I noticed the airplane as it headed in the direction of the airport near my workplace. It’s size, weight, and capacity were unchanged from the moment it left the airstrip of an airport that was its departure point, to the moment I noticed it flying above. But against the expanse of the sky, the airplane resembled a child’s toy. Context alters perspective.
This Advent season as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Savior, each day moving us closer to December 25th, I wonder, what is the context for my life? What is the context of your life? Against what backdrop am I, are you viewing that circumstance which is a source of anguish? The unanswered prayer? Our deepest longing? Your greatest joy? The event that fills you with anticipation? Or dread? Context gives perspective.
The trees in the photograph below are at least 20 feet high but against the expanse of the sky, appear much shorter. Context makes a difference.
David and Goliath. In this well-known Bible story, the two opponents used starkly different contexts to assess each other. Goliath viewed David from his over 9 feet frame, donned with a bronze helmet, a bronze coat of mail that weighed 125 pounds, and bronze leg armor. On his shoulder he held a bronze javelin and in his hand a spear with a shaft as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds (1 Samuel 17:4-7, NLT). I imagine that in Goliath’s mind were memories of his many victories that earned him the title, “champion.” He looked at David and was insulted. As he walked toward David, he sneered in contempt and roared, “Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick?” Then “he cursed David by the names of his gods” and yelled, “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” (1 Samuel 17:41-44, NLT). Context.
David looked at Goliath and saw “a pagan Philistine” who was allowed to “defy the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:26). He looked at him and recalled that the LORD had rescued him from the claws of the lions and the bears that attempted to steal lambs from his flock. David looked at Goliath and believed that the LORD would also rescue him from Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37). In response to Goliath’s taunts, David replied, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:45-47, NLT). Context.
The context Goliath used to assess David was himself but God was the context David used to assess Goliath. We know how that storied fight ended. What context are you using to assess the challenges in your life?