"When the soveriegn spirit within us is true to nature, it stands poised and ready to adjust to every change in circumstance and to seize each new opportunity. It doesn't approach an object with prejudice or preconception, but handles each thing dispassionately before embracing it and, if necessary finds advantage in what opposes it. It is like fire in this regard. Whereas a feeble flame might suffocate under a pile of dry sticks, a robust fire consumes everything it touches. The more objects of any kind heaped on it, the higher it rises, the hotter it burns." Marcus Aurelius
In the past 24 hours life has managed to throw an enormous wrench in to the works of my existence. I am sure if we sat down together we could both talk for hours upon hours about all the ways that life throws us curve balls. Just when you think things are starting to look up, no matter how optimistic you remain, life manages to dump something on you that causes your faith to stumble, your tongue to let loose, and your hope in humanity and your future go right out the door. It happens every day all around us. I read my Facebook posts from friends and family and see that they, too, are enduring hardships and adversity.
My partner does not share the same focused faith that I do. He recognizes the existence of God and is slowly beginning to see the workings of the spirit. But he, like so many of us, are shot down because we seem to just get going and we get knocked back a few feet. It can be very disheartening and discouraging. It becomes more and more difficult to see the Holy through so many UNholy events. I get where he comes from and if I could explain to him in simple, step-by-step terms how it is that I can remain so optimistic…well…I would be a millionaire!
My optimism comes from my hope and trust that I am being cared for in divine ways. I have seen and witnessed the divine in my life so many times that there is just no way I can deny that it is of the Holy. And now as this new obstacle is thrown in front of me, I am called to react to it. I firmly believe that God did not intentionally do this to me but I do believe He allowed it – like a parent allows their child to fall off the bicycle a few times – He allowed this to happen to a) gauge my reaction, b) allow me to watch Him work it out, and c) to see if I allow it to build or break down my faith and trust in the Holy.
The first item, ‘gauge my reaction’: God is eager to see and feel how we react to every circumstance and situation in our life. When teaching piano I would encourage my students to touch and play the keys in several different ways. Obviously there are the loud and soft techniques, but also by changing the angle of the finger ever so slightly. I would have them pull one leg up on to the bench underneath them and play a few keys to see if the feel and sound changes. I would come up with multiple ways for them to experience the act of playing a note on the keyboard in order to allow them to gauge the musical reaction to their command. It truly is a unique learning tool and it teaches the student to become aware of how even the smallest of elemental changes can create a difference in the sound that is produced. In similar fashion, God allows circumstances to happen so that He can gauge how we react. It is a test of our faith and our belief. As long as we hold fast to our faith then God can and will work with every situation. I believe that God says, many times , “this is not what I would have planned for your life but if you give me some time I promise you I will work with it”.
If we are open to this method of faith then we remain open to seeing how God works with it. Here is a prime example from personal experience. In November of 2011 I was apartment hunting. I applied for this beautiful apartment in a high rise building right on Lake Michigan. It was beautiful but my application was denied. I was devastated. I was upset and angry and frustrated but I quickly put my faith to test and waited to see why. I knew there just had to be a divine reason. That was on a Tuesday. That Friday I took my mom to the emergency room whereupon they discovered a very large cancer tumor on her brain. The apartment was too far for me to provide the level of care-giving my mother requires after brain surgery and subsequent treatment. It was a clear indication of divine intervention. I believed that God could work with it and I watched for the signs and they were more than obvious. Even today, as I have encountered this new issue within the last 24 hours, I just know that God is not going to abandon me. There is a divine purpose and I will do my job of coping with this and doing what I can to fix and improve the situation. I know God will be doing His part.
Finally, I believe that God is interested in how we hold up through adversity. This world is full of troubles and situations. The laws of physics and nature are all around us, wreaking havoc all the time. The very nature of humanity causes us to be in turmoil with one another and the constraints and expectations of living in an industrialized nation weigh heavily upon all of us. How we react to it speaks loudly of our character. It has been said that the true nature of a man is in his reaction to circumstances. A defeatist attitude will only bring you more defeat. A pessimistic attitude will not yield optimism.
Be real as you experience negative situations. Let God know you feel anger and resentment. Let God know that it may take a little while before you can fully trust that He is in control but let Him know you are trying; in and through the limitations of your humanity, you are trying to see God in all things.
The sending of Jesus to earth was a brilliant business move on God’s behalf. Not meaning to make light of this incredible, divine gift – but think about this: Jesus is our advocate to God the Father. When we bring our prayers to the feet of Christ, Christ then brings our needs to His father. He brings them to Him with the experience of being human. Christ knows what it is like to have a human heart and mind. He knows humanity. What better advocate than Christ?
Advocate…attorney…coach…supporter…get the idea? He is on your side! Christ knows what it’s like to feel betrayed. He knows what it’s like to have your plans disrupted. Christ knows what it’s like to lose a friend to death. He knows how deeply it hurts to have a friend, a loved-one, betray you. He knows what it is like to be hungry and thirsty. He knows what humiliation and total rejection feels like. He knows what you experience and now He advocates on your behalf to God the Father. Don’t take this gift too lightly. If you need someone to rally for you with God you need look no further than the only one who truly knows both sides.
Take time to process your reaction to circumstances and situations but also focus on the reality that Christ has your back. Thank God for all things and thank God for working it out. And then watch and be amazed, once again, at the amazing way that God works with it. You may need to give Him time but even now, God is putting the necessary pieces in to play so that you can witness a moment of the divine in your life.