The Discipline of Forced Perspective


“Perspective is Everything.”

When I first heard this statement, it surprised me.

No, it’s not! I rebelled. Reality is everything.

But as I let the statement sink in deeper to my understanding, I realized the truth it was pointing to. No matter what the reality is, perspective controls a person’s understanding of it.

I found a wonderful story in the Old Testament that demonstrates this concept.

Elisha’s in Trouble

The nation of Israel battled often with the countries around them for the land which was promised to them from God. In 2 Kings 6:8, the king of Syria decided he wanted to conquer Israel and take them as slaves. But, each time he told his army to advance, they found the Israelite army prepared and quick to avoid the attack. They already knew the next move he was going to make.

The Syrian king thought there was a spy, and asked his servants to reveal who it was.

“It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”

“Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.” …So the king sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city. 2 Kings 6:12-14

God Talks About You

One thing I wonder is: Didn’t he think Elisha would know they were coming to get him? God was speaking to the prophet regularly about what the king of Syria was doing. “…even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”

Have you ever considered that God speaks to others about you? Sometimes He may cause someone to pray for you or wonder how you are doing. Or maybe, out of the blue, you start to wonder about someone else? Maybe it was God who put it on your heart.

It may not be as complex as military battle plans, but I know it can be encouraging to hear that someone is praying for me.

Obviously Trapped

The next morning, one of Elisha’s servants headed outside, possibly to do chores, bring in water from a well or gather eggs for breakfast. What he discovers is that as far as the eye can see they were surrounded by the Syrian army. I wonder what they were doing, because nobody came to knock on Elisha’s door. Were they waiting for their orders? Was the king trying to figure out how to capture Elisha without him knowing?

The servant scampers back in to get Elisha and asks him what they could possibly do. Cornered with no way out, they were trapped. That is what was obvious.

But Elisha could see beyond what was obvious.

The Bigness of Our Circumstances

Circumstances in our lives can be dauntingly obvious. Losing your job, or trouble finding one. A difficult diagnosis or an ongoing illness. A strained relationship or hurt that never seem to heal.

These circumstances seem overwhelming. . . in your face, and extremely obvious.

Let’s look back to what Elisha said in response to his servant.

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.  2 Kings 6:15b-17

And what reason does Elisha give for not being afraid? For there are more on our side than on theirs! The exclamation point there shows the emphasis. I can just see Elisha boldly declaring how they had the upper hand in this battle and his servant scratching his head like, ‘Wha?’

Now, notice here Elisha doesn’t pray that the Syrian army would be destroyed or to escape from this dangerous situation. His prayer is simple… He just asks God to open the eyes of his servant.

God is Bigger

The Hebrew translation of this verse (2 Kings 6:17) describes the ability to see things which are hidden from the eyes of mortals. Elisha prayed for his servant to see the reality of the situation. He asked God to show him what was going on in the spiritual world.

Do you know what is going on in the spiritual world? From the beginning of time, angels have been directed by God to work in and around the lives of people here on earth. For the most part, we are unable to see what they are doing, but all throughout the Bible there are examples of God allowing people to see them. Even today, there are people able to see or have awareness of what angels are up to.

Oftentimes, we get so dragged down by the things in our life which appear so obvious.

Yes, they are real, and yes, they are there right in front of you.

But this story is a reminder that God is bigger. There is a real battle going on with angel armies engaged for the amazing work God is doing in your life, and He has the power to overcome the work of the enemy. The obvious can feel overwhelming, but if you ask God to help you see Him and His work, you may discover His victory is at hand.

Eyes to See

So, how do we open our eyes to reality?

1. Prayer

Do exactly what Elisha did: Pray. Turn to God and invite Him to show you what you can’t see.

2. Focus on the Truth

You can gain a greater understanding of the Truth by reading the Bible. Pick a theme that resonates with your situation (Fear, Trust, Finances, etc.) and search for scriptures about them. I can assure you that God will meet you there, every time, with renewed perspective or a promise to hang on to.

3. Speak What You Don’t See

Your words have power. Just as many in the Bible used their words in powerful ways, you can find great strength in speaking out (to yourself and others) the Truth God is showing you. Announce what you believe and live it!

4. Praise God for the Truth

Last, but very much not the least, I have recently discovered the power of worship to defeat the lies of a skewed perspective. When you focus on God’s greatness and the things he has done for you or blessed you with, you are unable to feel fearful or defeated.

Is there something I left out? Do you have another idea?

I’d love to hear how God is demonstrating His bigness in your life. Please share any stories or questions in the comments below. 

2 thoughts on “The Discipline of Forced Perspective

  1. Catherine Schuerman says:

    This is a wonderful reminder of the supernatural God we serve! In my art class I am training myself to really “see” what I am painting on not just rely on what I know about the object. Asking God for spiritual eyes to really see is a perfect tie in to a fresh perspective.

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