About a month ago, upon entering my garage, I discovered the ceiling saturated with water. It turns out that one pipe had a pin-hole sized leak in it. Even though the pressure of water that was spraying from the pipe was barely visible, it did a fair share of damage. A large portion of the ceiling needed to be removed in order for the repair to take place.
About a week later, I get a frantic call from my wife. It turns out someone rear-ended her vehicle at an intersection. She was ok which was the most important fact in the whole matter.
Still a week later, the bank where I work was robbed. Everything ended safely and all of the employees came out ok albeit shaken up and trembling. After about four hours of investigation, we were able to open back up again and resume business as usual.
A few days after that, after getting a few emails from friends, I realized that my email account was hacked. It turns out someone from Indonesia logged in to my account from a mobile phone. I was not traveling in that part of the globe for sure.
Just recently, I was informed that one of my male cousins was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Our whole family is praying for the will of God to be done in His life. We are praying for the immediate family to be comforted and consoled during this difficult time.
Last week, a power outage plunged a large part of South Orange County (where I reside) into complete darkness in the fading heat of Thursday evening.
Needless to say, I have had my fair share of bad news for the last few weeks. Some of these items (save for the last two) might seem trivial or inconsequential compared to other events that might have happened. To me, they were road signs on the highway of life that led me to stop and think for a moment. I thought specifically about the fragile nature of life.
In his short letter, James offers this following excerpt regarding the nature of our life:
Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (Js. 4:15).
Our life is fleeting in nature and vanishes quickly like the morning mist. We are here only for a short blip of time in comparison to the rest of history. The mundane, the catastrophic and the painful events of life are inevitable. All of us have experienced or are experiencing something that might keep us awake at night. For me personally, I realized that it is not about what is happening in your life that is more important but how you react to your current circumstance.
If we are to continue to look at life from a distinctly Christian perspective, we must filter all life events through the prism of our finite existence. We need to realize that we are here only temporarily. As the Apostle Peter reminds us, we are sojourners, exiles and aliens here on this earth (1 Pet. 2:11). Paul reminds us that our citizenship is not here but in heaven from which we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Php. 3:20).
So what do we do with all of these items that inevitably creep up on us in our life? Here are five perspectives we must live with when we think of the fragile nature of life:
1. Realize that your life is but a vapor that will quickly vanish. James reminds us that the shortness of our life must be kept in focus at all times. What specifically are you doing in your life to make the biggest impact for the glory of God? What plans have you made hastily that deny the temporal nature of your life? We must never forget that we are mere men (or women). This needs to revolutionize our way of life. No longer should we be entangled in trivial arguments. No longer should grudges or hang-ups be present in our life. Forgive quickly, reconcile expediently and forget promptly. An extension of love towards those that surround you should be the banner under which you function.
2. Live life in light of eternity. When we look at the problems we experience in life — whether they change your life or barely cause a ripple in your routine — they need to be looked at in light of eternity. If we are to live as a people who submit to the sufficiency of Scripture, our theology must direct our methodology. What is the reason that we lose sight of eternity? What is the reason that we get so caught up in the trivial matters of life? What is the reason that mundane occurrences high-jack the direction of our life? It is because our focus has switched from the eternal to the temporal. We are in need of an aerial alignment that sets the course for a safe landing in heaven.
3. Get through a difficult season with passionate prayer. I have said this before. Sometimes, we are so ready for the season to change. But, the season is only interested in changing us. Maybe you are ready for your job to change. Maybe you can’t wait for your spouse to change. Maybe a sickness has plagued you and has had a debilitating effect on your life. We can get through this season with passionate prayer. But our prayer life cannot simply be fired up when going through a difficult time. We must incorporate this indispensable discipline into the rhythm of our life. Your prayer life then becomes not seasonal but year around. You then bind every benediction with “If the Lord wills” not as a repetitive platitude, but as a reality in which you wholeheartedly believe.
4. Avoid camping out on the lawn of discontentment. Do your best to not take a trip to this campground. The bible teaches us to be perpetually thankful (Eph. 5:20). When we are intentionally filled with gratitude, there will be no more room left for discontentment. Unhappiness is brewed within us when we listen to what we think of us. Instead of listening to ourselves, we must speak gospel truths that can be viably heard by us. We need to remind ourselves of who we are, what we are doing here and for how long we are here. Discontentment breeds temporary atheism where we turn to our functional god for solutions to our issues. How can we ever fall into a state of discontentment when we have the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2) to look forward to along with an eternal feast (Rev. 19:7) hosted by Jesus?
5. Worship your way out of anxiety. It was three weeks before my last semester in seminary was going to come to a celebratory close. I left work early to get to my class. I had one hour to cover the distance of fifty miles. The traffic on the 405 was absolute gridlock. I had a huge exam to take for my last language class. The weather was hot and unfortunately I was not headed to the beach. I felt myself slowly slipping into point four from above. This is when I intentionally changed the atmosphere that was brewing in my vehicle. I turned on Red Letter and tuned in to my favorite song on that album (which was Led To The Slaughter btw). I sang along with the artist. I had tears streaming down my face. This time, it was not from the grueling traffic I had to endure. It was from the satisfaction of worshiping my Savior. It was an unforgettable worship experience. Whenever we become anxious from the worries of life, we must begin to worship. We must be like Job. When calamity strikes, we engage in perpetual worship (Job 1:20). We must pay attention to what Paul told the Philippians to do (Php. 4:6). We must not be anxious about anything. We must do what Jesus told us to do (Matt. 6:25-34). We must not worry about tomorrow. Today has enough to engulf our senses. Tomorrow, Jesus will take care of. Just like he took care of today. Instead of anxiously anticipating the outcome of a problem, start to passionately worship Jesus who for our benefit sent to earth the Holy Spirit, that comes along side of us to comfort us (Jn. 16:7).
Question: In what way have you noticed the fragile nature of life? How do you shift your perspective when life unexpectedly presents you with less than pleasant circumstances?