Illness, a crazy-long election, political unrest, job loss, racial tension, financial pressure, loss of life. These are a few of the trials 2020 has surfaced. I’m currently walking alongside several close friends whose lives have been changed by difficult medical diagnoses or painful relational struggles.
What’s the most significant change or uncertainty you are facing? Maybe it’s leaving home for the first time, a shifting family structure, a hard break-up with a significant other or the challenge of a new job. Changes don’t have to be “bad” to be stressful. But with change, we lose our sense of “normal” and adjustment can be difficult. With all the unrest of this year, some of us have lost our equilibrium. How do we regain it so we can thrive again?
A quick internet search on “how to cope with change” will bring echoes of the same advice: acknowledge change as normal, accept what you can’t change (while working to change what you can), grieve what you’ve lost, and move on. While none of this is necessarily wrong, I notice that it all starts and ends with SELF. In other words: dig deep and you will find what you need inside of yourself to get by.
If I’m being truthful, sometimes life is so heavy I just don’t have what it takes to bounce back well. I need a different Source. Thankfully, as believers, we have one in Christ. Philippians 4:11-13 reminds us that we can find contentment in any situation because we can do all things (even the most intensely difficult things) through Christ. With that truth as a foundation, here are a few practical reminders to help us move through change with resilience and hope, instead of despair:
- I can surrender control. We are creatures of habit. We like consistency, stability, and a measure of predictability. We like making plans, and don’t generally care for surprises. When the winds of change blow, our sense of security is threatened. What we have to remember is that all of our “control” is actually perceived We have no power to add a single hour to our life or protect ourselves or our loved ones from pain. God, however, is all-powerful and sovereign. He created the universe and holds it together (Col. 1:16-17) gathering the wind in his fists, measuring the waters in the hallow of his hand, assigning the sea its limit, weighing the mountains on a scale (Prov. 30:4, Isaiah 40:12, Prov.8:29). He gives; He takes away. In his hand are life and death. He brings prosperity and also disaster, he raises up nations and also destroys them. (Isaiah 45:7; Job 1:21; 12:10,23). These truths can feel unsettling, but in reality, there is freedom in realizing I don’t have to fix things or even perfectly understand them. There is Someone who sees life from a higher perspective and all that happens in my life passes through His watchful gaze (Is. 55:8; Psalm 115:3; Prov. 16:33). I can leave my uncertainty in His capable hands.
- I can wash my mind with truth. Change makes us feel uncomfortable, weak, insecure, incompetent. As I spin in my own thoughts, I grow fearful and discouraged. But I have a choice to bring my emotions under the control of my mind—and I do that by filling my mind with truth (II Cor. 10:5; Col. 3:2). As I allow His Word to penetrate my heart, I begin to see reality from His perspective. Slowly the haziness gives way to clarity; I find I have something meaningful to hold onto. I begin to focus on truths such as these: the hardships I’m experiencing in this life are temporary and are not comparable to the glory to come; God works all things for the good of those who love Him; God is for me, not against me; God’s plans for my future are good and He remains faithful (Rom. 8:18, 28, 31; Jer. 29:11; II Tim. 2:13). His Word is rich and deep and it brings life to our dry bones. Let it wash over your mind and refresh you.
- I can choose to cling to God. Ultimately, we don’t just need God’s Word, we need a person: Jesus. When everything around us shakes and quakes and threatens to give way, we have a helper who will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6). It has been said that there are three things that never change: God’s word, His character and His purpose. It is reiterated in the Bible constantly (Heb. 6:17, 13:8; Mal. 3:6: James 1:17; Ps. 33:11, 144:2; Eph. 1:11) and should give us reassurance and peace that there is one steady thing—and that is God Himself. No one can take that from you, no matter what!
Someone I know started out 2020 by posting, “I will not worry about ‘what if’ in this year; I am committed to trusting God ‘even if.’” I’ve thought back on that quote quite a few times and it’s been a powerful reminder to me that no matter what changes come, God is still enough and He is worthy of my trust and praise.