When we pass through trials, we tend to focus on the medium-term, which usually increases anxiety and worry. The bereaved widow worries about how she will cope in six months time, or who will look after her in five years time. The parents of a severely brain-damaged baby look ahead and worry over life-or-death decisions about the baby’s medical care. The discouraged pastor projects himself forward one year or five years and wonders how he can go on. A stressed-out mother panics when she imagines herself still running after four screaming kids next year, and the next year… The devoted husband watches his darling wife dying of cancer and hears a baby crying in the background.
For me, the antidote to medium term worry is to focus shorter and longer. I focus shorter by focusing on today. I get on with today’s tasks and responsibilities and make tonight’s pillow my major horizon. I refuse to think about tomorrow, next month, or next year. I have duties today. That’s my mountain to climb and, by God’s grace, I will climb it one small step at a time.
But, from time to time, I also want to focus longer. I want to look beyond the short-term and the medium-term and look towards the eternity-term. I try to remind myself that, for Christians, there is a day coming when all trials and afflictions will be over. The widow will never feel lonely again. Disabled children will think, feel, relate, communicate, and move in glorified bodies. Burnt-out pastors will be ministered to by the Lord Himself. Stressed-out mothers and bereft husbands will have all their tears wiped away. As Paul said, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.