Trouble Ahead

This past week seems to have brought news about a number of good people who have been diagnosed with cancer or another life threatening illness. I’m sure many of them are thinking, “why me?” In these circumstances, I can’t help but think about all of the people that I saw on their last day here on earth during my career. Some of them were expecting to die, others we saved because it wasn’t their time and for many others, they had no idea it was their last day. The old saying, “if you knew today was your last day, what would you do?” comes to mind. Personally, I don’t want to think about it, so we will move on.

I’m left to wonder, like so many others, why do bad things happen to good people? The guy who kills an entire family, including small children, gets life in prison but the faithful Christian woman who has spent her life serving others has only weeks to live following a cancer diagnosis. It doesn’t seem fair. Daily, we see examples of where life’s circumstances don’t seem fair and rotten people appear to get off “scot-free” in comparison. I would offer that “fair” is in the eye of the beholder. The concept of “fair” is found in the human condition of “keeping up with the Jones”. Life is about being content. You have what you have and that is okay. There will always be people who have more than you but there are also people who have less than you – in everything. Be content and in that moment, I bet you will find happiness. What if today was your last, do you want to happy and content or miserable and jealous? You can choose.

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” Psalm 34:19

We find in a number of places throughout the bible that God never promises a trouble free life. I’ve written about this before and can go on about God’s plan for your life. This week I want to focus on the verse – “The righteous person may have many troubles”. If you believe that the bible is the word of God, given to us by Him, then you may also see how this is God telling us – “there will be troubles in your life”. According to this verse, some of us will have more troubles than others (many troubles). There is no avoiding it; we will have troubles. To what degree is left to God; just remember Job. God does not punish us with troubles, He uses them to prepare us for future opportunities or He uses us to prepare those around us.

The second half of this verse is critical to our Christian faith; “the Lord delivers him from them all”. This is our assurance that God will not abandon us in our time of need (or any other time). No matter what we face, God will deliver us from our troubles. Our human nature however, does not understand God’s time frame. We are not assured that He will deliver us immediately or to our satisfaction but He will deliver us. If today is your last day, you can be assured that God will deliver you eternal life because of your belief in Jesus Christ as your savior. If today is just another worry filled day on earth, rejoice in the fact that you are still here and that God is going to deliver you from all your worries. Keep sharing and believing in God’s power and rest easy knowing that Jesus has prepared the way for you. You just need to be content with the life you have.

I’ve got mine…

Look what I did! I am so awesome! Have you heard or even said these words? I once saw a plaque that read, “I know I’m not perfect but I’m so close that it scares me”. We often hear people expressing their confidence in very strong ways. What about the people who lack that type of self-confidence? Is there something wrong with them? Who wouldn’t be proud of what they’ve done? I would suggest that it may not be the lack of confidence or them having no pride in their accomplishments but it may be that they are simply too humble to talk about themselves. Humility is a God given talent and should be practiced but in today’s world it is seen as a sign of weakness. The opposite of humility is boasting and those people are even harder to deal with. We all know someone who is always right and identifies how others have “screwed up” without ever considering their own role in the situation. They make everyone around them miserable because all they do is point how they have done no wrong. Related to this is the widening of the income gap and the growing, “I’ve got mine, too bad about yours” mentality. I’ve heard several people this week complain about school taxes because they don’t have any kids in the system so why should they pay school property taxes. They got their kids through school with the help of others but don’t think that they should take their turn. This selfish mentality is driving our world apart; we’ve forgotten about caring for each other. We need to keep watch over each other, we’re all we’ve got. I’ve got a picture frame on my desk that says, “It won’t matter what my bank balance was, the size house I lived in, or the type of car that I drove but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” If we swap “life of a child” and make it “the life of another human being” and get a little closer to God’s will. Go make a difference in someone’s life.

8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD, for whose sake I have lost all things.9…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. Philippians 3:8-9

Paul had everything in his life that he could want. He was considered a great man and was feared by many. He was a righteous man under the law as a Pharisee; he told others what to do and people obeyed him. Paul gave up everything (even his name) to follow Jesus when he came face to face with Him. Jesus showed him the way to everlasting life and he spent years in prison writing and telling of the good news. He’d lost everything and yet was grateful for his faith in Jesus Christ. He realized that he was nothing without faith in Jesus and the righteousness that comes from God. Paul was humble, steadfast in his faith, shared the good news whenever he could, encouraged others with his letters and remained focused on what God wanted him to do. The power, the social status, the envy and the confidence that he had before, he considered a loss now that he has the knowledge of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Everything that we have is lost too, if we don’t have the same faith in our savior Jesus Christ. Share the good news about having eternal life through faith in Him and all that God has done for you. You will make a difference in the life of another human being.

Transformation

Transformation is a process that doesn’t always have to be driven from the top down. It can be driven from inside the organization or from outside of it. We all react differently to change or transformation. Being willing to openly explore new ideas and to generate new possibilities is innovation. Transformation occurs differently for everyone but each employee must be part of any change process. Employees and leaders alike must be willing to accept more than one right answer and should be willing to ask “why not” instead of having to justify why. The workplace is rapidly changing and transforming, as is the workforce. A whole new generation of employees are entering our places of work each day and as they do, they are beginning to transform it. For long-time employees it’s disruptive, for some leaders it’s more work and for some organizations it’s an infusion of innovative ideas. Do you know where you fall in this spectrum and how you are reacting to it? Transformation can be scary and is definitely stressful. If we think of all the great things that we have access to today and remember that they were a result of a transformation, we can begin to see the possibilities of the future. Sure, a change to the process that you’ve been doing for years isn’t exciting but it’s part of a greater picture and that can be exciting. Change can be good; you never know where it can lead.

7But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7 

Jesus had to initiate change with His disciples in the days leading to His arrest. He was creating a vision of the future for them. He was giving direction and encouraging them to carry on the mission even if He was no longer with them. He told them what to look forward to and how important their work was. Imagine this group of men with no sense of what he was saying and not fully understanding that He knew what was about to happen. They kept asking for explanation after explanation when He finally said today’s verse. He was essentially telling them “trust me, this is a good thing”. They were scared, it was stressful and they all reacted differently. They even struggled to see the future – sound familiar? Jesus was telling them that after me, something even greater is coming – the advocate or Holy Spirit will come to them and make them even better than they can ever imagine. Sure, you’ll be persecuted he tells them later in John but your reward is in everlasting life. No amount of change or fear can prepare us for that but we can be assured that in the words of the Bible, God is telling us about the transformation we will see that is not of this world. Continue to read, re-read and study the Words given to us by God himself and you will continue to transform yourself as God is transforming the world around us.