(A guest post from my friend, Jeff Arnold)

My self-diagnosis has never been confirmed officially, but the discomfort I experience when confined to tight spaces is unmistakable.

openingThe symptoms routinely arrive immediately. My stomach anxiously somersaults, I sweat profusely and any sense of peace I once felt suddenly eludes me. It’s not a fun place to be.

Admittedly, I have found myself residing in this state of emotional claustrophobia for a while now. A season of wandering has left me surrounded by a proverbial forest full of daunting trees that represent uncertainty, doubt, frustration and fear.

I’ve discovered it’s easy to get lost in this dark space. To feel helpless and alone. To feel like no matter how loudly I scream — to others or God — my voice is seemingly swallowed up by the towering nature of that which surrounds me. And with no clear vision to guide me, I sense there is no way out.

Yet, just as panic sets in, I realize something. Feeling surrounded isn’t all bad if we are willing to adjust the lens through which we view life, especially in time of despair. Consider Hebrews 12:1, which reads, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Imagine how our perspective changes if we chose to view the surroundings that we allow to envelope us in a different light. Perhaps, life’s circumstances don’t change. But if we were to persistently focus on the witnesses Christ has surrounded us with rather than on the enemy’s hindrances that keep us from running the race God has mapped out, wouldn’t working our way out of the darkness and toward the light-filled intended destination be much easier?