Changing the way you see God will change your life, your relationships, and every experience you have. Yes, you will find happiness and even joy when you change the way you see God! But how do you experience God in a different way? How do you revive a stale relationship with Jesus Christ and renew your connection with the Holy Spirit?
One obstacle to changing how you see God is unanswered prayer. Here’s a heartfelt, honest comment from a She Blossoms reader on If You’re a Christian, Why Aren’t You Happy?:
“I have not had prayers answered the way I want and yet I still pray. My faith is weak. Why should I keep praying for something that obviously is not going to happen? I believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I pray all the time, every day. I talk to God in my thoughts and from my heart, out loud and in the quiet of my soul. And yet, I wait. I understand the reasons for unanswered prayers. Sometimes yes, sometimes not yet, and sometimes no. I’m overwhelmed with worry and anxiety about SO many things, and yet God is SO quiet. Still I wait, and hope. Maybe today, maybe later, maybe tonight. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe God is using this for me to grow closer to Him and to trust Him more. I don’t know. I am close to Him. I am trying to trust Him more. Either way and for whatever reasons, there is nothing that I can do, but ask and Pray. I am an unhappy Christian and I seem to have no joy right now. I am SO thankful for everything, but I don’t know how to be joyful. Please tell me.”
She believes in God and prays often. All the time, even! She may even love God, perhaps even trust Him with her life. And yet, she’s unhappy. She doesn’t know how to be a joyful Christian. She asked for help changing her relationship with God.
Here’s what I think: she is not a happy Christian because her happiness depends on God answering her prayers. She is not praying because she wants to spend time with God. Her focus isn’t on having a relationship with Jesus Christ or dwelling in the presence of the Holy Spirit for its own sake. She is praying because she wants God to answer her prayers. She sees God as a divine giver of good gifts — and He is! But gifts alone will not make her happy.
How to Change the Way You See God
There is nothing wrong with asking God to answer our prayers! Jesus told us to weave in “Give us this day our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer. It’s good, natural, and right to ask God for blessings, healing, love, solutions, unity, peace love joy freedom wisdom and the Spirit’s guidance.
But if your happiness or joy depends on how or when God answers your prayers, then you’ll always struggle with unhappiness, fear, anxiety, and doubt. You’ll never learn how to be happy because God won’t always answer your prayers the way you want.
So, rather than focusing on the outcome of your prayers or how God answers your heartfelt pleas and greatest needs, you need to change how you see God. Then you will be a “happy Christian.” Even better, you’ll be filled with the joy, forgiveness, love, freedom and peace that surpasses all understanding.
1. Learn that if you knew what God knows, your prayers would change
When God says no to the desires of your heart, you may feel disappointed, brokenhearted, even shattered. You want that thing so bad — and it’s a good thing! It’s healing for a terrible health issue, or justice for a serious wrong. It’s life for someone dying, or food for someone starving. It’s money for a humanitarian or even a Godly purpose, or hope for someone who feels hopeless and alone. Your prayers are for the good of people, places, and even your pets.
But you don’t know what God knows. You don’t know what other spiritual forces are swirling about, what the future holds, and what might happen if your prayers are answered exactly the way you want. That’s why Jesus said “Not my will, but Your will be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed. If you truly, deeply understand that the Holy Spirit knows things you don’t and never will know, your relationship with God will change.
2. Get over yourself
You may not want to be ruled by your own perspective, self-interest, ego, desires, or the opinions of others, but how do you actually live in freedom, joy and love? How do you stop those sneaky little sins from creeping up and consuming you? How do you change how you see God when you’re unhappy, unfulfilled, hopeless and sad? Easy! You just have to get over yourself. You simply learn how to recognize when pride and self-interest are elbowing their way forward. Then you stop doing and feeling bad, and start doing and feeling good.
Except it’s not as easy as it looks, is it? It’s hard to just trust that God knows what He is doing, that He wants what is best for you, and that He really is working all things together for your good. It’s hard to stop comparing your life to other people’s, to not care about looking good or being liked. It hurts to be criticized, ridiculed, hated, condemned, even beaten or tortured. It’s not as easy as Jesus made it look.
Actually, wasn’t at all easy for Jesus. How did he do it? How did he “get over himself” so he could wholeheartedly and single-mindedly follow the Father’s will—even to death on the cross?
3. See yourself the way God sees you
I don’t know exactly how Jesus changed the way He saw the Father’s will for His life, but I do know what changed my relationship with God. In a Bible Study group a few years ago, we did a fifteen-minute writing exercise. We pictured ourselves the way God sees us, and wrote ourselves a letter from His perspective.
When I saw myself through God’s eyes, my heart melted. I was filled with compassion, love, and kindness for the wounded, unhappy, selfish, sad little Laurie I had become. I saw myself as a little girl with ribbons and curls, all bouncy and joyful! Precious, lovable, and worthy of God’s attention. Innocent and vulnerable, whole and free, loved by Jesus, embraced by the Holy Spirit. That exercise changed my relationship with God and healed me in so many ways.
Sit alone with a pen and paper for fifteen minutes. Open your heart to the Holy Spirit. Picture yourself through your Heavenly Father’s eyes. How old are you, what do you look like? How do you feel? Where are you stuck, broken, wounded? Imagine Jesus looking down at you from the cross. What do you see in his eyes?
This exercise doesn’t affect everyone the same way. It may you take longer than 15 minutes to feel God’s presence. Or, you may immediately feel angry, sad, hurt or abandoned. Maybe you can’t picture how God sees you. Maybe you have more questions than answers, more confusion than clarity. It’s okay. Don’t judge yourself. Just write it all down, and see what happens. Maybe it will change your relationship with God, maybe it won’t. Just give God a chance.
Consider sharing your experience with in the comments section below. Did it change how you see God, yourself, or others? Find fellow believers in person, and talk about your struggles with unanswered prayer, difficult relationships, envy, people-pleasing, choosing selfishness and ego over Jesus.
Remember that changing the way you see God isn’t just a one-time writing exercise or prayer! It’s an ongoing process that requires you to keep returning Jesus’ gaze—whether he’s hanging on the cross, walking away from an empty tomb, or smiling and beckoning you to come closer.
With His love,
P.S. If you think God is out to get you, read Is God Punishing You for Something You Did?
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me! Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.