Wow, new day, new week, new month! Welcome to August. How about we start this new month with a little challenge. Here it is:
Let’s try for the next week, in virtually every situation we encounter, to ask the question, “Where is God in the middle of this?”
I guess it is human nature (the tendencies and habits of our old sin nature) to focus on the discomforts and disappointments of life. As if real traumatic events were not enough, we often take the smallest offenses, blow them way out of proportion (making them into mini traumas), and tell them over and over again, totally tainting our view of life.
The constant retelling of traumatic events (real and manufactured) only reinforces the emotions of trauma for the person speaking and communicates those emotions to those who listen, inviting traumatic responses from them, also. For example, a simple Facebook entry such as, “Sometimes you really have to wonder who your ‘true’ friends are….” sparks a firestorm of negative comments about all the horrible people in the world (themselves excepted, of course). Those streams of comments spiral downward and impact many, many people.
Of course, talking about and looking at discomforts, disappointments, trauma and the negative emotions and beliefs associated with them is what I do in ministry to people. However, there is an additional element that halts the cycle of simply reinforcing traumatic pain: we look for God in the middle of all these circumstances.
Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. Just because I don’t perceive Him doesn’t mean He isn’t there. Sometimes I miss Him because I have simply chosen not to look. Other times my life is so cluttered with activity and hurry that I don’t make time to listen and be available to Him. And sometimes my pain and confusion hinder my perception of Him. Consider Mary Magdalene as she comes to the garden tomb where Jesus was placed after the crucifixion. She meets Jesus but does not recognize Him because her perception is clouded by deep pain and confusion connected to His horrible death. He was really there with her but she did not know it – until He called her name. Similar instances occurred with the two men on the road to Emmaus and even the disciples. Jesus was a lot of places where folks did not recognize Him, at least initially.
Okay, now back to the challenge. For the next week, instead of embracing, accentuating and spreading pain associated with the events of life, how about exercising faith that Jesus really is Emmanuel and is in the middle of each and every situation in daily life by asking, “Where is God in the middle of this?” Like the folks who come to see me, you might be incredibly (and joyfully) surprised by the answer.