Life is chaotic. (I doubt you need to be convinced of that.)
The question is, how do we rise above the chaos? How do we as couples and parents avoid getting pummeled by the torrent of depressing news stories, sin struggles; rushed, incomplete, misunderstood conversations, gaming addictions, and costly car repairs?
- Accept reality.
One hot, humid morning this week (it felt like 100 degrees at 7:30 am), my wife and I were sitting on our porch, sipping coffee and talking about our marriage. We had just had a truth circle and mentioned things about each other that we did not like. We were not arguing at all. It was a very gracious and productive conversation. Leslee’s response to what I did that upsets her was so encouraging. She said, “Well, if it were not for these things, we would not be the people we are today. As it is, they are God’s prescription for us to become more like him.”
This was a well-placed reminder that all of the crud going on that had me in the fetal position was reality in a sinful, broken world. We don’t like it. We can’t change it. It is what it is. In the face of the crud, I typically want to replay the video tape and see where I messed up or where others messed me up. While some reflection is necessary, staying in that mode is not accepting but rejecting what is. It is a no-win game that keeps us locked in a downward spiral.
- Remember that God is bigger than our reality.
But there is another, more potent reality at work than the slings and arrows of daily life: God himself. God—the one who spoke the world into existence with nothing but his words—is a far more powerful reality. Colossians reminds us that in Jesus all things are held together. The delicate molecular balance in the air we breathe; gravity, sunrise and sunset are just a few constant reminders that God is in complete control. Every breath we take is a reminder that he lives. He cares about us.
Better, he is sovereignly working through all that we prefer was different as his prescription for getting what we each need: to be made more like Christ. Normally, that is hard to agree with and be joyful about. I think my conversation with Leslee was an outlier. But God meets us there and gives us Someone: the Holy Spirit, and something else to help us.
- To “see” this invisible reality, God gives us the eyes of faith.
Faith, Hebrews says, is the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews associates eyes with faith. It takes faith to choose to act—especially in the face of difficulty and suffering—that God is bigger than the circumstance and using it all for our good. Faith is a gift from God through which we see and grab hold of him.
The people to whom Hebrews was written were suffering persecution. Some were imprisoned, some were having their property taken away. To these people in this situation, the writer spends a whole chapter on faith (Hebrews 11). He does not spend time dispensing sleek incantations to bolster faith. Instead, we have the accounts of others who faced far greater difficulty than we have, but whose faith anchored them in the reality that God had something much better for them. They all persevered. In some, there was significant failure, but even their failures did not ultimately void their faith or their ultimate possession of its object.
We can be encouraged that nothing we face in this life, even momentary faith failures, is bigger than God’s power and ability to work through. Nothing stops God. This reminds us that what really matters is not the quality of our faith, but the quality of who that faith is in. Paul tells Timothy, “He remains faithful even we are unfaithful.”
- Choose to believe that God is always up to something good.
This is truly good news. This is the other side of the crud we face every day. We hate it but God is using it. When we know God is loving, gracious and merciful and we really do find our greatest joy in him, we can approach the crud of marriage and family life with a new perspective. Don’t misunderstand me to be saying this makes life unicorns and fairy dust. It doesn’t. When we don’t have something—or someone– solid to anchor into, all we are left with is the empty promises and cynicism of the world’s unicorns and fairy dust.
It is helpful to remind ourselves—and our children—of these things.
I have developed a special presentation for men’s groups to encourage and equip fathers in having family devotions that are built on this strategy. Please click here to learn more.
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I recently read an encouraging article, Friendships for Fatherhood, check it out!