What’s Your Interpretation? (Part 2)

letters 2

It’s not the FACTS of our circumstances, but the INTERPRETATION we bring to them that determines whether we experience blessing or trouble from them (see my earlier post).

In Lost in the Middle, Paul Tripp describes 2 sufferers, whose interpretations of their trials have radically different consequences:

Phil, a successful managing engineer, was laid off at age 40.

“At first Phil seemed like he was doing quite well. He talked about God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. He seemed quite confident that, with his résumé and experience, he would soon be back to work. He got his résumé out and anticipated quick responses. Phil was shocked when the first batch of mailings didn’t even get one response. After a month of the same his confidence began to flag.”

“Phil’s wife Sarah noticed at first. He was spending hours alone in his office at home. He was increasingly short tempered and irritable. There were outbursts of anger that she had never experienced before. Phil became more sullen and depressed as the months dragged on…”

Eventually Phil committed adultery and rejected God.

“He couldn’t believe that a good God would let this happen to him. He couldn’t believe that after years of obeying God, this is what he got. He felt like everything he had ever worked for had been taken away from him….He saw life as unfair and unjust and God as distant and uncaring. Bitter and cynical, Phil not only forsook his family; he forsook his faith as well.”

Dean, in upper management, was physically active, loved sports and the outdoors. At 46 he suffered a series of strokes.

“Dean was very discouraged to be on disability such a young age. He had lost his physical capabilities so early in life that he could not imagine what the years to come were going to bring…. but Dean was firm in his belief that God is good, and he was humble enough to recognize that he did not deserve anything that had been taken from him. He also realized that every day he still received from the hand of the Lord everything he needed to do what God called for him to do.”

“Dean began to see disability as an opportunity and the fact that he had many years ahead of him as a real benefit. He could do things that many people yearn to do but are never able. Dean had been able to put his job behind him at a very young age and turned his focus to active Kingdom ministry…. Dean refused to give in to the discouragement that he so powerfully felt or the doubts that had hit his heart with the force of a sledgehammer…. Although living with a chronic disease was very hard, Dean lived each day with joy and expectancy, busy at the work that God had given him to do.”

How are you interpreting the facts of your life today?

I hope that whether you’re enjoying blessings or enduring pain, you see your circumstances as ordained by our sovereign, loving God for his glory and your ultimate joy.

photo by Leo Reynolds

  • Bo

    A great post on a very important topic. Thanks, Mark.

  • Bo

    …Oh, and when I stare long enough at the picture I see a group of humpback whales swimming around Saturn.

  • http://fancyfarm.blogspot.com Courtney

    I find that it always seems easier to help someone else find the sunny spot in their less than perfect situation than it is to see it in my own. I’m not sure why while in the midst of trial it seems like my own worry will get me farther than resting in God’s sovereignty and praising Him because I know that we go through those valleys that we may be refined and shaped that He may be glorified.

    I was listening to the Come Weary Saints album while in the car today and I was broken and humbled yet again by ‘As Long as Your Are Glorified’ that in my sinful humanness, I am all too apt to grumble in days of rain. Far more often than I care to admit.

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Thanks Bo. And you know, actually they are swimming around Neptune. But you were close.

    Hi Courtney, Welcome to the club. It’s a constant challenge for me to be thankful and rejoice in my peewee trials. Praise God that we have a Savior who will keep reminding us to give thanks and trust him in his sovereign love.