I was sitting in the Houston airport on Sunday waiting to fly back to Chicago. It was rainy and cold and overcast. As I sat there watching dark clouds continually roll in, I couldn’t help but think that so often that’s what pain looks like. If I could paint a picture of my heart these days I would illustrate this sorrow with storm clouds. Even on the clearest of days I can find myself in the middle of a downpour. Even when I am surrounded by laughter and joy and hope it can quickly turn into a tempest. Some days it just seems like the storm clouds of sorrow rush in out of nowhere.
I still had two hours to wait until I would board my plane, so I took out my Bible and began to read through Psalms. As I was reading, one phrase kept demanding my attention over and over and over again…
“Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.”
“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”
“But my eyes are fixed on You, Sovereign Lord; in You I take refuge…”
”Fix your eyes”
Fix: to direct one’s eyes, attention, or mind steadily or unwaveringly toward.
I don’t often think of what it actually looks like for me to “fix my eyes” on the Lord or His Word. In fact, in this fast-pace, instantly-gratified, never-satisfied, always-seeking-what’s-next culture that I’m immersed in, I find it difficult to fix myself on anything. There are always innumerable pursuits that are pulling for my attention. It’s always easier to let my eyes wander toward whatever is before them at the moment. And yet every time I submit my focus on anything other than the Lord I find myself stretched thin and overwhelmed by all of life’s circumstances. This is no way to live!
“The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply…”
Rather, than allow my eyes to drift toward whatever the world is promoting – chasing after other gods – I ought to fix my eyes on the Lord. Because it is only in the Lord that hope and joy and peace can be found in the middle of heartache and loss. In keeping my eyes steadily on the Lord (more than just occasionally acknowledging Him) I find that I am being strengthened and equipped to weather these storms.
Over the past year of walking through the loss of two children, I have begun to see that every single one of life’s aches provides an opening for us to live in greater nearness to the Lord – our refuge in the storm.
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.”
Sorrow is an opportunity.
Sorrow invites us to fix our eyes on the only One whose voice can calm the storm.
It was at the sound of His voice that the wind and rain found their existence. It is His voice that “makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings for the wind from Him storehouses.” (Psalm 135:6) It was His voice that calmed the storm at sea all those years ago as He called out, “Peace! Be still!” And it is His voice that “even the winds and the waves obey” (Mark 4:39,41)
I know that same voice can calm any storm that washes over me.
A short while later after my plane took off, I was struck with awe as we suddenly broke through the heaviness of the storm that had been just moments before covering us all in its heavy shadow. The sun was shining brilliantly. I could feel its warmth through the window as the cabin was instantly filled with its brightness.
My mind turned back to the verses I had read earlier that afternoon. This is what it looks like to fix your eyes on the Lord: to see His presence shine even on the
darkest of days. By fixing my eyes on Christ, by looking up and seeing Him in the sorrow, I am able to see that somewhere, above the storms, The Light never stops shining. My God, who is Most High, is not overshadowed by the storms of this world. In fact, these storms become the canvas upon which His eternal glory is so clearly and beautifully seen.
And even though God does not always choose to calm my storms or remove them, He offers me His perfect peace in the midst of them when my eyes are unwaveringly on Him.
“You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
And so day after day I will fix my eyes on Him. Because I know that just as that plane took me higher than the reach of the storm, so my God is able to carry me above the storms of life where His eternal light never fails.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18