“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance of what we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1
Each and every circumstance in our lives can impact our perspective on life and how we react to a situation. If we are not grounded in our faith, it can feel like we are being tossed about by the wind, never being able to feel like we are on solid ground – never quite feeling at peace. (See Ephesians 4:14)
Sometimes circumstances are within our control because we each have choices to make everyday that affect our circumstances. If we choose risky behavior then we should expect consequences that bring about difficult circumstances. If we choose to walk a path that avoids risky behavior, we are more apt to avoid difficult circumstances.
But what about the times that circumstances are beyond our control or influence. What do we do when circumstances involve death, destruction or despair – the death of a loved one, the loss of our home, the loss of a job or a severe medical diagnosis? We did not expect it. We don’t understand it. We wish it were not so. What do we do then?
We may angrily or tearfully ask God, “What ARE you doing? We may ask Him to take it away or change the circumstance. Or, we may not ask anything because we don’t even think about God. We are so engrossed in our own sorrow or anger that we can’t even think. We may turn to behavior that blocks our despair – alcohol, drugs or behavior that numbs the mind and helps us escape into nothingness.
So what are the alternatives to all of the above responses? What is helpful in these types of circumstances?
It is helpful to turn to God, first – To seek God in prayer – To trust in His power – To be prepared for a miracle of His making, not our own. So practically speaking this means that we need to take time to be in prayer, meditation and contemplation. Do not rush a response – “wait upon the Lord”. If our “gut” is saying something, we need to take time to make sure that our response is prompted by the Holy Spirit. If we have developed a “habit” of taking time with God, we are move likely to walk with Him through the circumstance instead of being tossed about in the circumstance.
It is helpful to be grounded in our faith – to have weathered other storms that have made us stronger, less wind tossed, more able to have faith that God is in control and we are not. More faith that the plan we had may not be the best plan and He always has a plan that is good for us. Faith that allows us to trust that God’s glory will be revealed in His way and in His time – not ours. So practically speaking this means that we need to prepare for the next life challenging circumstance by deepening our faith NOW. We can deepen our faith in God and our relationships with others by taking time to get in the habit of reading scripture, praying, immersing ourselves in a bible study, or attending church services.
It is helpful to have people in our lives who know Jesus – who are calm and reassuring, who walk the journey with us and provide support. This is when an extended church family “circles the wagons” providing practical assistance, prayer support, and most of all – love. When we don’t seem to have faith, it helps to be around people who do – people who shoulder our burden. So practically speaking it helps to have a church family NOW. If you don’t have one, ask someone you know and trust where they go to church. Tag along with them or check out the church closest to your home.
It is helpful to guard ourselves against godless chatter with others and extended questioning of why the circumstance occurred. So practically speaking, we can prolong a crisis by dwelling in the crisis instead of moving through it by seeking God. This does not mean we can’t confide in a close friend who is faith-filled. However, allowing ourselves to continually complain, analyze, criticize, and gossip does not help in any crisis. If we are the ones providing comfort to someone in crisis, remember not to prolong their crisis by jumping into the “pit” with them – but instead listen, listen, listen and encourage them to climb out of the “pit”.
It is helpful to not “check out” of the situation. Choosing “numbing” behavior will cloud our minds, block our relationships with others and most of all prevent us from hearing God. So practically speaking, it is good to control that behavior now, before a crisis hits so that such behavior is easier to avoid.
It is helpful to recognize God’s response to our cries for help. In times of crisis, when we have asked for God’s help, we need to learn to receive it. Many of us are great at helping others, but not so good at receiving help. So practically speaking, this means we need to prayerfully consider other people’s offers of help. A refusal to receive God’s Blessing is an affront against God and will prolong the process of recovery. Such a refusal of God’s Blessings is a roadblock to deepening our Faith. It prevents us from becoming the humble soul God wants in His Kingdom.
It is helpful to remember that God is God and we are not. Sometimes we do not understand and may never understand in this lifetime why God allowed something to happen. Not all things that happen are “caused” by God but God allows all things to happen. Could He have stopped something from happening – Yes. God could have stopped Christ from going to the Cross, but He didn’t because God knew it was the way to our salvation. So practically speaking, when we do not understand the “why” of a circumstance, “put a pin in it” and add it to your list of things you are going to ask when you get to heaven.
My prayer for us this week, is that we choose to approach our circumstances in a new way that deepens our faith and brings Glory to God. AMEN.