Roller Coasters and Merry-Go-Rounds

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The other day I was thinking about how life can go along smoothly for a while, then out of the blue: WHAM! Some unwelcome or scary thing happens to us. And the thought occurred, “I have yet to meet anyone that goes to Disneyworld just to ride the Merry-Go-Round; most people at least want to ride one of the roller coasters”. While I may frown when things go “badly”, I need the variety of experiences in my life. I would be very bored if life was a series of Merry-Go-round days.

It seems we aim to minimize our exposure to events we identify as negative, such as sudden unemployment, mutating viruses, marital spats, unruly kids and politicians, dangerous drivers, financial straits, life-threatening illnesses, divorce, depression and consequences of our choices. Or, to put it in a better perspective, being chased into the Red Sea by an army, swallowed by a whale, or thrown in a lion’s den. Yet these “negative” experiences are faith-building exercises when we see God’s hand move in the most amazing ways. The most powerful stories in the Bible are interspersed with “negative” human experiences.

While God created us to experience the full range of being human, we declare the dangers and disappointments of this fallen world to be avoidable. Yet in His wisdom, God uses these types of experiences to teach us more about His presence, His grace, His mercy, His omnipotence.

I am just as awestruck by a powerful tornado as I am by a beautiful sunset. Maybe more so. A “falling star” may be a wondrous thing to see in the sky but if it hits the Earth it would be disastrous. Danger of failure or destruction is often the vehicle that opens our eyes to see the attributes of God more clearly.

Odd as it may sound, when I hear that someone has unexpectedly lost their job I get a little excited for them. These types of situations have been when God’s power and will was more evident to me. In these moments we are able to see how He moves on our behalf. When the new job is delivered to us, we celebrate God’s benevolence and concern for our welfare.

It is more challenging to celebrate before the new job is delivered. To praise God when there is not yet evidence of His involvement is an act of faith. I don’t know the next difficult situation I will face but I’m certain there will be one. That’s just how life works. Uncertainty is a certainty. I hope I will choose to exercise faith instead of doubt or dismay. It could happen.

These recurring opportunities to practice faith in the face of adversity are real possibilities to see God show up in dramatic ways. God does not give us more than we can handle, yet He gives more to some than others. Moses comes to mind; as does Job, Joseph, Daniel, and several others. These familiar stories can inspire us, comfort us, teach us, and reveal the nature of the loving Father to us, and to those around us.

Just as these people experienced, being in over our heads can be intimidating, scary, out-of-control… and oh so beautiful. So hang on, and enjoy the ride!

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

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