Ch Ch Changes (apologies to David Bowie)

They say, “The only sure things in life are death and taxes.” I have to add one more: change. That’s so huge, and I don’t know how “they” missed it.

It may be disconcerting sometimes, but nothing stays the same in this world. Get used to it. I’m sure you can quickly rattle off many things that change – babies, marriage, income, social status, our weight, weather, cityscapes, moods, homes, the news, fads, retirement, world empires, cultural taboos, and health. I’m not offering judgment on whether those changes are good or bad. Too many factors contribute to the outcomes. Even good changes are stressful.

If truth be told, those stages where we experience transition seem more frequent than the periods of stability. Thank the Lord they are often long, drawn-out periods that give us time to make decisions, monitor our progress and adjust to the circumstances.

It’s funny how some changes go unnoticed until we look back at them. The question then might be, “How’d I get here?” All of a sudden we think we’re on the wrong track. Maybe we ignored the neon warning signs flashing in our faces. Maybe it is the right track.

It seems that much of life is about learning to deal with all the phases that come our way. We Christians like to call them seasons. I recently had an e-mail from someone informing his subscribers that he and his family “are now in a season of transition in our lives.”

After this year of the pandemic, politics, and life in general, we’ve all been through quite a season of transition.

So how do we deal with our mental and spiritual adjustment to change? I’ll give you four things that can help.

GIVE THANKS

The first is to develop a sense of gratitude for everything that’s happening in your life. Not an easy task. I’ve learned to do this even if I don’t like it and even if I don’t understand it, or I don’t feel like it. Since I have committed my life to Him, I can trust Him through every occurrence. There are so many Scriptures that echo this, but I’ll give you two.

giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,   -Ephesians 5:20 

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   -1Thessalonians 5:18 

Even through gritted teeth, thank Him. Verbalizing it helps your heart begin to melt the ice so you can start to feel the warmth of gratitude. It opens the door to acceptance.

LEARN FROM IT

The second way to deal with change is to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself through the process and learn from it. You don’t want to let a good crisis go to waste. If we believe things happen for a reason and God is in control, then it may work out to be a blessing in disguise.

They (again “they”) say “experience is the best teacher.” If that were true, why do we keep making the same mistakes? It’s not the experience itself, but reflecting on it, exploring it, and learning from it. If I can use an obstacle as a stepping stone to the next phase, it will be worth it.

I think a better adage than the one I just quoted is, “nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” He uses all of it. Because of that, we can rest in His sovereignty. In fact, you might as well practice a bit of self-care. Take a deep breath, relax, and get ready for what’s next.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.   -Romans 8:28 

This verse is not meant for everyone. The qualifiers are (1) those who love God and (2) who are called according to His purpose.  That goes back to our surrender to His will and taking seriously our calling to His service. Our calling causes us to act. We are required to respond to the changes.

And how do we know how to respond? Because of the hard-earned things we’ve learned in the past. You are packing your tool kit all the time. Don’t miss the chance for a valuable lesson. You’ll need those tools when you face changes again.

FIND MEANING IN IT

The third is a bit deeper, and we may not reach a complete understanding in this life, but look for the meaning in it. We serve a God who is not random or capricious. His ways are not our ways and are far beyond our finite minds. Nothing escapes His ultimate will. Horrific things happen because of human sin, but Jesus has not only redeemed us from our sin but finally from the consequences of all sin in this world. He can even redeem our circumstances. He’s got this.

Viktor Frankl was a Jewish Psychiatrist who was placed in three different Nazi concentration camps. He suffered the loss of his parents, brother, and wife during those years. In Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) he tells how he found purpose in those hardships. I count this as one of the top ten books that influenced me.

We can strive to make sense out of the senseless. We try to make the puzzle pieces fit into the big picture. We want to know that the unthinkable is not for nothing.

It helps to have some existing foundational beliefs that can underlie any crisis that happens. They stem from the existential questions of life: Who am I? Why am I here? How do I relate to others? What’s the meaning of life? What is God like?

WITH THE LORD’S HELP

That’s why a steady diet of daily Bible reading and study is essential. That’s why a group of wise, trusted fellow sojourners around me is indispensable for support. And that’s why a continuous prayer life keeps me in relationship with One who holds all of this in His hands.

The little brother of Jesus/Yeshua – Yakov, aka Jacob, or James gives us some insight here.

2  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.           James 1: 2-5

Ask God about it. Go on, ask Him for wisdom. You may as well ask Him for patience at the same time since His answers don’t always come fast or easy. For me, as it all begins to dawn, and I catch a little glimpse of the meaning, it’s enough to carry me to the next steps.

I’ll close with one final passage of Scripture. Brother Paul suffered a lot more changes than we’ll ever know. From a prison cell, he wrote:

6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Phillippians 4: 6-7    

The peace of God is what I want. Above all, He is the Unchanging One. Immutable is the ten dollar theological word. He is a solid rock, a fortress, and an anchor in the storm. He is our peace. If, despite not understanding, I can say, “I have a peace about it,” then I’ll be okay through whatever changes come my way.

Shalom, Dottie

Acknowledgement: The two switch track photos are from Pixabay. The top feature photo is by Republica, and the second is by Luctheo.

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