I really don’t like anything that disrupts my agenda, whether it be for a particular day, a task or chasing after a goal. A disruption is defined this way: “a disturbance or problem(s) that interrupt an event, activity, or process.” In fact, as I initially completed this blog entry, I wanted to save it, clicked the wrong button and lost the entire entry. (Talk about learning to practice what you preach…even before you preached it!) Nobody I know likes being disrupted, especially when you’ve found a particular rhythm for your life.
In the Bible, the writer of the book of James speaks to these disruptions when he wrote: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow…” (James 1:2,4, NLT) Jesus himself spoke to experiencing trouble in the world when He spoke to the disciples in John 16:33 saying; “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Finally in 1 John 4:4, it says: ” He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Quite honestly, our American culture has conditioned us to chase after a life of convenience, success, instant gratification and quick results. Inevitably, when something disrupts our pursuit of that particular rhythm, the natural tendency is to try to quickly get around it, ignore it, or just get your way through it as quickly as possible. Yet, as a believer in Jesus Christ, we are compelled by Him to actually embrace the trial. In the natural, that is not an easy thing to do. Even as Spirit led individuals, allowing the disruption to complete it’s purpose in our lives, let alone trying to understand it, is not an easy task. It is possible though, and it may be exactly what God has ordered for that season of your life. That reality is sometimes difficult to accept. If we truly believe the scriptures mentioned above, and we effort to embrace them for our lives, then we are compelled to absorb the following truths: 1) God knows I am going to experience trials. 2) I can overcome the trial because Christ is greater than anything or anyone I will face in this world. 3) The trials are an opportunity to choose joy for my life. Notice that I said choose. Happiness is an emotion based on our circumstances, while joy is a choice. I choose to be joyful even when Im not happy. My joy is found in Jesus. He is my joy. I choose Him even in the absence of happiness.
Several months ago, I received a phone call from my brother. He had shared with my wife and I that his wife Janet had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The surgeons would remove the mass, only to discover that it was a cancerous Glioblastoma. Even with aggressive treatment, the prognosis was a few months to a year or so. Needless to say, my wife and I were pretty much speechless, as we allowed the news to soak in. I’ve been a man in pursuit of Jesus for over 30 years. My wife and I have had our share of trials, including those experiences in raising children and battling our own physical, relational and financial issues. Yet, this was a whole new arena. This was a whole new level of our faith being tested. Something my brother said in that initial conversation stuck in my head. He told us, “God is good and we’re trusting His will for our lives.” It’s one thing to speak truth like that, but it’s a whole different ball game to walk it out as you go through seven months of chemo and radiation therapy, only to discover that those efforts did little to better your quality of life. In fact, the reality was, that the prognosis had changed dramatically and suddenly, allowing Janet only a few weeks to enjoy her family here on earth. At age 54, she would go home to be with our Lord.
I have questions for God. I don’t understand why He allows some of the things that He does. I don’t know why my brother had to lose his best friend at such a young age. I don’t know why their kids had to lose their momma and their Grandbeauties had to lose their Gramma. “Why?” may not be the best question, but “What now God?” What if there was actually a real purpose for theses disruptions that come our way? What if God was allowing those disruptions to accomplish something deep in our souls? I am discovering that He does have purpose in everything. Yes, everything. You name it: addictions, deformity, death, identity issues, pain, suffering and crisis’ of any kind all have purpose. That purpose, I am convinced is to know God more intimately, and to glorify Him in the process, until we take our last breath. It’s not an easy process, but if you are a child of God, there is always a measure of grace provided to us with the disruption.
There is a promise in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” That’s the goal. That the power of Christ may rest upon us, and in that “resting,” others take notice of that grace, and are moved by it. They will be moved, wanting to know why you’re able to walk through your particular circumstances with grace and dignity, and not be shaking your fist at God, but rather lifting your hands up to Him in honor and glorifying His name. I remember standing next to my dads casket at his funeral, after he had taken his own life at age 62. It was not a happy experience, yet I had a joy within me because I knew Christ was with me. He was very near to me and He was glorified at that funeral. Many were moved during the service and spoke to me afterward sharing things like, ” I’ve never been to a funeral like that.” One person said, “You’ve F*#@ed up my life and given me a lot to think about.” A measure of grace was given to me for those moments, and these “worldly people” were meeting a divine presence, perhaps for the first time.
Joy. Dignity. Glorifying God. My brother and his family are modeling it. God’s grace is resting upon them as they grieve their loss. Conversations about their faith are taking place. Brothers and sisters in Christ are being encouraged as we watch this family navigate these difficult circumstances, and we are all being strengthened. How do we “count it all joy” as James talked about? It’s when we find God in our most utter moments of weakness and frailty. He becomes our joy. When we get stripped down, and we feel great loss, He steps in and becomes our gain. It’s Him whom we discover more of. He is our joy. He is our overcomer. He is greater than anything we will ever face. His presence and His comfort is precious. He becomes our everything.
A long time ago, Janet mentioned to my wife and I that we had influenced her and my brother to draw closer to God, into a more personal relationship with Him. I was blessed by that. But I can tell you, that watching my brother and his wife, and their faith in action has moved many, encouraging us to draw closer to God’s heart and grabbing hold of more of His grace. He is becoming more precious. What if that is all that He has purposed? Then I say, “Amen”. Bless you Janet. See you soon sister.