Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Coping with Life’s Surprises

Have you ever been driving down the road when suddenly you hear, “BLAM!” and realize a tire has blown out? That’s never pleasant or convenient. Life presents many “blow-out moments,” times when distressing news invades the tranquility of everyday routines.

That happened more than three years ago when I was confronted with open-heart surgery, and now my family faces another serious issue. What do you do when life throws the proverbial curve, veering you off the straight and smooth course you were following?

For me, this – more than at any other time – is when the genuineness of my faith is tested. It’s easy to profess confidence in God during good times. “Thanks, Lord, but I’ve got this pretty well handled.” But what about when circumstances exceed your grasp and there’s little you can do?

Skeptics might contend faith in times of adversity is merely a crutch, a coping mechanism. In one sense they’re correct. But if you have a sprained ankle or broken leg, a crutch isn’t just desirable; it’s necessary. The same is true of spiritual faith. We can give lip service to what we believe when all seems well, but when things spin out of control, what holds you up?

This week we observe “Good Friday,” the remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross. We celebrate it not just because of Jesus’ sacrificial act on the cross, but because of what occurred two days later. As someone has said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 the apostle Paul writes, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant…or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and arose again….” The fact Jesus triumphed over death offers not only hope for life after death, but also hope for life before death – that He is here to guide, strengthen and comfort us amid the inevitable realities of daily living.

As I’ve written before, this is hope – the earnest expectation, confident assurance of faith in a loving, gracious, merciful God, not the “hope-so” of life apart from Him.

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