There are some days you just cannot anticipate. Days where “all hell breaks loose” and you are left …….
No one can feel adequately prepared for such intense seasons but nevertheless, we still experience them and somehow, we have to learn how to process them.
How does one process devastation?
That’s what comes to mind when you hear of sudden, tragic news. It can come from a doctor, a spouse, a news outlet, a boss, a judge, a police officer, a government official, a financial planner, or a family member. The list is long for who or what can totally turn your world upside down.
It is shocking how life can turn tragic in the blink of an eye. I wonder if that is what went through Peter’s mind in Acts 12:1-5 AMP.
Now at that time Herod [Agrippa I] the king [of the Jews] arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to harm them. 2 And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword; 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to have Peter arrested as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread [the Passover week]. 4 When he had seized Peter, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him [in rotation throughout the night], planning after the Passover to bring him out before the people [for execution]. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church.
The gospel was spreading, the church was growing, the Spirit was moving, and then this. Suddenly, nothing at all was what it was. James was dead, Peter was slated to be next, and who knows how many more would suffer the same fate. Wickedness seemed determined to have its way.
So what can we rely upon when tragedy erupts?
3 facts remain-
- There IS a plan.
- There ARE limits.
- There IS help.
Thankfully, no matter how bad it gets, there is an overall sovereign plan in place that cannot be thwarted. Even when circumstances may feel out of control, there is ALWAYS One who never ceases to govern.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.Psalm 33:11 NIV
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
It is times like this that remind us of what God has NOT said. He never told us bad things wouldn’t happen here on earth. What He did say was that He would limit their outcome.
A person’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. Job 14:5
The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster. Proverbs 16:4
If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. Mark 13:20
Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
propose your plan, but it will not stand,
for God is with us. Isaiah 8:10
Even more than a sovereign plan in place and limits to what we may suffer this side of heaven, we can expect extraordinary help in the midst of wickedness or tragedy. This will come in 2 forms- God’s supremacy or His sufficiency.The 3 facts we can rely upon when our world turns upside down! There IS a plan. There ARE limits. There IS help. Here's how! Click To Tweet
I came to this hope-filled conclusion several years ago when I was experiencing anguish over some family matters. Feeling at the end of my abilities to bear up under the strain, as well as feeling totally helpless to do anything about it, I finally realized that either God was going to get me through it all or He was going to take me home (to heaven). There were no other options.
What a glorious moment that was! I was free to rest in His Omnipotent hands!
No matter what was going to happen, I could be certain that He would help, one way or another.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.2 Samuel 22:18
What should our plan of response be?
Because of these wonderful facts, we are never hopeless. Rather, we have 4 powerful ways to respond even if we feel helpless against devastating circumstances. These lessons reflect what the early church did for Peter as he sat in prison.
…fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church. v5
4 ways to respond-
- Trust God’s Sovereignty
- Pray continually and fervently
- Gather in community
- Expect God to respond
They didn’t know what God was going to do, but they were nonetheless asking Him to do something! Thereby, as one collective voice, they expected NOTHING LESS than His Supremacy or His Sufficiency. And that is what they received whether by the grace to grieve the execution of James or the power to save Peter from the same outcome.
When we utilize the lessons God gives us from His Word, we are able to process those moments when our world turns upside down and it feels like all hell has broken loose. The Bible tells us we are more than victims reeling from heartache. We are conquerors through Jesus Christ. We learn firsthand that God’s promises are true, which makes us all the more secure in this unpredictable world we live in.
Just as the church saw God respond on Peter’s behalf, so did we over the angst in our family’s life. Given time, God does amazing things. Sometimes it is through miraculous intervention and other times it is through super-natural fortitude to make it through what seems unbearable.
I can testify that we were ALWAYS surrounded by His love and faithfulness. And friend, so are you.