The past several weeks I find this thought to be common as my week begins. "I wonder what totally unexpected happening will become a part of this week's awareness?" Every week it seems jobs are lost. Every week we hear of someone we knew who died unexpectedly. Every week we hear of someone strong in faith experiencing personal struggles. Every week we learn of a family in crisis. Every week the news from North Korea is increasingly serious. Every week we are reminded the Afghanistan war is real. Every week indicators suggest we move closer to war with Iraq. Then something occurs like the Colombia space shuttle exploding in its attempt to return to earth.

Doom and gloom? No. Sobering? Yes. For years we were so comfortable in our lives, so comfortable in our faith, so comfortable in our plans, even so comfortable in our anticipated futures that we tended to be blind to reality. We defined security in terms of possessions and lifestyles. We defined God's promises and blessings in terms of our material desires. We defined relationship with God in terms of affirming the correct practices as we followed the correct system.

Disappearing jobs, disappearing lives, disappearing strengths, disappearing relationships, disappearing peace, and the unexpected confront past tendencies. If we are not careful, when such confrontations assault our past tendencies they also assault our faith. If we are not careful, such assaults on our faith quickly become assaults on our relationship with God.

Consider these reminders repeatedly stressed throughout the Bible.

1. God is the only certain reality. Nations rise and fall. Cultures rise and fall. Societies rise and fall. Leaders rise and fall. The strong rise and fall. The wealthy rise and fall. Those who live for pleasure rise and fall. The God Who created endures. He was before this world began. He will remain when this world ends. Wise is the man or woman who is in relationship with God.

2. Relationship with God promises the strength to endure struggles, not freedom from struggles. Abraham lived in dangerous situations. David fled to the wilderness. Jesus was a target. Paul faced unimaginable hardships. Yet, each found the strength to endure from a relationship with God.

3. The greater our dependence on God, the greater is our strength from God. Paul thought his effectiveness in his God-given mission significantly would improve if opposition ended. If God removed his opposition, he could get so much more done for Christ! The Lord's response: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). The Lord's way of looking at Paul's situation totally changed the way Paul saw his situation. "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (above verse).

4. Never forget the goal is to follow Christ as you place life in God. Never forget that you are in this world, but not of this world.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 9 February 2003

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