Art and FaithEncouragement and FaithSuffering and Faith

I attached my recent painting, “Hill Country Path by a Pond” because it provides a visual illustration of what it means to have a certain vantage point in art. I hope my vantage point in this painting will cause the viewer to wonder, maybe even anticipate what’s at the end of the paint, just over the hill.

What’s Your Vantage Point

Before I begin to paint any portrait, landscape, or still-life, I must make an important decision. What will my vantage point be? Every painting has one. Artists have been talking about their vantage points since the 13th century. For artists, the vantage point is that special observation point, perspective, or position we take from


which we paint a subject.

Before I make my first sketch, I ask myself, “Do I want my vantage point to be looking down on this scene from a high place? Or do I want to lie belly down on the ground and look up through the flowers at the same scene?” The vantage point I choose will determine what those who view my painting see and think about.

The same thing is true in everything you see and everything you experience in your life. How you view your circumstances is greatly affected by your vantage point. Throughout the Bible you will notice that God continually reminds His children that our vantage point is extremely limited and often distorted. But His vantage point is the best and most accurate. To put it another way, being who He is gives Him a big advantage. He looks at our circumstances from what I like to call a heavenly vantage point.

As the new Corinthian Christians struggled with understanding how to interpret God’s will for living in their anti-Christian culture, they wrote the Apostle Paul a letter telling him they felt pressured, perplexed, alone and abandoned by God. Paul’s response is found in the Bible. We call it his First Letter to the Corinthians. Paul sympathized with them, saying that he had for years and still was experiencing the same kinds of troubles. But he told them they needed to view their situation from a different vantage point. Here’s how he put it.

“We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. So, we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times; the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 4:18 MSG

It’s the same thematic perspective Paul shared in all his letters to the young struggling Christians in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colossi, Thessalonica, Philippi, Antioch, Jerusalem and others. It’s clearly summarized by three verses worth memorizing.

Romans 8:28  “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

I Corinthians 4:18 “We don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen …  the things we cannot see will last forever.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Paul encouraged his struggling young disciples to view their situation from a heavenly vantage point.

When I was a little fellow, I got a glimpse of how important it is for me to try to look at things I don’t like or I don’t understand from a different vantage point. Mama said she was sorry. She and Daddy didn’t have enough money to buy me a bike. All the other boys in our neighborhood had a bicycle to ride to school. I had to walk. My folks both worked hard, but some months I overheard them trying to figure out which bills to pay and which would have to wait.

After that, I didn’t bother Mama about that bike anymore and assumed she also forgot about it. That is, until Christmas morning when a brand-new red bike was parked next to our tree. Behind the scenes, Mama kept working during the day at the department store, but at night she took on babysitting jobs for extra money. I thought it was to pay our unpaid bills. I’m sure it was. But Mama and Daddy said it was also to save up money to buy me a bike so I wouldn’t be the only boy in the neighborhood who had to walk to school.

While you are in the middle of some painful, seemingly impossible problem or someone you love is going through, you may feel like God has forgotten you or turned His back on you. From an earthly vantage point, nothing is happening. God is busy taking care of the rest of the world. But from a heavenly vantage point, God is busy at work behind the scene. He’s never too busy for even one lost sheep or one wounded sparrow that falls to the ground. And you can be certain—He is working behind the scene for you.

When you get to wondering why God is not on your timetable, remember, His ways and timetable are not the same as yours. From His vantage point, He see things you cannot see. Our job is to wait and work while He works things out behind the scene. Like Paul the Apostle, as God’s beloved children, we know that our all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present Father is doing what’s best.