Recently, my oldest son Matthew spent eight days at MUSC Children’s Hospital. The surgery had been expected for months to repair his sunken chest, but what would happen next was not expected. Sure, I knew in my mind his recovery would be painful and the results would be worth it. What I didn’t expect was seeing my son, holding his chest, struggling to breathe, while begging for relief. I felt helpless and overwhelmed as the man in the recovery room said, “I’m sorry sir, but this is one of the most painful procedures we do here. Right now there is nothing else we can do to ease his pain.” It was at that point that I left his mom by his side, while I took a much needed prayer walk.
Obviously things worked out because my 13yr old son is home and recovering well. But, at that moment, I felt rocked to the core, powerless, and all I could do was fall on my knees. I have a feeling that many of you have been there and will likely find yourself there again. Whether you’ve watched a loved one suffer, watched life as you once knew it disappear, or experienced firsthand some other unexpected life crisis. This I know, it always feels different when things happen in your own backyard.
I must admit, I was a bit disappointed in my own crisis management skills. As a pastor and hospice chaplain, I have been by the bedside of so many experiencing every imaginable kind of life crisis. However, none of those experiences seemed to help when faced with my own crisis. As I sought to gather myself and find peace amidst the uncertainty, here are the only things that brought me through the storm.
#1 GOD IS STILL THERE. We may feel alone, but we’re never alone. We may wonder where God is at the moment, but the truth is He has never left our side. “God is our place of safety. He gives us strength. He is always there to help us in times of trouble.”(Psalm 46:1)
#2 GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL. When life as we know it comes unglued we are tempted to come unglued as well. Quickly, we can find ourselves in panic mode and feeling like everything is spiraling out of control. That’s when our faith must not be in our limited ability, but God’s unlimited ability. “Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
#3 GOD IS STILL AT WORK. It’s hard to see when caught up in the moment. But, God is always at work even when man says there is nothing more that can be done. One of the most quoted scriptures found in God’s word is Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
#4 GOD STILL HAS A PLAN. I’m a firm believer that there are no accidents, only appointments. What takes us totally by surprise never takes God by surprise. All our days are numbered and life’s moments are orchestrated by a God who holds today and tomorrow in his hands. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
#5 GOD IS STILL GOD. Nothing settles the soul more than knowing that God is still God. God is ALL knowing, ALL powerful, ALL loving, Always there and ALWAYS able to do immeasurably more than we could ever dream or imagine. “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
Life is full of ups and downs. There are times when you really don’t know what hit you. A sudden and unexpected storm can send shock waves to your heart. Before you know it your mind is flooded with uncertain thoughts as you quickly find yourself somewhere you’ve never been before. These are some things we must each remember when life throws us a curve ball.