“Why NOW? Couldn’t it have waited another hour, day, week, year…? This could NOT be happening at a worse time… It’s just not fair… If I knew this was going to happen, I would’ve prepared better… I have too much on my plate for this right now... ”
It’s always something, isn’t it? As if life doesn’t have enough burdens already. We blink our eyes for just a moment and some unexpected, unpleasant circumstance bursts onto the scene. We shudder at the thought, fearful of buckling under the weight of the newest problem. Even if we are lucky enough to see something difficult coming, we can rarely prepare for it. In protest to the situation, we roll our eyes, grit our teeth and stomp our feet in disapproval. “Why is this happening to me?” we ask. “I can’t handle it right now.”
On a daily basis, misfortunes may be waiting to pounce. It’s always something... The death of a loved one; a struggling business; a grim diagnosis; a financial setback; a painful argument; an unexpected delay; a difficult separation; a debilitating injury; a terminated job; an onslaught of depression or anxiety; a pile of expectations and obligations… need I say more? We find ourselves staring down the loaded barrel of the bad, the ugly, or the unbearable . We live our simple lives, don’t we? We mind our own business, right? “Wham,” life throws us a curveball. We feel blindsided and rattled.
How do we respond? We get angry and shake our fists. We feel slighted by the powers that be. We panic and give into the fear of the unknown. We get distracted and grow weary. We wander and wallow in self pity. We fall into a state of limbo, pouring all of our energy into waiting for the circumstances to change, sort themselves out or fade away. “Once this passes, I’ll be alright,” we say. We’re willing to put everything else on hold to give our full attention to things that are almost always out of our control.
It’s in our nature to react this way- to feel like we got the “short end of the stick.” Even a professing “child of God” can’t help but feel a bit “unlucky” or “cursed” sometimes, right? Or can we? When difficult circumstances come knocking, is your first response full of hope, peace and confidence? Do you calmly address God by saying, “it’s alright that this is happening, Lord, because I know it’s for Your glory,” or is your initial reaction something along the lines of “why are You letting this happen, Lord? It’s not fair!”?
In the back of our mind, we cling to the notion that IF the circumstance just came at a different time, it would’ve been easier to handle; we would’ve been more prepared or we could’ve done something about it. I can’t say that I act any differently, but one nugget of wisdom does keep things in perspective for me when I feel scorned by the heavens.
There is never a GOOD time for BAD circumstances. They happen, and often for a purpose. I must check the shape of my faith and leave my foolishness at the door.
Is there a good time to lose someone you love?
Is there a good time to get laid off from your job?
Is there a good time to receive an unexpected bill?
Is there a good time to get grim diagnosis, suffer an injury or find your health is failing?
Is there a good time for pipes to burst, electricity to fail or trees to fall through your roof?
Is there a good time for a flat tire, an empty gas tank or a fender bender?
Is there a good time to see flashing lights or sirens in your rearview mirror?
Is there a good time to be late to work, lose your keys or drop your phone in the toilet?
Is there a good time to argue with a parent or child, sibling or spouse, friend or foe?
Is there a good time to wake up with crippling depression, fear or anxiety?
Is there a good time to take on more responsibilities than we think we can handle?
Is there EVER a good time for bad news?
You may read this list and shake your head. You know the answer, right? You know better. Go ahead and scoff, but this is exactly how most our minds process the unexpected. We face the “unpleasant” and respond with “but, if only…” Again I say, there is never a good time for bad circumstances. Something will always pop up. We will always wish it didn’t. But, the quicker we come to grips with that, the quicker we can face things and heal, the quicker we can get on with our lives and the quicker we can make a difference for someone else facing a similar situation. When we learn to overcome, by running to the grace of our Heavenly Father, He may even choose to reveal His intents and purposes for the circumstance and how it’s meant to shape us.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4: 14-16 (NIV)
We take out insurance for an arsenal of problems. We have savings and investment accounts, fireproof safes and money hidden in our mattresses. We have backups to our backups, covering everything from clothes to cars. We have generators to backup our power sources and our files are protected in “the cloud.” We have accountability, from those in authority over us to the friends who guide us through trials. Still, there is no better insurance policy than the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever faithful God. He is eager to answer our list of complaints and even more eager to help us through them. We have a Savior who sympathizes with every struggle we encounter. Jesus, the hero (and victim) of the most divine struggle in human history can certainly attest to our pain and share in our pleading for relief. He can certainly relate to the “please ease this load” mentality.
"Jesus walked on a little way. Then he knelt with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup. But do what you want, and not what I want.” Matthew 26: 39 (CEV)
Many possess the head knowledge of faith, but lack the spiritual discipline to harness it in times of struggle. We claim to know God, but point the finger of blame at Him when life goes sour. We’re playing “peekaboo,” with the Father; smiling when things go well, but panicking when He seems hidden. He calls us to stand firm on His promises, in everything, always. We are quick to dispense Godly advice to others, but slow to recollect it when our foundations are shaken. What advice do we so often deal out? “Trust in God. Wait on Him. Have faith. Find peace in His word. God has a plan. Cast Your burdens on Jesus. I’ll be praying for you...” All true! All great things to say, but all very difficult to see when you’re the one in a cloud of confusion or tornado of turmoil.
I’ve watched many unpleasantries surface in the lives of those I care for; a grim diagnosis, financial setback, death of a beloved, loss of employment, depression, confusion… All unplanned trips through an unmarked wilderness. It’s disheartening to know that the “spiritual” answers may not help them right away. I feel like a played out record when all I can say is “I’m here if you need me. I’ll be praying.” I plead with the Lord to demonstrate His power and reveal His peace, but when He doesn’t seem quick to answer, I must remind myself that His sight is greater than my own and His purposes are perfect.
Where can we turn to learn how to respond in struggle? Just ask Job. “Wait, Job? Not THAT guy again!” I despise when his name is brought up. How I loathe his tale of woe and worship. When we stand in the face of suffering someone always feels obligated to remind us of Job and his perfect response to the testing of his faith. Sickness, famine, shame, but what did “good little Job” say?
“The Lord alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:21 (CEV)
I want to say “shut up, Job,” but wait, that’s my pride talking. I don’t get angry because I dislike the story. It’s not an unrealistic tale. I am simply ashamed that my faith is not that of Job’s. He wasn’t giving God the “Sunday School” answer, He was acting on true faith, with an understanding that regardless of His situation, God never changes. Regardless of fear, God is still present. Regardless of loneliness, God’s love can invade. Regardless of doubt, God keeps His promises. Job understood that His purpose was to worship the Lord in every phase of His life and He acted with intent to serve God in spite of the storm. It’s "always something," right? When the next “something” comes along, you’ll have a choice in how to respond. I bet Job understood that there is no good time for bad circumstances. They happen, and often for a purpose. His words can be your mantra as well.
“The Lord alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the Lord!”