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Trouble’s Diverging Path

October 1, 2014

disasterOur society has been set up for failure.  We have a lifestyle of expectancy.  We feel entitled to have our needs met, desires satisfied, and all at our beck and call.  If someone won’t give it to us, we’ll take it.  Look around and it’s the mindset you see everywhere.  It’s not just an American thing, but a global dissatisfaction with life and a demand for better without personal cost or responsibility.  And apart from the intervening grace of God in our lives, we’re destined for failure and disappointment.

I’m struck by two different mindsets of people.  The first is our common reply from mankind — even Christians.  It’s one of screaming how things are unfair.  People spend ungodly amounts of time clawing, kicking, and demanding we get “our fair share” or the all-encompassing “we want what we have coming!”  A jaded, cynical, self-absorbed, and arrogant lot we’ve become.  In all areas and economic levels you see theft common place because it isn’t enough just to envy our neighbor’s house, car, and spouse, but somehow we find an excuse just to take it.  You can read about it in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, where looters (ironically mostly from out-of-town) come in and show their true character by stealing and continuing to destroy the economy in a lower economic region. It can be found with the rich, building Ponzi schemes to swipe millions of dollars and destroy people’s lifetime savings for their own ill-gotten gain.  And everywhere in between those two extremes are people who have thrown values and morals to the wind for their own greed and desire.  Everyone does what is right in his own eyes all because of this societal-disillusioned-state-of-mind that says, “I deserve [fill in the blank]!”

Then there is this other mindset.  A classic example is from the hymn writer, Horatio Spafford, a successful attorney from the mid 1800s who used his money to invest in property all around Chicago.

Spafford and his wife lost a son in 1870 to scarlet fever.  The next year the Chicago lawyer lost his fortunes in the great Chicago fire of 1871.  Then 1873 he sent his wife and four daughters ahead to Europe where he planned to join them after he had concluded some work.  He received word the ship they traveled on collided with another and sunk quickly.  A telegram came saying only his wife survived.  Upon passing the spot where his daughters had drown, he wrote these famous words:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It’s one of my favorite hymns.  It speaks so eloquently to how we should respond when faced with crisis in our lives.  It’s not an easy thing to do and requires a heart that is completely submitted [read: TRUSTS] God’s ability to keep us in His hand.  This is true even when we don’t understand the calamities in our lives.  Remember the parable of the houses built on the rock and on the sand.  The storms came and hit both houses.   Often we have this faulty thinking that we’re not going to face adversity after coming to Christ.

That’s not to minimize the pain or suffering.  I think that’s the purpose of this passage:

Romans 12:15 — Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

As the Lord’s return nears, things will continue to spiral violently out of control.  All around you see it: atrocities in the name of religion, disastrous storms, earthquakes, famines, wars all around the globe.  It’s all too clear that our hearts, even as Christians, are often tied too tightly to this world and things it can provide instead of living for eternity.  When will we wake up to the truth this world is not our home?  The temporary blip of our existence here on earth is just that, a blip.  With eyes fixed on what is to come, we need to change our perspective and our reaction to those things that so easily knock us down.

I’m not saying to be so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good, but rather, listen closely to the voice of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the chaos that encompasses our life.  Trust Him who saved you that He is able to keep you.  And if things don’t look like it at the moment, remember this place is temporary, but eternity is forever.  We’re just passing through from here to there.

To follow up for a moment on the life of Spafford, he and his wife went on to have other children and surrendered their lives to live and serve the poor in Jerusalem a half century before Israel was granted statehood in 1948.  The Spaffords didn’t always understand why things happened the way they did, but they never lost their deep abiding faith in the One who holds all things in His hand and has the unique ability to bring beauty from ashes.

— Pastor Rick

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