Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Greater Perspective

I kept my faith even when I said, "I am greatly afflicted."  -- Psalm 116:10
I don't know how exactly that people can wander around life thinking, "I'm in control of my life."  I have a little bit of trouble wondering how people set goals and make plans.  I was once an Urban Planner and wrote 20-year Comprehensive Plans.  I've known individuals who have made a 5-year plan for their life.  The shooting in Tucson this last weekend, car accidents, bad diagnoses, unplanned pregnancies and economic downturns - just to name a few - speak to the fragility of life and the complete unexpected, unimaginable events that enter life to make it seem totally capricious and unpredictable.  There are few really for whom life proceeds like clockwork, yet we so often think we're in charge of our destiny.  We're admonished by success coaches and positive-thinking gurus to "Make your plan and work your plan."  Yet plan and work though we do, the course frequently doesn't follow on track.  We wind up anxious and fretting, or worse, totally side-tracked in grief and despair.

Afflictions often enter life unplanned and unannounced.  Wee glitches like bank overdrafts, or appendicitis attacks; or larger things like heart attacks, or violent muggings alter the course of what we had planned.  There is nothing like a death of a loved one or a life threatening diagnosis to sober us up to the fragility of life and how NOT in charge of life we are!

YET, even when I say, "I am afflicted," the Psalmist says, "I kept my faith."  So often when afflictions come we see people who follow the advice of Job's friends: they curse God and walk away since He seemingly won't give them what they want.  They rail at all those around them, "How can anyone believe in a god who won't intervene?"  Little g - god- is precisely the problem.  Our God is not the little g -- some small familial superstitious deity in charge of handling all our whim wants up until the day the Big problem strikes.  We have faith in a God who is bigger than this life; bigger than our plans; bigger than eternity -- with an eternity's perspective with an everlasting life offered for those who take faith seriously.  This kind of larger than life, overarching faith cannot be crushed by the problems in life - be they monstrously big like our child being shot at a grocery store by a whacked out gun-wielding assailant - or nicking ourselves shaving.  We walk with a God who knows it all -- not just the here and now, but the there and forevers.  He sees where and how we fit and often we're the last to know what that plan is.  The fact is, we can't know, and because we can't faith is demanded.  We walk by faith, not by sight.  We trust the larger, behind the scenes, mysterious and unfathomable dimensions that our Lord can see and we hang onto His perspective in times of tragedy because our own is so puny to explain anything about the life stuff that CAN seem impossibly hard to bear.  The shocks and troubles and deaths in life WOULD be impossible to bear without the Big God.  So be one who keeps faith, even when afflicted.  It's all any of us have.

Dear Big G -- keep tragedy away, nurture security and peace within, help us to trust that You have the wheel of a far bigger boat that we sail upon, than the little ones we paddle around little ponds we think are huge.  Amen. 

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