Unshakeable- Over It
The name of this series is “Unshakeable,” but if we’re being honest with ourselves, there are times in life when we experience personal “earthquakes” that shake us up quite a bit.
The purpose of this series is not to suggest that if you become (or already are) a Christian, that you will face a life free of instability or uncertainty. On the contrary, we find that grief, pain, brokenness, and suffering is found everywhere.
Every time we step out the door, we find ourselves in a society ridden with these realities.
Every day you encounter people who haven’t eaten this week, people who are trying to manage chronic illness and disease, people who lost their job and can’t afford to pay their rent, people who suffer with extreme mental instability in the forms of depression and anxiety.
Here’s the truth – Our faith does not leave us untouched by the ache of affliction.
Even Jesus followers will have to endure pain in this life. The Man himself, Jesus Christ, God-in-flesh had to suffer. And it doesn’t matter how many days a week we read scripture, or how much money we put in the offering basket, some suffering in this life is just unavoidable.
Some days, we just don’t know how we will ever get over it. Agony that is greater than usual can lead us to feel defeated - and defeat is never where we want to be.
All this to say, while we’ll never discover a life free of “earthquakes,” my desire is to show you how to have an unshakeable faith – even in the middle of heartache.
For those of you currently in a season of loss and pain, we’d like to remind you that there is a way “over it.” Read on to discover how.
You Do Not Have to Succumb to Grief
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Something will happen that will shake our life up. Although we may not always be able to control what happens to us, we can control how we undergo and perceive the things that happen to us.
In other words, many situations in this life were not our choice and may be beyond our ability to manage. But no matter what happens to us, we do have a choice in how we receive it and respond to it.
In these times of devastation, it can be hard to see past the destruction, but you can find your way out of the darkness.
There may be loss, but we do not have to lose. We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.
Defeated Christians are Deceived Christians
Have you ever met a “defeated Christian?”
I’m not talking about sad, or let down, or disappointed. I’m talking about defeated.
I bet you know that person. Maybe you are that person.
Always in distress. Forever the victim. Maybe a little sour toward good people.
Sometimes we refer to these people as “Debbie Downer” or “Negative Nancy.” They aren’t exactly people whose company we enjoy.
Sadly, there are several Christians who have earned those nicknames. This happens when these Christian believers believe there is no longer hope.
There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no opportunity for present peace. They have given up altogether and they don’t have an ounce of faith left.
Many are slow to admit this is how they feel, but it becomes evident in the way that they talk about God, life, and their circumstances.
The reality is there is no such thing as a Christian who has not, cannot, or will not overcome the broken situation they find themselves in. There is no such thing as a Christian who doesn’t have a hope and a future. There is no such thing as a Christian who God has forgotten or given up on.
Defeated Christians are those who have believed the lie that God is incapable of doing a work in them and through them that is strong enough to restore them and bring them out of their affliction.
Not a Positive Thinking Mantra
This is not “positive thinking” mantra.
It’s not godly or healthy to deny reality. You can be sad, disappointed, hurt, and let down. Feeling these emotions proves your humanity.
God’s calling is not for us to ignore our grief as though it does not exist. We don’t have to pretend that everything is okay, we just need to believe that, eventually, everything will be okay.
You and I must avoid outright defeat. Why?
Because defeat leads us down a dark path. Defeat leaves us to drown in self-pity. Defeat cultivates bitterness toward God, others, and ourselves.
How to Suffer Like You Know God is With You
If I cannot choose defeat, and I should not choose to act obliviously optimistic, then what is my third option?
The authors of scripture prescribe a third option for the believers and it’s simple.
Suffer like you know God is with you. Suffer like you know God is for you. Suffer like you know God cares for you.
Let’s look at this passage from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:4-9
1. Choose Joy
“Rejoice in the Lord always” is to say, “choose joy” or “find joy in your Lord.” You cannot wait for joy to come to you but you must seek it and pursue it with all your might.
You need the kind of joy is built on the bright hope and overflowing goodness of God alone. If there is no hope, then there is no joy. If God is not good, then there is no joy.
But because God has given us a future and filled the world with his delight, we can find joy instead of despair.
2. Persist in Prayer
Do not be anxious but pray instead, letting your requests be known to God - Philippians 4:6
When we pray, especially in a continuous and persistent manor, we are declaring faith that God hears us, is with us, and can do all things.
Pray and keep praying until you get an answer. As D.L. Moody, famous charismatic Bible preacher, once noted, “Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all.”
One of the key truths we remember in prayer is that as we draw near to God, so he also draws near to us. When we forsake prayer, our thoughts grow ill and our hearts drift further from the Lord (an easy way to become defeated).
3. Give Thanks
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
While Paul encourages his readers to bring before God what they need, he also carefully instructs them to thank God for what they have.
When we practice the discipline of thanksgiving, we are directly waging war against any temptation of defeat.
We choose to see our cup as half full and not half empty, if not altogether overflowing. We choose to notice God’s graces and not life’s disappointments.
When we focus on what we have lost, we are tempted to give up. But when we look at where God has brought us from, how he has blessed us immaterially and materially, and the working of his Spirit within us and through us, we cannot help but to be encouraged and brought to peace.
In expressing our gratitude, we remember that God does care for us.