Living at the Speed of Light – Facing Tragedy
To live at the speed of light, to walk in the light, to be a child of the light leads us into a counter culture. We are instructed to do some unusual things. For example, Paul encourages us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. To make music from our heart to the Lord, “giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20)
That may be easy for an apostle. But what about someone who lives in real life?
Did the Apostle Paul lead a sheltered life? Let’s look at the record:
Acts 14:5 - Paul and Barnabas were threatened with physical harm.
Acts 14:19 – Paul was stoned and left for dead.
Acts 16:22-24 – Paul and Silas are beaten and imprisoned
Acts 21:30-32 – a mob attempted to kill Paul
2 Corinthians 11:23-27 – Paul lists the times he has suffered
Paul knows what it meant to live in times of challenge, difficulty, and disaster. Yet, he still instructs us to give thanks for everything. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4) “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:11-13)
The reason Paul could find contentment in all circumstances was that his happiness did not depend on his outward circumstances. Some people are not happy unless outward circumstances conform to their wants and desires. They work hard to manipulate and control things (and people) around them to attempt to create circumstances that make them happy. They become helpless victims to the unpredictable surprises of life. Life happens!
Paul’s happiness depended on something he could not control or manipulate, but could only dare to trust – God’s faithfulness. So whether the circumstances were good or bad, God was still faithful. Paul could continue to trust, to give thanks, to rejoice. And because God was in the center of Paul’s attention, more often than not those tragic circumstances turned into unexpected blessings. The night in a Philippian jail led to the conversion of the jailer. The riot in Jerusalem gave opportunity for Paul to witness to people of significant power. The storm and shipwreck transported Paul to Rome more quickly than if it had been a safe journey.
God not only works in spite of catastrophe, but sometimes because of and through catastrophe.
Questions to Ponder:
1. Have I faced any difficulties in the past that have turned out to be blessings?
2. Am I facing any difficulties now that are blocking my light – my relationship with God?
3. How can I daily “tune” in my attention to the presence and power of God in my life?
1. Compose a timeline of your spiritual journey. Mark on the timeline moments of significant testing and tragedy. Then note seasons of significant growth and maturity. Is there a connection?