When the world turns upside down
by Donald Warriner, Captain Corps Officer, LEWISTON, IDAHO –
Our entire world can be turned upside down in just a few moments’ time. Ask any new widow or widower—or anyone who has gotten an adverse medical report from their doctor—or a young athlete who has experienced a devastating injury. Life can be cruel to us, and it can happen in a few breathtaking moments. Things we have taken for granted—a happy old age with our spouse, a comfortable retirement, the ability to run and jump and do things we enjoy—could be ripped away from us in a second. You never know when life may suddenly change.
Listen to these words from our Lord: as he came out of the temple one day, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (NRSV)
He was talking about a specific historical event, but he could have been talking about our lives. What do we do when our world is suddenly ripped apart? What do we do when the stones of our physical, intellectual and emotional temples come tumbling down? First of all, we fall back on our faith. We reach out in the dark to the steady hand of God. You expected me to say that, but that is where we must begin. It is amazing how many people have reported that a time of crisis was one of the most important times in their lives because it was then they learned to trust God.
But there is a second step that is essential in times of great personal change: learn to stand up to your foes. This sounds almost contradictory—fall back on your faith, but stand up to your foes. It is not contradictory. It fact, it is a necessary part of faith. How can you say you are falling back on your faith, if you give up and quit and let life defeat you?
And that brings us to a final essential for dealing with a changing world: look for God’s hand. We said in times of great change to fall back on your faith to gain strength to stand up to your foes. And that’s critical. But this is different. There are some changes that are from God. There are some changes, which bring significant good into our lives. And we thank God for them. We can see changes in history—the fall of the Third Reich, for example, or of the Soviet Union, or maybe even Saddam Hussein—that we could say, “This was from God.” Sometimes we can look back at our own lives and say the same thing. The loss of a job—or even a relationship—turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. And we say, “God’s hand was at work.”
There are other changes that have occurred to us in which God’s hand was less discernable. Some changes appear to have come from hell itself. But the good news is this: There is no situation that cannot be redeemed if we will turn it over to God. Any change can be used to God’s glory. Any change can be an opportunity for us to grow in faith, hope and love.
Look for God’s hand. If you cannot see it in the event itself, look for it in the aftermath when you are putting your life back together. I promise you, God’s hand will be there. The disciples of Jesus were impressed by the magnificence of the temple in Jerusalem. They thought the temple would be there forever. One of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!”
Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
That’s a warning about all of life. Only one thing in this world is sure—God’s great love for us as revealed in Jesus Christ.
How quickly our world can be ripped apart. Here’s how we cope with a changing world. It is not easy, but it is sure: Fall back on your faith; stand up to your foes. Look for God’s hand. And let God give you the victory.
(This article was written after the sudden death of Captain Warriner’s wife, Cheryl.)