The fact that times of upheaval have been visited on the earth frequently during the long story of our planet is small consolation to those destined to live in the midst of such upheavals. Nevertheless, such seasons as these come. Furthermore, they serve as the proving grounds for what we call faith. When there is none, we quake and shake with fear and angst and tend to sink to the lowest moral common denominator.
Terrorist attacks and wars, hurricanes and tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, famine and disease, all reflect the fragility of the world around us.
It is in no way unreasonable for you to wonder about how to respond to the dynamic of fluidity in the world. Our circumstances are frail, our plans and goals are brittle, and our hopes and dreams are like mists that disappear into nothingness when the winds of calamity blast their way through life.
On the other hand, when the proving ground of upheaval finds the salt of genuine faith being worked into the mix, not only are lives transformed by the presence of God within His people, but the whole of society is transformed as well! “What gives him such strength anyway?” might be asked of one believer in a difficult situation. “Why didn’t she just take the money and run? No one was watching,” might be the observation of another.
Of course, the answer is quite simple… so simple that our world likes to turn up its sophisticated nose at it. The believer has an “out-of-worldly” strength to draw from and has an everlasting hope to stand upon.
“…For I know Whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12b ESV).
Troubles and trials, anger and anxieties, frustrations and fears are the garden spots in which we must reap the harvest of what we’ve really sown in faith. “Do I REALLY believe God’s promises from His Word for my life?” “Am I REALLY convinced that He is able to guard the investment of my life in Him no matter what happens in the world?” Maybe what we find we have isn’t a garden spot so much as a weed patch.
For instance, when facing pain and difficulty, do we allow those circumstances to become justification for choosing to do wrong? Do you recall the Argentina factory worker riots in April 2003? Or the LA riots in April 1992? Demonstrations against injustice and oppression were not wrong in either case. What WAS wrong, however, was the reckless hurting of innocent people and the exploitation of the situations to steal. People used their anger over being victimized to victimize others. These are clearly extreme examples, but in a more subtle way, we do the same sorts of things if and when we rationalize doing something wrong based on our circumstances. Even now, when we allow their political affiliations to overthrow basic humanity, we have grossly given ourselves over to worldly priorities for life and patterns of behavior which only slander the name of God and spoil our own peace and joy.
Of course, most people, most of the time, really don’t intend any harm in their choices -even when choosing selfishly. It’s just that when we fail to remember God’s expectations for how we live or forget that His promises are meant for our good as well as His glory, we do the harm of unplugging ourselves from abiding in a vital relationship with Christ and will fall and fail when calamity comes or tragedy strikes.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. God has made a way for us to start over when nature barrels down upon us with unimaginable destruction. He has made a way for our spirits to remain strong even though illness may seep into our very bones with fiery fingers of pain. He has made a way for His people to muster up courage in the face of oppression and injustice. He has even made a way for His people to embrace the hope that they have in Christ Jesus when their beloved Christian leaders and heroes are called home to heaven. Whatever the need, He has made a way. And whatever we do, let us not neglect the only sure hope that we have… that of Christ Jesus!
“Do not be deceived God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:7-9 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org).