The story is all too common, and it is a story we can all tell. Whether it was a day that went horribly wrong or the alignment of tough circumstances, we have all muttered under our breath or through gritted teeth, "Oh, what a day." Maybe you are fortunate enough to have someone in your life who will notice your demeanor and ask, "How was your day?" At that moment you are faced with the decision to unleash your true feelings and gush overwhelmingly about what has transpired, and in so doing paint a rather bleak picture of the day's events, or give the unenthusiastic and subdued general response of, "Pretty good, how about yours?"
We all have those days, we all face adversity, we all struggle, and we all have our way of handling it. For a lot of us, this is where our addictions, bad habits, and bad decisions find their origins. It's the circumstances, the things that happen to us, the stuff out of our control that so often determines the course of our days, weeks, months, and even years.
So if adversity is unavoidable, and if our circumstances are unpredictable and unforeseeable, yet constant throughout our days and lives - do we have to be constantly shaken and affected so negatively? Does it always have to be a struggle? Maybe you can see where I am going with this. Let me say it another way: If I can't control certain things in life, what can I control? So let's resign ourselves to the reality that life is going to throw us curveballs, and focus not so much on what we can't control, and think for just a second about what we can. Now bear with me, I am a pastor so you know I am going to mention Jesus or the Bible somewhere, but I am reminded of dozens of verses that speak right into this conversation. Let me give you one that has helped me tremendously as of late. It comes from 2 Corinthians 4:15-17:
as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
Now the depth of these three verses is enough to write several books about, but let me encourage you as this passage has encouraged me. God is doing something in the midst of the struggle. In fact, I am convinced God uses the struggles of our every day to bring about something eternal, and I am usually just too wrapped up in the situation to even consider that harsh reality. I can tell you with all sincerity when an unavoidable situation or circumstance arises (inevitably) I instantly cling to this passage. It orients me towards the truth of God's wisdom and it grounds me in the work of God - despite my circumstance. This passage has been so helpful to me in the past that I have made it the background of my phone's home screen (you can find it at forumchristian.org/wallpaper, if you would like it) so that I can pull it out at a moment's notice. I guess it is just one small way to respond to the situations in life instead of always reacting (which is what I usually do). It's helped me, and I pray it might help you as well.
As of late, I have watched one of my closest friends, mentors, and co-workers undergo a myriad of tough circumstances and unexpected struggles. I have seen him meet those severe obstacles with the kind of resolve and determination that Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians. I am so thrilled to tell you that after his heart surgery on September 10, Scott Sutherland is now at home and doing exceptionally. He would like to thank you all for your continued outpouring of love, prayer, and concern for him and his family. He is an excellent example to us all of what it means to follow Jesus in the midst of every circumstance. I would ask that you continue to pray for a speedy and full recovery.