5 Timeless Choices When Life Sucker-Punches You

5 Timeless Choices When Life Sucker-Punches You

It was 5:25 a.m. My phone sounded more like a firecracker on the Fourth of July than the quiet I usually expect that early in the morning. The buzzing, ringing, dinging, and vibrating could have woken the heavens, but thankfully, our God does not slumber or sleep (Psalm 121:4)—a truth that brought peace when I would have typically panicked.

The text message beeps hushed. I looked to read the four messages I received from four different people:

  • Colleen, please pray, husband lost his job without warning, don’t know what to do.
  • The mole removed last week . . . cancer . . . surgery next week. Please pray.
  • Divorce finalized, lost custody of my children . . . don’t want to go on.
  • Doctor confirmed . . . Alzheimer’s. Where do we go from here?

Tumbling and Fumbling

Life’s crises can sometimes hit us like a sucker punch—BAM! BAM! BAM!—and we’re left tumbling and fumbling through the fragments of a shattered life.

That morning, I wanted to turn off my phone and turn back the pages of time, so I could be prepared for the shock those text messages might have brought. But turning off a phone, pulling the covers over our heads, or wishing our situations away won’t change the bitter chill of life’s hardest circumstances.

Even though we try, we can’t calm the storms, slow the winds, or fix the broken, so what are our options? I know . . . you know: the “right” answer is to pray and trust God. But when we’re fumbling for our footing after getting slammed—when all we want is for the pain to cease—praying and trusting isn’t always that easy.

Our despair is magnified when others misquote Scripture as “gospel truth”; for example, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” To set the record straight, not only is that an unbiblical, terribly flawed belief; associating Paul’s teaching on temptation in 1 Corinthians with the human condition of suffering is devastating to the brokenhearted who are trying to endure life’s enormous challenges.

In fact, throughout Scripture, we are promised great suffering (Romans 5:3; 2 Timothy 2:3; Hebrews 12:7; James 1:2–3; 1 Peter 1:5–6; and more); and no Christian is entitled to an explanation why.

Isn’t it time we muster up a huge dose of humility, admit weakness, and ask for help?

Two Friends
Image from Photodune.

Clinging for Dear Life

Practically, what does that mean?

  • It means we need someone to sit with us as the dust settles, to wipe our tears and remind us of God’s strength in the midst of scattered messes.
  • It means we must cling to our Lord. To cling means to grip with fierce determination, to fix ourselves to the One who never sleeps or slumbers.

When we cling to Him, we let Him do the work because we are too weak to press on. Sometimes the hardest work we can do is to sit still and hang on. Sitting still and hanging on grows us, transforms us into people of character, of grace, of truth, of humble refinement.

I have had to CLING for dear life a time or two. In so doing, I have learned the following:

  1. Confidence replaces worry. God is sovereign. He is growing us, encouraging us to depend on Him. So we must depend on Him, call out to Him, tell Him our needs. And as we wait for His response, with His strength, we can release our worries.
  2. Love replaces anger. When we believe God is “for us,” loves us, and has a purpose in what happens to us and in us, then, instead of anger, we are able to embrace our circumstances with grace because they are rooted in His love for us
  3. Inspiration replaces discouragement. During times of suffering, we are on the front row of watching God work. His ways are unlimited, incredible, beyond description. If we were given a free front-row seat to an event that offered a display of the miraculous, we would go. So, let’s GO! There is no work as amazing as God’s.
  4. Needs replace demands. Dependence is humbling and makes no demands. Asking for help is courageous . . . a matter of the heart. God promises to provide; sometimes all that is required is to ask for help.
  5. Gratitude replaces entitlement. Clinging to Christ causes us to become acutely aware of His provision. Life is a gift. We must thank Him for everything that awakens us to His faithful care.

Let Me Hear from You

We serve a mysterious God who sometimes allows our world to crumble. It’s not our job to fix one another but to point us to the One who loves us and knows what is best. On that early morning, I prayed, called, and together we clung to Christ; the one who promises to see us through.

What keeps you from clinging to God? Worry, anger, discouragement, pride, entitlement? Friend, cling to God, He is at work. What one area of life can you release to God so that you can cling more tightly to Him?

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