Life happens. But God knows, and you can be ready.
Over the last six weeks, we learned my wife had cancer, our house was hit by lightning and my mom passed away. All of that shortly after starting a new job and with a major project at our house underway.
Now before you pull out the violins or start the pity party on our behalf, you need to know this: Though the roller coaster has been running in our lives since mid-April, we haven’t wavered in our faith and the words “Woe is us!” have never left our lips.
Life happens. And it often happens suddenly and without notice. Those are the times we need the most grace, the most understanding, the most peace and the most of God.
There’s a saying in Christendom: God will never put on you more than you can handle. Sounds good, but actually, it isn’t in the Bible and I’m not sure how accurate it is. Isn’t the truth of scripture that God does allow much to be put on us that we get to a point where we rely completely on Him? It has nothing to do with what we can handle, but what God can do, doesn’t it?
If you follow a few scriptures, it’s obvious that the good and the bad — the righteous and the unrighteous — will encounter trials and tribulations.
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt. 5:45 NIV).
And, more to my point: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19 NASB).
Then, if you’re concerned about those afflictions, Psalm 37 begins with the admonition “Do not fret…” and follows with directives to “trust”, “dwell”, “enjoy”, “delight” and “commit”. Further down, the psalmist encourages us to “be still”, “wait patiently” and again, “don’t fret.”
Then, in verse 25, after David has set the conditions, he establishes the foundation for this reminder: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” (Psalm 37:25 ESV)
Make no mistake, all of the situations since April 22 have been life-changing for us. Indeed, there have been times that we have wondered if we were on the right track. Yes, situations have stopped us in our tracks, altered our perspective on life and caused us to pause to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.”. (2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV).
Circumstances change our course and often redirect our lives. We are often like a river. The mighty Mississippi hasn’t always followed the same path. The Big Red River once flowed along different banks. So it is with us. God directs our paths as we allow Him.
“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1 NASB).
Now, don’t get me wrong. Major surgeries, cancer diagnoses, the death of close friends and family, so-called acts of God and other major events in your life will absolutely feel like a sucker punch to the gut. But we don’t get to choose what happens to us and we certainly don’t get to choose when they happen.
Still, we can’t wait for those unexpected events to bring us to a grinding halt, we must be prepared. And, that preparation is not about leadership, finances, public speaking, taking charge or any of the other things we can learn about our jobs, churches or life in general.
It’s about knowing God, knowing where to find the peace and understanding whose you are. It’s not about what you know, but about Who you know.
When we learned Elizabeth had a peach-size tumor on her kidney and then four days later the kidney was removed, I was prepared for her to be distraught, anxious or even disillusioned. I was prepared to be strong for her, to encourage her, to keep her mind positive. But I learned very quickly that she was at perfect, absolute peace.
She was prepared by many mornings with her devotionals, reading, journaling and spending time with God. She was a rock, virtually immovable by the diagnoses, possible findings from the surgery and ultimate prognosis from the doctors.
Honestly, you can’t possibly be completely and totally prepared for all the challenges of life. You will have curve balls hurled at you, you will find detours along the way and you will encounter dead ends.
But great peace is preceded by great preparation. And, then, you leave the rest to God. As I’ve written before, God is at work in the heavenlies on your behalf. When tragedy, trials and tribulations approach, we don’t have to wake up God.
He already knew, He already planned for it, He already had the answer waiting.
Here’s a quick rundown on how you can be ready for the real challenges and difficulties of life.
- Get close to God. If you know Him, get to know Him better. If you don’t know Him, meet Him today and build that relationship.
- Find those close friends who will be closer than a brother. You don’t need an Army, only a few devoted friends you can count on when the going gets tough.
- Know this: It’s not about you. Help others. Be there when others need you, when they need a friend.
- Stay quiet. When tragedy strikes, we tend to want to speak out and lash out. It’s probably time to listen, but more importantly to hear.
Life happens, most of the time it’s unexpected. The way we respond will determine our future. And our preparation and preparedness will determine how we respond.
Think about it.