A friend of mine lost his father very suddenly this last week.
Another friend is struggling to stay afloat after a car accident last summer brought towering bills and dependence on a chiropractor.
Even sitting down in a chair that can’t support your weight can bring on sudden suffering like nothing you’ve ever known…debilitating pain to wake up to every morning, endless second opinion, flummoxed doctors.
Someone once said something to the effect of, “It’s not the old familiar fears that end up coming true…it’s the ones that come with a phone call at 2:00 on a Thursday morning, the ones you never saw coming.”
How do we live like this?
I certainly don’t want to live paranoid. I don’t want to live life looking over my shoulder.
Yet these stories remind me of the uncertainty of life, and the certainty of death. They remind me tomorrow is not guaranteed. They remind me that God’s ways – whether you believe he directly causes all things or whether he causes some and allows others – are rockier and more elusive than we’d care to admit.
So how do we live knowing that each and every day could bring about the end of our lives as we know them?
Am I pretentious to make a list? Eh, I’m in the mood anyway. Besides, I was a teacher.
1. Give thanks.
I once read this thought: “What if God were to remove from your life everything for which you didn’t give thanks today?”
I found myself on my knees in gratitude quite a bit that day.
2. Recognize our crisis of eternity.
We’re not the only ones whose life could change with a snap of the fingers. If others are just as vulnerable to the ravages of this life, we should be racing to tell them of Jesus. We should probably be a lot bolder, and a lot less cripplingly worried about picking the wrong people, offending sensibilities, or incurring the wrath of employers. It is a crisis that so many people around us are sitting right on the brink of eternity without God as they put their noses to the grindstone. We should live accordingly.
3. Make up our minds.
When we run into temptations, trials, or discouragements, one of the most influential factors that decides how well we weather them is how prepared we were.
A hurricane comes; your preparation will decide a lot. Your hunting trip goes awry; the maps, equipment, and orienteering experience you carry will determine whether you get home. The final exam comes; I needn’t tell you what you should have been doing to prepare for that.
On the other hand…fail to prepare, and you’ve prepared to fail, as the saying goes.
In the same way, we should prepare for the unexpected. My friend, having lost his father, is mourning. But he has three decades of experience walking in Christ’s kingdom, learning his ways, memorizing his truths. I know, just from the one text I received back from him, that he was as ready for this – this most painful loss – as he could have been. He knows his father is with God.
May we all have such reassurance.
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