true existence is for eternity, not just for our earthly years.

As he spoke, I noticed a string tied to his podium and stretching upward all the way to the back ceiling of the conference center. The string had to be at least 150 yards in length. Later in the sermon, he pointed the string out to the crowd. He also noted that, near the podium, there was a small bead on the string. He said to think of our earthly lives as the string that was covered by the bead, and our eternal lives as the full length of the string, plus much more. He pointed out that any painful events that we experience on this earth are only here for a moment, but that we have an eternity ahead of us.

He noted that the years where we will miss that loved one are but a blink of an eye, in perspective to being with them again for an eternity. He then said that the difference between an earthly life of five years or ninety-five years seems enormous to us, but that when seen from an eternal perspective, it is only a moment in time. He asked us to remember that reality when we have to deal with earthly pain and loss.

Now, I fully realize that this perspective can be hard to maintain, when we are in the middle of grief, but I do find some comfort when I remember the string and the bead. I hope you will as well.


Question/Comment: Please share any perspectives or techniques that have helped you deal with grief and loss.

The Impact of the Ultimate Love

Feeling loved by another person is powerful. When we feel loved, without doubts, we feel more alive. Knowing that person’s love can make us God's_Childfeel warm, accepted and peaceful.

But human love has its limitations. It can be conditional and depend on our good or bad behavior. It may also depend on the other person’s mood or perspective. We can argue that the person doesn’t really know us or that the love is temporary.

So, what about God’s love. His love is unconditional. We can’t do anything to make God love us more and we can’t do anything to make Him love us less. He loved us while we were still sinners. Like everything else about God, his love is greater than we can imagine.

Imagine how our moods, choices and perspective would change if we allowed ourselves to experience a deep awareness of God’s love and felt it fully as we went through our days. How would it impact us? How would it impact our self-esteem? How would it impact our anxiety, depression and fears?

I think being a parent allows us to experience a small sample of God’s love. Your baby didn’t have to do anything to be loved by you. He couldn’t do anything to earn your love. He just ate, slept and pooped, yet your love welled up within you and nothing could stop it.

You held that baby in your arms as he slept. You gazed at his face or fingers and watched him breath. This was a powerful moment of your love for your baby. Have you ever considered that God watches you sleep with the same love you felt (and much, much more).

In 1962, Karl Barth, considered by many to be the greatest protestant theologian of the twentieth century, was giving a lecture. After the lecture, he was asked by a student if he could sum up all of theology in one sentence. His reply was that all theology was summed up by a line from a song that he sang at his mother’s knee:

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

 Today, work on reminding yourself that you are deeply loved by the creator of the universe; your creator. Remind yourself that this love is totally unconditional and permanent. Feel your Creator’s love, and see if it doesn’t change your day… and your life.


Questions/Comments: Please share a moment when you felt your Creator’s love and how it changed you.


Your Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting Depression – Part 4

In the first three articles in this series, I have explored three basic changes you can make to fight depression. These changes were to increase depressed_personphysical, social and pleasurable activity. The behavioral changes are difficult because depression makes its victim want to decrease physical activity, withdraw from others, and avoid previously pleasurable activities.

I used the analogy that depression is like an ugly, mean troll that gets inside the victim’s body and makes him want to do the very things that feed it and make it grow. When a depressed person decreases physical, social and pleasurable activity, his depression worsens.

Today, we will consider the fourth do-it-yourself depression fighter, which is: question your perceptions. Yes, when you are depressed, you cannot trust your perceptions. Depression distorts our perceptions in several areas, and those distortions are fairly predictable.

Depression distorts our perceptions of ourselves, our current circumstances, our past events and our future. We’ll look at each of these in turn.

The most powerful negative perceptual distortion is the victim’s view of himself. The depressed person sees himself as inadequate, unimportant, unlovable and a burden to others. He believes that others would be better off without him. He focuses on his failures and mistakes and dismisses his positive attributes and successes. This distortion of self often contributes to suicidal thinking.

Such thinking is truly a distortion. As I listen to a clinically depressed person describe himself or herself, I am amazed at the differences between the person’s real self and perceived self. These negative perceptions are deep and strongly believed. Nevertheless, they are wrong.

The victim’s perceptions of his current circumstances are usually distorted as well. The depressed person focuses attention on the negative aspects of life, while seeming to totally ignore the positive aspects. He will acknowledge the positives when they are pointed out, but they soon fade from awareness.

Depression also distorts one’s memories. Past mistakes feel more dire and unforgivable. They stand out in the victim’s mind. They are analyzed and replayed over-and-over. Past successes are forgotten or ignored.

Finally, depression creates a painful and hopeless vision of the future. Expectations are negative and pain seems permanent. The future looks bleak.

All of these perceptions are distortions of the truth. The distortions are predictable. So is the impact.

To fight depression, the victim must understand that his perceptions are not real. He must not trust his thinking or his feelings. He must remind himself daily that those perceptions are inaccurate. He must listen to and trust supportive friends and family who assert that his negative perceptions are wrong.

Imagine that you participated in a research study for a new drug. The researchers were very clear that this drug would temporarily distort your perception, but that this distortion would appear very real. You would have to remind yourself constantly that the drug was making you see things that were not real. By not trusting your perceptions, you would be able to function fairly normally. Depression’s distortion of perception is very similar. Depression is a chemical imbalance and this imbalance distorts perception in the same way as the experiential drug.

You can take positive steps to conquer depression by increasing physical, social and pleasurable activities, and by questioning your negative perceptions. Take the first steps today. You’ll feel better for the effort!