When we are troubled, a variety of emotional responses may spring up.
√ We can become discouraged and lose hope.
√ Turbulence can make us numb to our emotions and relationships.
√ We may choose to insulate or isolate ourselves.
√ We can become angry, skewing our perspective.
When someone hurts us deeply or we are disappointed in ourselves, or when we are so sure God will show up but He doesn’t appear to do so, we become vulnerable to disillusion, anger, and retaliation.
Hebrews 12:12-17 provides some action strategies which may help us reach out to others who are experiencing turbulence – or helping us personally in our own conflictedness.
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are out of joint, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is weak may not continue in pain but rather be healed.”
√ There are times in all our lives when we are in a weakened condition physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. There are things we can do for others who are suffering seriously and are experiencing weakness. When we observe weak hands struggling to do what is needed, we can step in and help shoulder their weight. When there is any kind of pain keeping a person from standing upright, we can come alongside and steady them. We choose straight paths ourselves so that by example and encouragement we can invite those who are suffering to join us on the straight path as well. This is a really encouraging way to bless someone who is struggling.
Jesus said peacemakers are blessed and will inherit the earth. Reasoning with and helping people find peace is close to the heart of God. Perhaps such peace applies as much to inward conflict as outward turbulence.
“Pursue living in peace with all men, and take care to engage God’s heart-purifying process – this helps us see our Lord.”
“See to it that no one comes short of God’s grace and that no root of bitterness springs up and causes even deeper trouble for ourselves and the people around us. Make sure not to be or associate with an immoral or godless person…”
√ Bitterness is a hungry wolf that devours the soul. To feel we are not blessed (or to have had our inheritance stolen) is a deeply distressing burden. We can come beside those who are hurt and stand with them to strengthen their faint hearts and then pray for release from bitterness and for healing of deep hurts.
What is the recipe for intense challenges in life?
James 5:13-18 is helpful
“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he should call for the elders of the church to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayers offered in faith will restore the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up. If he or she is suffering from sins committed, they will be forgiven him.” What?
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a limited nature just like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. When he prayed again the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” Really?
There is so much we can do to help others navigate turbulence and imperfection, and God invites us to engage this process with those we love – and with whom we share life.
King David is one of the foremost examples of a human king experiencing God’s favor and grace. Through the ups and downs of His imperfect life one thing is clear: his heart always returned to God and he recovered from weakness very swiftly. He knew to pour out his heart to God about his turbulence and misery and the things for which he was grateful. As you read the upcoming passage ask yourself “why and how did God bless this king?” Here is a great chance to get to know David better, and to learn from his relationship with his heavenly Father. It provides a poignant entry into the gritty and beautiful Psalms, many of which were written by David.
Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD saying “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my life, that You have blessed me so much? And You have spoken also of the lasting dynasty of Your servant in the distant future. O Lord God You give life beyond this life and into the one to come!” What is David telling us about his heart and concerning his future which will exceed his mortal life? How does he know this?
“Again, what more can I say to You that you do not know? You know me, O Lord God! For the sake of Your word and according to Your own heart You have done all these great things to reveal Yourself to Your servant. You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, we have heard with our own ears.” These are David’s conclusions because his trials have led him deeper in God, though his kingly and human impulses could easily have derailed his heart.
“And what nation on the earth is like Your people Israel whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people. He has chosen through us to make a name for Himself and to accomplish great things for You and awesome things for Your land. You redeemed us from the bondage of Egypt as well as other nations and their gods. You have established for Yourself Your people Israel to be Your own forever, and You, O LORD, have become their God.” (How does David feel about his identity as a Jewish king? As a son of God Most High?)
“Now therefore, O Lord God, the word You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, please confirm it forever and do as You have spoken, that Your name may be magnified forever. The LORD of hosts is God over Israel; and may the house of Your servant David be established before You.” (David is asking for meaning beyond this life.)
“For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have revealed to me that I will build you a house. This gives me the courage to pray this prayer to You. O Lord God, You are God and Your words are truth and You have promised this good thing to Your servant. Please bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. For You, O Lord God, have spoken; and with Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever.”
– From 2 Samuel 7:18-29 (David appeared to have found deep security in God.)
√ This is a seriously powerful example of looking to God for help and restoration. David was hated unjustly by many people including his own wife. He lost his kingdom to a rebellious son. David made significant life mistakes which contributed to his own troubles. However, he came to God and courageously exchanged his turbulence and imperfection for God’s favor. David humbled himself when he was confronted about his shortcomings. God noticed. God forgave and blessed. This gives me great hope.
Elijah the Prophet was designated by God to do some very difficult things. His harsh and truthful words to kings and leaders cost him considerably. He made enemies not because he treated people badly, but because powerful people didn’t want to hear what God had to say through him. If only he had played the game of kings, his life would have looked much different.
Imagine Elijah, nearly at the end of his earthly mission and worn out with the job of being God’s mouthpiece. He was in such despair that he headed out to the desert to die (intense). The turbulence of his life had overtaken his soul, and the imperfection of his circumstances buried him in despair. Take time to place yourself into this story. It can be good for your heart. – 1 Kings 19:1-19
√ Elijah was honest with God and with himself. He had done everything God had asked him to do, and he was rewarded with burnout. When we are engaged with those around us and are fulfilling who we were meant to be, it can require an enormous amount of stamina and energy. Elijah had been faithful despite intense turbulence – much personally directed toward him. God heard his prayers, and he is now allowed an exit few men will experience. Can you imagine instead of a death like all men you were transported to heaven in a fiery chariot?! Nice.
As we weigh some of the aspects of looking to God in turbulence we can keep perspective, and, hopefully, live beyond mere human capacities. When added to our sincere commitment to walk with others who are looking up, we are standing within the Kingdom of heaven, friends!
CONCLUSIONS ON TURBULENCE & IMPERFECTION:
√ Chaos and order exist together.
√ Imperfection is everywhere.
√ Turbulence is our personal connection to suffering.
√ Story is where God is producing glory.
√ Transcendence connects us with God’s thoughts and ways.
√ A Clear Conscience is God’s offer of freedom.
√ Finding True North is our compass for joyful arrival.
√ Hope is our anchor to what really matters.
√ Arrival is the great Reward.
We are deeply sorry for any suffering you have experienced in your journey, and we are hopeful in God that some of these words have helped you gain some perspective and not feel so alone in your story.
Truly your suffering and ours have not and will not be in vain. We lift this book and podcast series up to the highway of praise that always flows before the Throne of the Living God! (that’s what Selah means)
Dave and Burnadette
Find all the Turbulence podcasts here