Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
January 15, 2012
What to do when the bottom falls out of your world
Calamity happens. It may be of your own making. It may be the result of a natural disaster like a tornado. Or your misfortune may have been caused by other people. But whatever the source of your trouble you must respond to it – unless you have decided to throw in the towel.
So the question before us is this: what is the best way to respond when the bottom falls out of your world? Let’s think this through together.
First, react as wisely as you possibly can. You are in control of your reactions; you cannot control the actions or reactions of others. Be careful that you do not overreact. To do so will usually make matters worse and bring on later the pain of regret.
Second, to react wisely may require that step back from your trouble and ask yourself some hard questions: Am I responsible for the trouble I am in? Am I at fault? If your trouble is mostly of your own making, then repent and seek forgiveness. If forgiveness is not forthcoming, at least you tried. The process of repentance and forgiveness includes forgiving yourself. All of us make mistakes; no one is perfect. Jesus gave us no beatitude that says, “Blessed are those who despise themselves.” Self-despising is a dead-end street.
Third, take the initiative to make things right with anyone you may have offended or wronged. Now and then someone may not forgive you; their reaction is out of your control. But at least, ask for forgiveness. Until you do that you will not be able to move on with your life.
Fourth, if you are angry at someone (or yourself) be smart enough to put your anger aside. Anger will not help things get better; it will definitely make things worse. To be angry about our troubles is to be stupid. So do not be stupid. Anger leads us into the blame game; blaming others for our misfortunes is another dead-end street. Blaming someone else is always counter-productive.
Fifth, consider all your options carefully and choose to do the right thing, one step at a time. Do what is right for others; do what is right for you. You are never wrong to do what is right. Respond to your troubles with integrity. You will never be embarrassed for having chosen the pathway of integrity. To do so is to react with honor and truthfulness. Do the honorable thing one day at a time – for the rest of your life.
Sixth, seek the counsel of good friends. Pain can cloud our vision. Friends can help us see the best way to go. You must make your own decisions but you will be wise to test your conclusions with others whose judgment you trust. Good friends will never guide you in the wrong direction.
Seventh, take time to think through your dilemma but beware of procrastination. While you should not rush into important decisions, remember that pain sometimes results in inertia. If that happens you may need to take yourself by the nap of the neck and get back in the game. Nothing good ever comes out of lethargy. Inaction produces no positive change.
Eighth, get on your knees and ask the God who loves you and is always in your corner to give you the grace to face your trouble squarely and then get over it and move on! Life is not over as long as you are still breathing. The God who created you is more ready to help you that you ever dreamed. So let him help you! Choose to believe that God’s plans for you are good! When you decide to love God more than anything else in this world, things and people begin to fall in place in your life.
Ninth, get up every day and remind yourself that the God who guides the sun and the moon in their orbits is willing to guide you into a new life of meaning, joy and peace. He can do it. He will do it – if you ask him! If doubt makes you question this, then do what I do often. I start singing an old song that soon chases my doubts away. It goes like this, “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak, but thou are mighty; hold me with thy powerful hand. Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more; feed me till I want no more.” It works for me!
Tenth, never give up. Never give up on yourself. Never give up on God. Never give up on the wisdom of doing the right thing again and again. Never give up on the future. Never give up on your potential. Never give up on your power to make lemonade with your lemons. When the bottom falls out a cool glass of lemonade can help you handle the pressure while you decide what to do next.
You are not the first person who had to start over. Wounded people have made new beginnings since the world began. So stop babbling and take charge of your life. And never forget that God is using the pain and trouble of this world to prepare you, and the rest of us, for something better! + + +