This week we packed our two cars full of kids and dogs and clothes and moved across the country. Moving is destabilizing. Most of what you know is stripped away. You have to have your GPS for a trip to the grocery store. The schools are different. Your church is different. Your home is different. Your neighbors are different.
With or without a move, the world is destabilizing right now. Things seem different, in constant flux and change.
The Human Experience is Unstable
If it isn’t COVID-19, it’s arguments about something political that likely shouldn’t need to be political. There are daily reports of shootings and more cybersecurity risks. There is injustice and there is loss. There are thousands of people or more desperately in need of refuge, sanctuary, and protection. Family violence and suicide are not new, but they are also on the rise. We are all boats in the middle of the lake of life, wondering if one more wave might find us overboard. You can trust in the security of the One Who Calms the Waves and still struggle when you see the next wave coming.
I think King David, Paul, Timothy, Lydia, Martin Luther, and Martin Luther King Jr. have all felt the same way. In the human experience, since brokenness entered our world in the Garden of Eden, one thing is for sure: we are not, nor have we ever been, stable.
God is Always Stable
But what do we do about it? How do we live like this, with uncertainty all around us, and wake up each new day with strong mental and emotional health? First, you are stronger than you think. We were created for resilience. God knew the whole story, God knows the whole story, and He knows that Hope wins. Second, this same God who created you for resilience in an unstable, broken world, is not absent, even when He feels distant.
God is invested. He was invested in the beginning, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, and He’s invested now. He was invested enough to send Jesus to die and rise for our salvation and He doesn’t stop there. Each day, He invests in this world through the Holy Spirit, alive and well in you and in me.
God’s stability is constant when our world feels uncertain.There are three things we can engage in every day to help us see that stability through that inner sense of instability when it rises up:
1. Each morning, stand in the promise that God is doing something new.
Life can feel awfully burdensome, and we often carry the weight of the world on our shoulders in very real and physical ways. The concept of newness is life-affirming when the heaviness makes us feel stuck or weighed down, sad and grouchy for longer than we’d like. New is sometimes hard to see. God sees new when we cannot because He is God and we are not.
Try setting a reminder of the hope of newness on your phone or a sticky note from Isaiah 43:19:
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”
2. Do not try to make simple what is complex.
Allow for not knowing the answers to life’s problems without ignoring them. Acknowledging that life is hard holds the incredible power of validation. When we dismiss our hardships, whether we perceive them as small or large, we end up feeling as if God is dismissive of them. Humans might be dismissive, but God is anything but dismissive. Try this question out when you see something destabilizing on the Internet or in your own life: What makes this problem complex? What is too complex for God?
Jeremiah 32:27 reminds us that God is found often in what is complex:
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”
3. Do not respond.
This is a Jesus pro-tip when encountering people committed to misunderstanding or misrepresenting Him. Jesus, perfect son of God, didn’t always engage in the discussion offered to Him. Jesus had boundaries. We have the ability to choose who gets our energy.
The Gospel will not suffer because we jumped out of a discussion thread or kept our mouths zipped during our cousin’s birthday party. The Gospel is a gift we get to share with others, not something we need to defend at all times. There are many hearts out there who need the Gospel but they have to be in a tender-hearted place to hear it. Otherwise, we end up just poking the bear. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to be the Gospel with shoes on, by being present in people’s lives, with handshakes, hugs, a listening ear, and time spent in relationship.
When you need to apply some boundaries, take heart in John 2:24-25:
“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”
When the world feels destabilizing, our God is an anchor, a solid rock, a refuge, and a fortress. May the love of Jesus Christ and the justice He embodies be ever-present in your days during this life of shifting sands. And may your mental health be strengthened by knowing He has made you with resilience in mind.
Strengthen your heart and mind with God’s love and the promise of hope.