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When Life Takes You Off Guard
 

For the Week of August 24, 2015
by Rubel Shelly

Life has a habit of taking us by surprise. Events catch us off guard and send us reeling. Accident, injury, family stress, divorce, job transfer, layoff – these are some of the high-stress events that can shake one’s poise.

The danger is that these things can send people into panic mode. She makes some totally irresponsible statement. He acts without thinking. Harm is done to relationships that can never be undone.

The same events can shake our theological footing. Long-resolved doubts resurface. She withdraws from Christian friends and stops attending church. He begins to blame God for what is happening in his life.

Am I just imagining that people react to life’s sneak attacks in these ways? Haven’t you seen it too? Is some form of it going on with you right now?

Imagine that your scared-for-his-life husband offered you as a sexual playmate to the man he feared, that you were a teenager forced to spend years in jail because of someone’s lie about you, that all your children have been killed in the same horrible storm, or that your racial identity caused some people to deny you your civil rights. These “hypothetical” episodes are the biblical stories of Sarah, Joseph, Job, and Paul.

The people whose life stories we know from the Bible are not figures in stained-glass windows. They were real flesh-and-blood people like you and me. They emerged from their crisis situations in victory mode. Yet they lost precious things and certainly bore scars from what had happened to them.

If we could look into heaven at those bitter junctures of life, though, our hearts would be reassured. Looking into God’s face, we would discover there is no sweat on his upper lip. Even if we are shocked and disoriented, he is not. Oh, his lip might be quivering with compassion for our pain, but he is sovereign over his universe. Nothing catches him by surprise, and he knows precisely how to get his wounded children through their most harrowing life crises.

The sounds of a howling mob, a whip ripping into bare flesh, and a hammer driving nails into hands and feet were overwhelming sounds – until the tomb was found empty. The same power that raised him then sustains us now.

So, when you feel you are about to lose it, visualize God’s upper lip. Trust his promises. Know you are not alone. Wait patiently for the victory.



 

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