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Sudden Changes

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Often I write to prove some point, to teach some truth, to present an argument, to clarify some doctrinal position.


I don't know if I actually succeed at it or not, but I also want to call people into action. Always inviting us all to move forward.


Today I follow a different path.


Today I write from an emotional place of sadness. I write with a sense of confusion.


I do not deny the truth. I do not even question it, really. I believe it.


But I do recognize that even when we can and do understand the why's and wherefore's of life, that doesn't always help alleviate our pain or help us to feel better.


Change can come so suddenly. Good changes, or bad ones.


However, it seems that most good changes come slowly and only with great effort, intentionality, and much sacrifice.


The bad changes tend to come quickly, unexpectedly, and with devastating impacts.


Today we received word that a friend from-days-gone-by has died suddenly at the age of 46. He leaves a mourning wife and fatherless children.


Last week we had friends who were injured significantly in an automobile accident (the vehicle was totaled) while they were away on vacation.


Before that it was this person and that who needs to have joint replacements surgeries.


Before that it was one friend and another family member diagnosed with cancer.


House fires. Bankruptcies. Cancer. Loss of job. Marital problems. Attempted suicide.


And, life is never the same. At least for those closest to those epicenters of disruption, "normal" is gone in the blink of an eye.


Now this one has to rear her children alone.


Now that one has to move, find a new job, buy a different house, etc.


These sudden changes are traumatic.


Here you might expect a list of 3 things to do when trouble comes, or 5 things to say to people who are suffering.


Those strategies of attempting to help surely have their place. But so does simple lamentation. And today I refuse to even follow the temptation to defend the true nobility of lament.


It is fitting that we weep. We must mourn. We must pour out our complaint to God. We must cry out for mercy. And, we must wonder why.


Why? Why?


Why!


The voice of Christ on the cross echos back and forth off the stone walls of my mind, "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?"


The words of the psalmist rests on my lips, "Why are You so far from helping us?"


I may even actually know why. Or at least have a good and reasonable hunch. But does it matter?


When the heart is bleeding out and the stomach is running out of vigor, how we came to be in this state is not the first concern. The primary need is to somehow stop the bleeding; to preserve the life.


We can analyze and evaluate later.


Just get a tourniquet on this thing, and maybe some spiritual morphine.


On and on...


Pregnancies end in miscarriage.


Children are born with deformities and disabilities.


Young men die in battle.


And lives are never the same. The sudden changes change reality. Hope seems to leap away from us. Perhaps it was once just within our grasp. Now it feels like it's hiding somewhere behind the most distant star.


Frustration. Anxiety. Misery. Loneliness. Despair.


Those are very nearly friends and companions compared to their evil cousins: bitterness, anger, regret, hatred, and defiance.


Sudden changes often make us hypersensitive at first, but eventually those same changes may render us calloused and nearly (or altogether) numb.


We're coping, right? We learn to deal with our pain and somehow function anyway. But we may also learn to protect ourselves from future pain. Or at least attempt such nonsense.


"If I can avoid caring, then I can avoid hurting." We imagine.


Foolishness. Futility.


Sudden change is coming. Prepare all you will. Another unanticipated change will surely come instead. The carnage will be strewn about. Things will be lost forever.


We will attempt to survive. To rebuild. Or not.


Some don't.


Some quit. And THAT sudden change only brings even greater and more radical changes that have to be faced. And life is NOT better. The world is NOT a better place. It's worse. And the selfish rebel has contributed to the chaos.


Stability? Predictability? Safety? Comfort?


Illusions. Mirages. Bait in the trap.


We strive. We fail. We suffer. We lose. We die. We are forgotten. Or worse, we were never known.


"Ah, cheer up," you say? "It's not all that bad."


No?


I say it's worse. At least for most people, it's worse.


And Solomon agrees with me.


Sudden change? Even with our true hope and sure confidence (as Christians) in the next life and the goodness of our Savior, these changes bring sorrow.


We all sorrow. Unless you're just not paying attention.


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