Where does the human heart focus when life is not how we want it? When it is thinking about something in the present, very often it is on how things would be better if they were different. If there have been difficult conversations, the mind may go out to rehearse what was said in the past and how things could have been said in a different way. The mind may then go to future possible conversations, figuring out how to ensure that things go the way that you want them to.
Reasons for a Shifted Focus
In the process, we do not live in the present with a heart that is focused on glorifying the Lord. Why is this the case? The first reason is that the person is suffering. The suffering involved is something that we do not like and do not want. This could involve things such as relational difficulties or times of financial uncertainty. I see it a lot when people have been treated badly by others, struggle to speak up for themselves, or are experiencing some form of injustice.
Secondly, it is an attempt to change things. We imagine past and future scenarios so that things are different than they are now
and in a way that works out well. Perhaps the person guilty of injustice comes to see their evil ways or we are able to verbalize something in such a way that the person involved suddenly changes his or her mind and sees things our way.
A third reason is that we are trying to understand things. We are trying to work it all out in our minds. We believe that by understanding all that is going on and why people do or say certain things, we can have a grasp on the situation.
Taking a Grasp
Grasp! I think that is the key to what goes on in our hearts. We are trying to have a form of control over our lives and people when things upset us or cause us or others to suffer. When I thought about how to deal with this, I thought about what Peter wrote to the persecuted, suffering church in 1 Peter 1:13-21.
First, the readers are taught to prepare their minds for action. They are to be sober-minded. This means being purposeful and focused in their thoughts. It is not a looking to the past or to an imagined future scenario when life on this earth works out as we want it.
Second, their thoughts have to be on the future. The future thoughts are to be about the grace that will be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Thoughts about the future are to be about the Lord.
Third, Peter does encourage change. The change is that they no longer live in their former passions. This would include repenting of pride, sinful anger, and the resultant gossip and cynicism. The change is toward being obedient and holy. This means reflecting the perfect character of the Lord.
Fourth, there is a realization that we will all be judged. This realization should cause us to lead our lives in the fear of the Lord. That means an appreciation, admiration, and apprehension of who he is.
Fifth, understanding that you have been redeemed from the futile way of the past means that you place your faith and hope in God.
Applying the truths of 1 Peter 1:13-21 when we tend to focus on the past and an imaginary future, will lead us to live in a different way. Instead of trying to grasp our situation, we will be responsible before the Lord to focus our thoughts on him and his truth about the future. Since he has redeemed us from futile and ignorant lives, we will repent of sinful heart issues and lead holy and obedient lives, understanding that we will be judged by the impartial judge. Instead of thinking about the past and an imaginary future, our focus in the present is on the Lord, an eternal future with him, and on leading a holy life.