Grace in the Midst of the Week from Hell

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Grace in the Midst of the Week from Hell

Bombs, Dirty Mail, Fertilizer Explosions, and Floods: The third week of April 2013 failed to live up to its springtime reputation. The fresh sounds and smells of a winter coming out of hibernation were overwhelmed by apocalyptic headlines and apoplectic reactions to seemingly unending destruction and death. First there was Boston. Having crossed a few marathon finish lines myself, the last thing I’d want to be concerned about is the possibility of pressure cooker bombs and missing limbs. Then there was Capitol Hill and Ricin laced letters to lawmakers. Explosions in Texas and the flooded streets of Chicago rounded out a cable news week from hell. Whether the causes were sinister, accidental, or simply nature’s fury didn’t seem to minimize the unsettling impact these roundhouse kicks could have on people’s sense of calm and confidence. As a nation, we tend to respond extremely well to these kinds of events. We’re good at locking arms when attacked and running to each other’s aid when situations sucker punch the innocent. But what we do as a group doesn’t always align with how we feel when left to our own thoughts. It’s the nature of negative surprises—especially ones designed to strike terror. Yet, these very same setbacks afford us the opportunity to do two things that are extremely valuable. First, they force us to pull closer to God’s chest. It’s easy to take the good life we enjoy for granted until something terrible manages to slip beneath our myriad layers of self-protection. Whether its unleashed evil or untamed circumstances, fear can seize our heart so tightly that it leaves a permanent imprint from its grip. We can’t let that happen. When people allow their fears to define them they’re forced to live in a state of emotional punishment that will always limit their capacity to love.[1] God loves us too much to let us exist as people defined by our fears. His protecting, assuring, and calming grace can actually help us leverage weeks like last week to empower us to rest in his perfect love. The second valuable opportunity we gain from trying times like these is to give our children a chance to watch us remain calm while our resolve is put to the test. In John Steinbeck’s book, The Grapes of Wrath, he tells about the fierce dust storms that would roar across the Midwest plains carrying with them the power to destroy the crops and people’s livelihoods in their path. The adults (parents and grandparents) would study and stare at the aftermath of the storms, but the children would just stare at the face of these adults. What they saw on those parents’ and grandparents’ faces told them whether they needed to be worried. In the same way, our children are looking to us during these trying times to determine whether or not they should be truly afraid. They need to see on us that look of hope, courage, and determination that can get them through these kinds of tough experiences without being redefined by them. You can do this by giving these events the glances they deserve, while keeping your eyes trained on the Lord who has everything under control. The writer of Hebrews says what I’m trying to say much better. How about we let him have the last word. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-4


[1] Don’t believe me? Check out what the Apostle John says about this in 1 John 4:16-18.

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