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Monday, February 4, 2013

Preparing Our Hearts for Disaster

The boy scout motto gets a lot of recitals in my house. "Be prepared," seems like good advice, but sometimes it's just impossible.  How can you "be prepared" for a sudden death of a family member or friend?  How can you "be prepared" for someone's seemingly random act of cruelty against you?  Even in the case of natural disasters and financial crises, can you ever "be prepared" enough?

I really don't think there is a way to emotionally brace for impact when it comes to the sudden upsets life seems to have in store.  They will hurt.  There will be tears shed, and sleepless nights, and a dull ache that you carry around in your heart all day.  I wish I could say there was a way to avoid pain, but I just haven't found it yet.

However, there is a way to "be prepared" to cope with pain, and recover from it. You have to prepare your heart in advance, so when disaster comes, at least you know how to survive.  If you don't prepare, you won't have much to fall back on. You might even fumble around and cope with pain in ways that only deepen it. It is much better by far to have a few things set in your mind that don't change, no matter what comes.
  1. Make Jesus Lord of your life.  If you have chosen to follow Christ, it may seem strange to get this advice, but if you haven't made Jesus "Lord," that is, the boss, when you find yourself under crushing pressure, you will be tempted to handle things your own way instead of the godly way.  The Bible says, "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death," (Proverbs 14: 12 NIV), but in another place, it says, "Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living," (Psalm 116: 7-9 NIV). Choose to follow Christ, no matter where He takes you, and you will make it through okay.
  2. Choose to find true comfort in Christ.  Whether it is food, friends and family, or vices, there are many ways to find comfort in this world, but when those things are suddenly ripped away, what then?  Find comfort in Christ. Tell Him about your burdens and He will help you get through it, because He's not some kind of imaginary friend.  He's real, He hears you, and He will take action, either dealing with the problems or counseling and comforting you as you go through them.  The Bible says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you," (1 Peter 5:7 NIV), and in another place, "He [the Lord] will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure," (Isaiah 33: 6 NIV).
  3. Entrust all you have to Christ. It is beyond your power to save and protect the people and things you love most, and somewhere in the back of your mind, you probably know it.  That doesn't mean that relinquishing that sense of control and giving it up to God is going to be easy. However, it is what God requires of us.  He wants us to let Him be God, while we settle down to being the sheep of His pasture.  He wants us to trust Him, instead of only trusting ourselves.  It may not make pain and loss easier to understand, but there is less pain in knowing that God is taking care of us, and everything we care about.  I will remind you of Jesus' own words: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," (Matthew 6: 19-21 NIV).
This is, of course, has been a short list of how to "be prepared" for hard times. If you have anything more to add, you're welcome to do so in the comments section.  Scripture references would be especially helpful as an encouragement for other readers.  I look forward to hearing from you!