I think all of us would agree that the world is a crazy place these days. Between the natural disasters that hit Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and Mexico (just to name a few), to the mass shootings and constant political turmoil pasted all over the news on a daily basis, we have all become pretty weary of the constant change.
Even when we can anticipate that change is coming, like the inevitable transition of summer to fall and fall to winter, it still seems to put us in a funk, even though we've experienced these changes many times before.
Think of the world we live in. We have every type of insurance possible to prepare ourselves for every conceivable problem. Health insurance, car insurance, renters insurance, homeowners’ insurance, 401K's and the list goes on. As people, we are masters at trying to prepare ourselves for the inevitable and unpredictable.
Anticipated or not, change is uncomfortable because it invites us (unsolicited) into the unknown where we can't predict the outcome. We are not in control, and for all of us in varying degrees that prospect is just terrifying.
Although there are many circumstances we cannot predict or control, we can choose the lens by which we view our lives and the world around us. In those difficult moments or seasons of change where we don't know what's happening, and we don't know where things are leading, we do have choices. We may not have chosen our situation but we have the power to choose our perspective--and don't we all know that perspective is everything.
Think of Jesus. Here He is dying on a cross looking like a complete and total failure. And to make matters worse, He claimed to be the Son of God but here He is dying a criminal's death.
Can you imagine His disciples? Or those who had witnessed His miracles, or been benefactors of His power? They had heard his bold declarations, but now his words seemed to ring hollow as they watched him die in weakness and shame.
But what was ACTUALLY happening here? Think of this verse in Hebrews 12:2.
"Because of the JOY awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne."
Jesus never lost his heavenly perspective. He knew that JOY was the unlikely and unexpected fruit of pain. He knew that the cross wasn't his defeat but it was sin's defeat, the grave's defeat, death's defeat, and praise God, the devil's defeat.
What may appear to be a complete and utter defeat in our lives, if entrusted into God's faithful hands, can be transformed into our most victorious moments. And these are not just pretty platitudes, this is the life Christ promised us--a life that confounds our natural wisdom and defies the odds that appear to be stacked against us.
So the question remains, what do we do when we are propelled into change, whether it’s good or bad, expected or not?
Usually when we experience change that is either painful, confusing, or just plain uncomfortable, we instantly start looking for a way out. And sad to say for most of us if we can't find a way of escape we just revert to our 3-year-old selves and start having an adult version of a temper tantrum.
But what would happen if instead of having a melt down in the middle of the dairy aisle at the grocery store, we rather choose to hit the pause button and take a deep breathe before reacting?
By doing something so simple such as pausing and breathing, we could determine the trajectory and quality of our proceeding thoughts, emotions, and course of action. And instead of feeling helpless we would be strengthened to reorient ourselves to the deeper issue and greater reality behind our circumstances.
If we can buy ourselves enough time by pausing and breathing through the discomfort, we can get quiet enough to hear from God. I Peter 1:6 says, "Be truly glad, there is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.”
Peter presents us with the same challenge Jesus faced--to never lose our confidence that JOY is waiting on the other side of our pain. It's this joyous perspective that will give us the strength to endure the difficulty of our current circumstances.
As I said before, Jesus knew that joy was the unlikely fruit of the cross. What is the unlikely fruit of your situation?
Look for God to show up in unprecedented ways. If you're a business owner or a leader at your church and you feel stuck and overwhelmed, look for God to give you innovative solutions and wisdom. If you're a parent and your children are out of control and you don't know how to reach them, look for God to reach your children's hearts in miraculous ways.
If you've lost a loved one or lost a job, if you've been married for 30 years, or are still waiting for God to bring you a spouse...look for God. The promise given to us in Matthew 7:7 is, "ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you, seek and keep on seeking and you will find, and knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.”
Barbara Hill is an East coast girl who currently lives in Chicago working as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. She is a worship leader, freedom fighter, blogger, and is preparing to move to Nashville in the Spring to continue her work as a Christian counselor. Connect with her on her blog.