“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
It’s a curious thing how in just a matter of moments, life events can shift quickly and take us an unexpected direction. Our decisions may surprise us with unforeseen twists and turns. Events occurring around us may startle us and demand unplanned actions, taking us down roads in life that are filled with sharp turns and bumpy terrain. Tragedies like a large boulder may drop in our life path, paralyzing us emotionally, making life difficult to manage even the simplest of tasks.
For example: the recent pandemic is one unwelcome disturbance that has created havoc in everyone’s life. It has required us to make major adjustments in how we live; and it has instilled fear in many people, especially the most physically vulnerable. The loss of loved ones near and dear to us inflicts our emotional and physical selves with grief and emptiness, forcing us to maneuver through daily living in radically new ways. Unexpected illness befalls some people necessitating treatments and lifestyle changes, shaking up what has been common and comfortable in one’s life. Even the willingly made decision to move (as I am learning and experiencing) produces unexpected anxiety, stress and frustration to navigate each day.
All of us have or will at some point in time experience one or all of these kinds of shifts in life or something similar to these. Uncertainty, challenges and heartbreak are all a part of life. God never promised us that our lives would somehow avoid these things; even if we are faithful. However, Jesus teaches us through his words and through his witness of dealing with his own vulnerability with hardships, that we can persevere, rise above and even conquer the grip of life’s unexpected and unwelcome occurrences hold on us.
Jesus did this by turning his focus away from distractions and worries infringing on his emotional self, to caring for and serving the needs of others. Jesus won the battle by forgiving perpetrators threatening his integrity and life. Jesus surrounded himself with a community of friends also journeying on the twisty-turning road of faithfulness to God. Jesus worshiped God daily. Jesus never denied his need for God…turning to God in prayer; and even in his darkest hour, crying out with all honesty, his feelings of abandonment by God. We too can persevere and overcome the very things that life throws at us when we least expect or want it by following Jesus’ example of serving others, forgiving our enemies, actively participating in a community of believers like our church family at HCOB, worshiping God even when we do not feel like it, praying to God with all honesty about our burdens and with openness to God’s intervention according to his will in our lives.
And, don’t forget, Jesus’ promise that while facing our adversities, we are never alone. Like him, hold on to the strong hand of God. Jesus assures and promises us that the unexpected and unwanted challenges that arise in our lives do not have the last word in determining the outcome of our journey in life; at least not when we have the power of God on our side.