Facing Sudden and Unpredictable Events
If you are like me, you love routine and despise the times when the routine is gone. I savor predictability because it provides me with a certain sense of control. Yet within the predictability of life resides a dangerous potential, a routineness that is ripe for lacking trust and dependence on the Lord.
The Scriptures offer many examples of individuals who became comfortable in the normalcy of life until a sudden twist interrupted their lives. What appears sudden can overwhelm the individual to the point of anger, bitterness, or depression. All of a sudden, doubts arise, and multiple questions whirl in their heads. Why did God allow that to happen to me? Where was God when this unexpected event hit? What did I do wrong that God is punishing me?
The reality for all of us is that life, no matter how stable it may appear, is not something we ever control. Life will always take on sudden twists or become very unpredictable, and we will be forced to face the questions of whether God knows, cares, or is at work during the event.
I want to draw our attention to two main characters in the Bible - Noah and Job - who suddenly faced an unpredictable event in their lives, and explore what we can learn regarding the gracious hand and work of the Lord.
The first character was Noah. Although life was somewhat predictable for his first five hundred years, it did not remain predictable in his next one hundred. While he and his wife raised three sons, they had no clue what was going on behind the scenes in the mind of God as He saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth.
Think about the message he received from the Lord that interrupted his life, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh” (Genesis 6:13). Talk about a sudden disruption of your calm and peaceful life! Then to learn the Lord was going to destroy the world with a flood (6:17-18), and that Noah and his family were to build a huge boat that would spare them from deathly waters.
Soon the flood came, and just as God promised, “He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground” (7:23). In the middle of it all, did Noah ever wonder if he and his family would survive? The answer and the great insight into learning about God comes in the next statement, “But God remembered Noah” (8:1). We learn in that phrase that God is gracious, able to protect, and powerful to deliver us in the most extreme shifts of life.
Jesus teaches us that we are not to be anxious over anything. He then expresses the basis of that statement with an illustration of how God works even with the most insignificant sparrows. He said, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 6:25-26)
The second character, Job, causes us tension as we seek to make sense of the sudden unpredictableness of his life. If we were to read the book without reading the first two chapters, we would be in the same vantage point as Job’s three friends. Job lost everything, including his health. The only thing not touched was Mrs. Job. Perhaps, we might assume, all were sinful, even Job, but his dear wife was a real saint. I imagine we might view Job the same way as his friends did by asking about the sin in his life.
I was in the emergency room several years ago with a potential blood clot. To my surprise, a believer came into my room and asked me what sin did I commit that caused me to be in the emergency room. It was at that point that I, in a small way, felt what Job felt.
But, Job, rather than stewing on the words of his friends, reflected on his walk with the Lord. Amazingly, after losing all of his material possessions he said, “Naked, I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Then, after losing his health, too, he said, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil” (Job 2:10). His words reveal the humility of a man who knows who he is and trusts who God is, even when his world crumbled around him.
Thankfully, God did speak. He never told Job why He permitted the suffering, He only asked questions to drive Job to the silence from which he then reflected, “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). God is sovereign in all He does, and while He does not always give us reasons for the chaos around us, He does give us confidence in knowing who He is in all of our life.
What We Learn About God
From recounting Noah’s life, we learn that God remembers so we can rest in His care. No wonder Jesus encouraged, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30).
From meditating on Job’s life, we learn that God is sovereign, and whatever may surprise us, we can trust him. As Peter revealed, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19). (See also Romans 8:34-39)
As a believer, Jesus Christ is our Savior, and we now abide in and with Him so that in all things we know that, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:4-5).
The Bottom Line
If you are wrestling with feelings of fear, doubt, or anxiety, I encourage you to take some time to meditate on the following anchors so that you may stand strong during these uncertain times:
- Isaiah 46:10 - God will accomplish his purposes and get the glory
- Psalm 135:5-6 - Whatever the Lord pleases He does
- Proverbs 19:21 - The purposes of the Lord stand above our plans
- Proverbs 16:33 - God controls even the seemingly coincidental