What It Means to Look to Jesus & How It Helps Us In Any Circumstance

Jana Carlson

Jana Carlson

Focusing on Jesus helps us endure overwhelming circumstances & live victoriously. But how? What does it mean to "look to Jesus" & fix our eyes on Him?

What does it mean to “fix your eyes on Jesus”? How do we practically live out “looking to Jesus”? And why are we encouraged to turn our eyes upon Jesus? How does focusing on Jesus help us endure difficult circumstances?

I referred to Hebrews 12:1-3 in You Can’t Live A Victorious Christian Life Alone. In this post, I’d like to focus on a different phrase from the same passage.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (emphasis mine)

Looking to Jesus is what we need to do when we’re:

  • struggling in our faith,
  • heavily burdened,
  • fighting against temptation,
  • enduring difficulties and trials that are an inevitable part of the Christian life

No matter what circumstance we’re facing, keeping our eyes on Jesus is one thing we can be sure is good and right and helpful.

One of my favorite hymns says it so well:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Helen Howarth Lemmel

Jesus Gives Us Victory In Our Circumstances

When we’re looking to Jesus, we’re not looking at our circumstances. Do not mistake this for ignoring reality. To truly see Jesus is to recognize who He is in your current circumstances.

What does this look like in real life?

Do you ever feel defeated? Do you ever feel discouraged by corrupt leaders, political turmoil, spiritual warfare? I sure do! But when we focus on Jesus’ power instead of the circumstances causing us to feel powerless, we remind ourselves that His power is greater than the power of the enemy or the power of our government or the power of anyone or anything else on earth. (1 John 4:4) We’re more likely to endure when we know we’re on the right team!

Our pastor often reminds us that “We don’t fight for victory; we fight from victory.Colossians 2:15 reminds us that Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame” and that He “triumphed over them“. Jesus has won the victory.

The Power of Perspective

Later in Colossians 3:1-4 we’re taught a little more about what life looks like when we’re focused on Jesus and living a life from victory:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus involves having an “eternal mindset”. This gives us the proper perspective in our present situation.

Living “in light of eternity” means we’re continually mindful of what we’re ultimately anticipating, what this life is all about. Actually, who this life is all about! Compared to Jesus, compared to what we have to look forward to, our present situation doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming.

Even when we’re facing insurmountable challenges, keeping the proper perspective and remembering our place in the grand scheme of things is helpful. There’s a much bigger picture, a far greater purpose and plan at work than our own.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 describes this perfectly:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient [temporal], but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Looking Up Protects Us

I remember my Dad teaching me to drive. He constantly reminded me to look ahead, focus on where I want to go. Don’t look directly in front of the car. If I look too close in front of me, I don’t have enough time to react to dangers or changes on the road.

It’s a good illustration for the Christian life. When I’m so focused on the immediate situation I’m in, I tend to react rather than rest in Jesus. I panic and swerve and try to recover. Usually, I fumble and fail and make things worse. It’s stressful – not only for me, but for those around me!

But when I look to Jesus, I see who He is in my circumstances. Rather than focusing on myself or what’s right in front of me, I get an eternal perspective and remember the big picture. This is about more than me. It’s about Him. And He is faithful. He is good. He is in control. He can handle this!

How Great Is Our God

We sometimes need to be reminded of how big God is. We don’t have to know all the answers. We don’t need to be strong enough or smart enough or capable enough to fix everything. We need to remember who our Heavenly Father really is and why we can trust Him.

In Isaiah 55:8-9, God reminds us of His sovereign omniscience.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways
And my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Looking to Jesus humbles us (which is a good thing) and puts us in a position of willingness to trust Him and follow Him, to submit to Him. Looking to Him and focusing on who He is enables us to step into His yoke and ultimately to rest (Matthew 11:29-30).

His Strength is Perfect

Isaiah 40:28-31 is such an incredible encouragement to those who are exhausted and weary of the struggle.

“The Lord is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
And to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
And young men shall fall exhausted;
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
They shall run and not be weary;
They shall walk and not faint.”

Look to Jesus. Don’t become so absorbed in your own weariness and circumstances that you forget who He is, what He’s done, what He can and will do.

When you feel too weary and weak to even think about Him, too mentally and emotionally exhausted to even know how to pray, that’s when you realize what a blessing it is to have His Word – whether physically in front of you as the Bible in your lap, or just the gift of having memorized even one treasure of Scripture.

Live It Out

  • Pick a verse or passage of Scripture to focus on to renew your mind and keep you focused on Jesus. Memorize it. (There are so many promises of God in His Word. These might be a good place to start.) Think On These Things might be helpful.
  • What are some ways Jesus has revealed Himself to you โ€“ either recently or a long time ago? Spend some time remembering His work in your life and actually thanking Him for it. Consider starting a Stones of Remembrance journal.
  • Meditate on the names of God to remind yourself of who He is.
  • Spend some time in worship. Put on some worship music. Set aside the heaviness of your life and just focus on giving the Lord the praise that’s due Him. We were created for worship and there is something amazing that happens in our hearts when we give ourselves to that discipline.
  • This post from Kayse is a wonderful read that perfectly demonstrates this Truth. Take the time to look it over.

20 Responses

  1. I love the example of Peter walking on the water. When he kept his eyes on Jesus even in the middle of the storm he was able to have victory but once Peter took his eyes off of Jesus he felt like he was drowning. When we keep our eyes on Jesus we can overcome whatever circumstance we are going through. Love this post! Thanks for sharing

    1. Oftentimes we try to be so proactive that we get ahead of Jesus and make our situation worse. I love how you used a driving lesson to communicate that fact. Jesus is our daily bread so He will give us what we need to today. We have to trust that He will do the same thing tomorrow. Great insight.

      1. I like your insight here, Brandi… We equate being proactive with wisdom, and yet, there’s only so much we can do in our humanity. So much is still far beyond our control, no matter how prepared we think we are. Trust in Jesus really is the key. He is the only sure foundation, the only certainty on which to base our hope.

  2. My bible verse for this year has been “All is Well” – and even though in the natural it was BIG CHALLENGES, I kept my eyes on Him. When fear crept in, I’d look to our Father – and not take my eyes off Him. It changes everything! It changes me inside – and the circumstances outside! What good soul food you fed us today! Thank you the encouragement!

    1. The “peace that passes all understanding” is a peace the makes no sense in the natural, in our circumstances. Our reality can be chaos, but our souls can be at rest when we’re focused on the One Who holds it all in the palm of His hand. An incredible, supernatural Truth. So glad you were encouraged!

  3. What a power-packed, truth-infused post!! So much goodness and hope I had to read through it again. I love the old hymn that calls us to fix our eyes upon Jesus – what great advice. I know my trials often seem more than light and momentary, but when I look back over my life and how God has showed up and been faithful, I see that I have raised many Ebenezers to His faithfulness. Seeing that fixing my focus in the past helped, it encourages me to to it today. Great post!
    Bev xx

    1. Bev, you have encouraged ME tremendously with your comment! I love that phrase – “raised many Ebenezers”. I just read that passage in Scripture a few weeks ago and it reminded me again the importance of taking time to secure those memories for ourselves to bolster our faith in coming trials. God is faithful.

  4. Yes, I agree with Bev, above, that this is a power-packed truth-infused post! The kind of posts I prefer to read…so spot on!
    This statement, “When weโ€™re looking to Jesus, weโ€™re not looking at our circumstances. Do not mistake this for ignoring reality. To truly see Jesus is to recognize who He is in your current circumstances.” is so true. Especially the “Do not mistake this for ignoring reality.” Our reality needs to be always looking to Jesus in all circumstances for Him to walk us through them. Complete trust in God for everything that comes our way. Great post, keep it up!

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Cindy. Yes, that “ignoring reality” phrase comes from a season in my early years where I was taught that faith doesn’t acknowledge the tough stuff. I’m so grateful to the Lord for revealing that teaching as a lie and showing me the freedom that comes from the Truth, from knowing Who God is and who we are in Him.

  5. I know that in my circumstances in a few different areas there are moments that feel heavy. I think “How do people that don’t have Christ as their strength, hope, peace, etc, do the hard places in life?” I will say that and then I’m not only saddened for the emptiness they must experience but also I’m SO thankful that I have God as my strength. I attempted living life without following God and that was miserable! This is filled with truths every person needs because essentially it’s about needing Christ!

    1. Oh, I hear you, April! I find myself saying that so often… How would we do this without Christ? How do people survive this without Jesus? I honestly don’t know and my heart is burdened for those who suffer without Him. What a gift, what a privilege, what a mercy that He drew us to Himself!

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