Hope In The Dark: Changes
Hurricane Michael pummeled the Florida Panhandle several weeks ago wreaking unimaginable devastation to our area. In a few hours the storm was over Northwest Florida, everything changed. So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. Homes are gone, businesses are gone. Roads and infrastructure along the storm’s path have been destroyed. And the impact that this storm has had on people is still yet to be fully understood. The question is this: are we learning to change or do we change to learn as followers of Jesus?
Something To Talk About:
What if we stopped looking at change as a bad thing by realigning our hope on Jesus alone and begin trusting that His plans are good and He loves us in good times and in bad? To do that consider these 8 steps:
- Change is inevitable: Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” When things are going bad we tend to welcome change, but conversely, when life is going great for us, we want things to stay this way forever. Nothing stands still for long. Change is inevitable, so we must try to effectively deal with these persistent ups and downs by learning to lean on Jesus in times of transition and change.
- Not all change is good, but God can use it for good: Life is strange. You can set your course for good and end up in a very bad way. You can end up somewhere you never intended to be. The good news is God can use your lack of direction for His good. (Romans 8:28)
- Change is always a test of your faith: Faith is like a muscle; it develops by being used. Making changes that need to be made or trusting God when your circumstances are changing is a test of faith. And the more you use your faith, the more it gets stretched. And the more it gets stretched, the more God is able to bless your life. “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold.” (1 Peter 1:7a)
- Look for God in the change: There are so many things in this life we wish God would change. And there are things that we wish God would not change. But since change is inevitable we should look for God in the changes. Maybe God is in the middle of the changes because He wants to change you. God is always in the process of finishing what He started in us. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6) So be on the lookout for what God is trying to do in the midst of the changes.
- Ask God for wisdom: When Solomon was a young man, God appeared to him in a dream and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” (1 Kings 3:5) Solomon was humble enough to see his need for God’s wisdom and to ask Him for it. Like Solomon, we too need to see our need for God’s wisdom and to ask Him for it. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” God will give wisdom for every situation you encounter. Whether it is what to say or what to do, He will give you the wisdom to handle the situation. We simply need to ask.
- Listen for God’s whisper: I love the words of David in Psalm 85:5 (MSG) “I hear this most gentle whisper from One I never guessed would speak to me.” When God speaks, it usually begins as a whisper. Psalm 55:2 (MSG) says, ”Come close and whisper your answer. I really need you.” Those who want to listen and are quiet can hear the whispers of a loving God. But too often, we are too busy to stop and be quiet to listen.
- Trust God no matter what: How is it possible to trust God when we are faced with something very difficult? It is easier said than done and often God is our last and final resort when things seem bleak. It is at these times when God is most trustworthy. We need to remember God has ultimately delivered and rescued us and He continually works wonders in our lives. Because of that, we can trust Him. Our goal as a follower of Jesus is that our relationship with Him will lead us to a place where we will learn to trust Him no matter what our circumstances.
- Change will happen, seasons will come and seasons will go. Agree or disagree and why?
- What does our reaction to change say about our relationship with God?
- How can we see God in the midst of change? How can we better hear his whisper?
- God is faithful and He will use all things for His Good: agree or disagree and why?
- Why is it important to look to God’s Word for wisdom, rather than trusting impressions or feelings?
- What can or should we do when we hit a wall and lose sight of God’s promises in times of change?
- What does it mean to you to trust God in times of change?
- Does knowing the end of the story change how you deal with change?
- What can we do this week to better react to significant changes in our life?
Take one thing home with you:
“He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” – Job 1:21
There is something to be learned from this verse in Job. Three times in this short verse the name Lord is used. This word pretty accurately represents God as revealed in the Bible. Like Northwest Florida, Job got hit pretty hard yet he did not jettison what he knew to be true of God. He reminded himself that no matter how much things changed God is sovereign. And that God is a God of love, mercy and grace. He is confessing that God is in control. Job is essentially proclaiming that the horrifying events that occurred in his life does not trump God’s holiness and the love He has for Job. My prayer is that we draw guidance from Job on how to hold onto God in times of change.