Click! There I was in the beautiful aquarium in Outer Banks, North Carolina. The atmosphere was amazingly peaceful, and was a great escape from the hustle and bustle of my normal routine. At that moment, I was free from the usual demands for my time and energy. For once, I wasn’t worried about my day to day to-do list. I concentrated on forgetting about all that for the moment, and instead, enjoyed being surrounded by blue, glass-enclosed water, bursting with beautifully colored marine life.
It must have been my fourth attempt at capturing a reflective “non-selfie”. This was the perfect backdrop to the gorgeous shot that presently flooded my imagination. (Hint: It involved my silhouette and the fish.) Unfortunately, neither would cooperate. I grew a little disappointed at not being able to capture what I had in my mind’s eye, so I resigned myself to simply enjoying the graceful declaration of God’s expert creativity. It was mesmerizing to watch each stunning creature that glided past my eyes.
Then, while looking through the thick glass, the figure of a tiny little girl surprised me! From my darkened side of the display, I’d assumed I was looking back toward a wall. I hadn’t realized until this point that I could clearly see through to the other side. Her small face pushed against her side of the glass and between schools of fish, I could see her clearly now as the light shined behind her.
Just a few steps behind the little girl, a young woman, about 29 or 30, appeared. She casually donned converse sneakers perfect for running after 2 year olds. She wore jeans, and a pink t-shirt with black lettering on the back. She wore an expression that looked like contentment- not a smile, yet not a frown either. And she sported a telling hairstyle. She was bald.
I looked at her smooth head and her peaceful face and was captivated. The black lettering on the back of her pink shirt indicated a run to “fight for the cure”, and my heart was pricked. Here I am fighting with my camera, and through the glass is someone fighting for her life. I mentally paused, quite stunned at the stark reality that I saw through the other side of the glass. I felt embarrassed. Everything I normally complain about suddenly became non-issues as I stood amazed at this image of strength in front of me.
I exhaled slowly, realizing my breathing had become shallow at my introspection. I leaned forward into the tank’s cool glass wall, placing my palms against it, and I prayed. I prayed in a breathy fervent whisper for, assumedly, a young mother and her ailing body. I continued to watch as she leaned down to take the wandering toddler’s hand. The little girl seemed to be leading, taking her mom, to the next display. The whole scene lasted maybe only 2 minutes, but it seemed to linger. Turning my back to the glass, I looked up shaking my head . “Father,” I whispered, “I’m so sorry for complaining.”
See this isn’t about the “it could be worse” or “someone has it worse than you” perspective. We really shouldn’t like the idea of making ourselves feel better by considering someone is worse off than I am. It’s about being aware of your response in personal battles, because no struggle is alike. Your battle is not my battle. It can either rock you or ground you. What shakes me may not shake you. What threatens to break you may not break your neighbor. This is why comparing your struggle (your advantage, if you will) to another’s seemingly worse struggle is pointless. Instead, observing the way another responds (their vantage point) in the struggle, is instrumental.
Isn’t that the same thing you may ask?
You see, comparison implies getting an upper hand of some kind. It concludes “I’m not as in need as I thought because this person is in a worse position.” When you seek advantage, you lift yourself up by viewing another as lower.
Vantage, on the other hand, is about viewpoint. It’s eye opening perspective, if you may. It’s concluding that I can respond with strength and hope in this adversity because of the example I see in my neighbor.
When it comes to adversity, advantage results in pride. Vantage, on the other hand, results in compassion and hope. Vantage is walking by faith, rather than by sight. It is speaking of things that don’t exist as though they already do. Vantage is walking in fire, certain of deliverance, one way or the other.
But now face to face…
Looking through the glass put me face to face with my pride. I suddenly realized my complaints were nothing more than a silent declaration that “I don’t deserve this suffering.” So, what about the little 2 year old’s mom. Did she? Or how about the adorable little girl herself, did she deserve the suffering more than I? Even more, what about Christ? Did he deserve to suffer? See, for three young Hebrew guys many years ago it wasn’t arrogance or pride that helped them face the fire, it was their view point.
Suddenly, I understood the look on that young woman’s face beneath her smooth crown. It wasn’t just contentment – It was hope. It was hope possibly born from deciding to make the most of the moments she has with her baby girl. It was hope resulting, maybe, from the stories of those who have won this battle. Rather than an arrogant resolve to “fight this” because of another’s loss or suffering, it was a faith-filled response to observed victories.
The writer Paul had an excellent vantage point in his letter to a group in Rome. He declared, in faith, that the sufferings of the present time were incomparable to the glory to be revealed in us at the end. To the Corinthians he penned, “For now, we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face…” Sometimes we can only guess what God is doing in our lives. But one day , from the vantage point of what’s ahead, we’ll see the bigger picture. It’ll all become clear, and it will all make sense from that greater point of view.
about the author
Chantel is the wife of an awesome spirit filled man of God, mom of the fun “spectacular six”, and a daughter of the most high King. She has a heart for connecting with others: a passion for evangelism, a joy for writing poetry and songs, and a desire to stir people to a relationship with God through His Word. You can also find her on her blog here – One Message – One Faith.