There is peace to be found in the chaos
Sometimes, in the business of life, it is all so easy to be overwhelmed by the circumstances of life. It’s not so bad sometimes; but when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, it is so easy to spin on the problems.
Sometimes, circumstances can be daunting; people can be truly annoying and difficult to deal with. We, as Christians, are to be about our Father’s business; but we also have our own agendas and interests. Not many of us live a life where we can say, “And you should follow me, just as I follow Christ.” And so it is natural that there will be conflict in this world.
But if we are honest with ourselves, much of our trouble and discontentment in life comes out of our cares and our worries – concerns about the future, or how we will be received by others. We worry at times about our health and our families. We worry about our future and how we will provide for ourselves when we are old and gray. We worry about what this world will be like for the future of our children.
We know in our heads that we are to trust God in all things.
But actually doing it is not always so easy.
When Jesus was meeting with his disciples in the upper room, shortly before his crucifixion, he said to his disciples, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” Now when we are struggling with our overwhelming circumstances, we could be tempted to blow off this kind of suggestion by a well-meaning friend. But in the context, we need to remember that Jesus was saying this to comfort the disciples, even as he himself was aware that he was headed for the cross. Though you may be tempted to discount words like this from a friend because you think they don’t know how you feel, remember Jesus spoke this while he was under a cloud of a very difficult season in his life.
Most people are familiar with the “Serenity Prayer,” a prayer authored by Reinhold Niebuhr:
O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed,
The courage to change what can be changed,
and the wisdom to know the one from the other.
In our more sober moments, this makes sense to us. Sometimes, in our moments of extreme frustration, we might be tempted to utter a different variation of that prayer:
O God, give me the serenity to accept what cannot be changed,
The courage to change what can be changed,
and the wisdom to know where to hide the bodies of the people I have to kill because they tick me off.
But the real power behind the prayer is the understanding that can be found in the complete prayer…
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
There are days that will be good; enjoy them. There will be days that will be full of woe. Do not despise them, or the circumstances that bring the feelings. Recognize in these moments that God is not to be blamed; He is to be trusted as He walks with you through the storm. As you praise Him through the storm, he “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them..”
The circumstances might be consequences of your own making – perhaps they come because you didn’t listen to him when he warned you not to get into a situation. They may be consequences of someone else’s making. When David sent Uriah into battle and told his men to leave Uriah on the battlefield all alone (2nd Samuel, chapter 11) it seems reasonable that Uriah might well have wondered if God truly loved him, leaving him there to be abandoned. And sometimes, time and chance happen to us all. When a tsunami hits, the righteous and the unrighteous are all hit by the wave.
Beyond a point, there is paralysis in analysis. When your circumstances are overwhelming, praise Him in the storm. Ask Him to show you if there is something you need to do differently, or if you need merely to stand steadfast, and like Moses said before the parting of the sea, “behold the salvation of the Lord.” (Exodus 14:13-14) God gives wisdom to all who ask of him and are not double-minded. (James 1)
Our God inhabits the praises of His people. And when He delights to manifest His presence to you as you reach out to him in praise, the circumstances fade in the glory of the presence of the Lord.
When our circumstances seem to big to us, we need to understand that our circumstances are not so big at all; we merely need to praise our God until He shows Himself so much larger than the circumstances.