Perspective is everything, isn’t it?
For example, my siblings and I were raised in Oregon, but my sisters and I have all been moved to other states because of our husband’s jobs. I moved to Alabama and my four children are as Southern as fried chicken.
My next sister moved to Alaska and her kids have eaten so much salmon that they think hamburger is a special treat.
As it turns out, rather recently both of our husband’s jobs have moved us back to Oregon- albeit three hours apart.
Last year, I was packing up my kids to visit hers and my kids were actively grumbling about the fact that it was summer (June) and it was still so cold that they had to wear sweatshirts. They can’t comprehend a world where socks are necessary after March and they aren’t happy about it.
While I was navigating the grumbling, my young niece called and said, “Auntie, don’t forget to have your kids pack their swimsuits. It’s 55 degrees and mom said we could put water in the pool.”
All of these kids were experiencing the same weather, it was just a matter of their perspective.
The Jews who worked to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem after their dispersion experienced the same disparity in perspective.
As they were working to rebuild the temple, some of them became discouraged because the new temple was so much smaller and less grand than the first.
Solomon’s temple had been an extraordinary feat of architectural beauty. Those who saw it in person had never seen anything like it either before or since. By comparison, this new temple that they were building was pitiful and the people began to wonder if completing it was even worthwhile.
God gave a message to these people through the prophet Haggai: “Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem to you like nothing in comparison?” (2:3) Yet, “’The final glory of this house will be greater than the first,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘I will provide peace in this place.’” (2:9)
God was telling them that He saw their obedience and their hearts and that was all that mattered. He didn’t need the new temple to look exactly like the first one. He just wanted them to do the work that He had put in front of them and He promised to bless it.
What a lesson for us! Coming out of these Covid shutdowns, we will likely find that our churches look different. Our Bible study groups may be different. The ministry that we are involved in may be different. We may look back and mourn what used to be. God would tell us, keep moving forward. Keep obeying me with a right heart. He will bless our work and we may find that our spiritual efficacy is even greater than it had been previously.