What I focus upon in any situation will influence the outcome.
Help me, Lord, to fix my eyes upon You,
and to see the joy of completing Your purpose in me.

Scripture for Today: “… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1b-2 NASB

Jesus – who for the joy set before Him – endured the cross. Jesus focused on the joy so He could endure the suffering. Jesus kept his eyes on the prize so He would stay faithful to the mission. Jesus, while despising the shame, steadfastly fulfilled His purpose. Jesus did not waver at the promises of God, but continued in faith – regardless of how others treated Him and spoke about Him – knowing God is faithful. And He did it because He saw the JOY of His purpose fulfilled! Oh, that we could be like Jesus!

Life is hard. People can be mean. Times can be tough. Circumstances can cause chaotic challenges. Struggles can bring suffering. When the going gets rough, what is our focus?  What is our response? Frustration? Aggravation? Despair? Defeat? I would argue that our response is a direct result of the things upon which we focus and embrace.

If we fix our eyes upon ourselves, the way is made for selfishness, bitterness and strife to manifest. There is no joy found there.  If we fix our eyes upon the negative imaginations, our endurance will falter. If we focus on defeat, failure is assured. As we embrace shame, our purpose dwindles. As we forget the promises, we become usurped in fear. When we are consumed with suffering, defeat has won.

However, if we fix our eyes upon Jesus, love, peace and life abound. If we fix our eyes upon the positive possibilities, our endurance strengthens. If we focus on victory, success is possible. As we embrace deliverance, our purpose is rekindled. As we unwaveringly believe the promises, faith enlightens. When we are convinced of the mission – setting our eyes on the joy of its completion – vision is restored and ability is renewed.

Jesus said in John 16:21, “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.”

I like that Jesus used the birth of a child in this lesson. Having given birth to three beautiful children, I understand the pains of labor and the joy set before me – if I could just endure the sufferings… The pain and suffering were challenging and seemingly unbearable. But I knew the result of my labors would be holding, loving and raising an amazing miracle – a child formed in the image of me and my husband. I could think of no greater joy. That joy caused me to be able to endure the sufferings of labor. However, if I focused on the pain during that labor, I would quickly lose sight of the joy and become overwhelmed with the pain.

Everyone gives birth to new endeavors, pursuits, & seasons in their lifetimes, which often produce new trials, pains and sufferings. What we choose to focus upon during these times will either result in greater sufferings and failure, or keep us moving toward the completion of the goal. We can all recall times when we’ve chosen to focus on our sufferings, and times when we’ve chosen to focus on the joy of accomplishing the mission. Our focus, often times, is the determining factor of our success or failure.

I challenge you this week – no matter what you may be facing – choose, to set your eyes on Jesus and focus on the joy of you completing the goal and fulfilling your purpose.  The joy of the Lord is our strength. In His presence is fullness of joy! Rest in His presence and be assured of His faithfulness. Our God of hope will fill you with joy and peace as you believe. Commit, like Jesus, to see the joy set before you!

Scripture References: Proverbs 23:7; Nehemiah 8:10; Psalms 16:11; Romans 15:13