I have been a Cincinnati Bengals fan all of my life. It has never been easy to continue cheering for them year after year, but I always will. If you are an NFL fan, then you already know that my beloved Bengals completely flopped in the playoffs this past Sunday. They were playing at home, where they had not lost a game all season. They were playing the lowest seeded team in the AFC, and a team they had already beat on the road a few weeks prior. During the game, they ended up with eleven more first downs and over a hundred more yards from scrimmage. Yet, they lost by 17 points. Continuing the longest streak in the NFL of seasons without a playoff victory.
I was trying to figure out just how in the world that could happen. How could a team have such consistently bad performances every time they have such a big opportunity? Then I began reading all of the facebook posts and newspaper articles from the fans and sportswriters. Over and over again, I read the same thing from different people. Everything I read was just affirming over and over again that the Bengals are a team that cannot deliver in big games, and they have a quarterback that fails in big games. Everyone in that city believed that the Bengals were going to choke, and that is exactly what they got. They were replaying past disappointments over and over again in their mind, and using it as an indicator of what to expect in the future.
God really used this as a teaching tool for me. He showed me how easily I can do this to myself. For us as human beings, it’s natural to look at a problem through logic, past experiences, and what we can see with our eyes. God, however, sees past all that. He looks at our challenges and see opportunity. Where we see a boring and meaningless job, God sees a ministry and place of growth. When we see hopelessness, God sees a chance for us to experience His hands at work in our life like never before. Where we see weakness in ourselves, God sees an opportunity to show Himself mightily.
There are so many examples in the bible where people see one thing physically, and God sees something far greater spiritually. In 1 Samuel 16, everyone else saw David as lowly Shepard, but God saw him as a king. In 2 Kings 6, Elisha’s servant saw a seemingly insurmountable Syrian army, and when God opened his eyes he could see that God’s army was present and was far greater than the enemy. In exodus 14, Israel saw the Red Sea as the barrier between them and freedom, but God saw it as the instrument of their deliverance.
When we start looking at the world through God’s eyes, we stop focusing on our problems and start focusing on the victory. Jesus has already won the victory for us. Now its just about accepting that victory and letting it reign in every aspect of our lives. As we begin 2014, lets replace the usual new year’s resolutions that focus on correcting undesirable behavior with spiritual solutions that focus on the victory that Christ has already won for us. Ask God what He sees when He looks at you and the plans the He has for you, rather than focusing on the past experiences and behaviors that have defined you to this point. Then paint vivid pictures of those victories in front of you. Remind yourself everyday of who God says that you are and where He is taking you.
Proverbs 16: 9 – A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
1 Samuel 16: 7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Philippians 4: 13 – I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.