“Glory to God in the Highest,” Day 11: Life Is Like That

I recently created a 31-day Advent/Christmas devotional booklet for my church called “Glory to God in the Highest.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and the end of the year. Enjoy!

Scripture: Romans 8:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18

glory_cover_finalIn the holiday classic movie A Christmas Story, the family’s Christmas turkey dinner is ruined when the neighbors’ dogs steal the bird off the kitchen counter. The narrator, a grown-up Ralphie, says, “Life is like that. Sometimes at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”

This was a minor disaster, to be sure. But I love the way the father responds: Despite the fact that Christmas turkey was his favorite part of the holiday, when it was taken away from him, he controls his anger, forces a smile, and tells his family, “Go upstairs. Get dressed. We’re going out to eat.”

The Chinese restaurant where the family has Christmas dinner

If you’re a parent—if you’re a human being in general—you are constantly called upon to rise to the occasion, to deal with adversity, and to handle disasters with equanimity.
So how are you doing at it?

I have a friend who teaches psychology at a university in town. He said that most of our suffering in life comes not from the disaster itself, but how we respond to it. In my experience, I know that’s true.

But my friend is speaking only from a secular perspective. We believers have God’s word. In it, we’re told things like “Rejoice always… give thanks in all things.”[1] We’re told that God has “hemmed us in, behind and before,” and that we are held securely in God’s hand.[2] We’re told that in all things God works for good of those who love him.[3] We’re told that the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient in every circumstance.[4] We’re told that nothing separates us from God’s love.[5]

This means that God has a plan for our lives, and he’s working that plan “when our joy is at its zenith, when all is right with the world, and when disasters, large and small, happen”—and they will. But when they happen, we can say, “Well, this isn’t what I planned or wanted—but I’m not in charge here. I wonder what the Lord is up to? He must have something better for me than I planned.”

God must have something better for me than I planned!

Do we have the faith to stare a disaster in the face and say that?

In my own experience, and in the experience of any number of people I’ve ministered to over the years who’ve survived disasters, God has a way of taking the bad stuff and transforming it into something good. Have you experienced God this way? If so, how can this experience help you the next time disaster strikes?

1. 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18

2. Psalm 139:5, 10

3. Romans 8:28

4. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

5. Romans 8:38-39

3 thoughts on ““Glory to God in the Highest,” Day 11: Life Is Like That”

  1. Well, I have a potential disaster at hand workwise this coming Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in a hearing that I am handling. Hopefully God will avert that result (please pray that he will!); but, if not, I will certainly be in a jam and be wondering what God is up to! Combining this response with the one to your next post, I note that Zechariah was struck moot as part of the bargain, since he did not believe Gabriel. In other words, while God had some ultimately good purpose in mind, Zechariah had to “suffer” for awhile along the way due to his own “misstep.” I cannot deny a “misstep” on my part leading up to this hearing. So, is God going to let me “suffer for awhile”? Hopefully not, but the point is that God’s being in control and having our best interest at heart doesn’t mean we won’t have to “suffer the consequences” along the way.

    1. You’re right. Just last week, I was complaining about something and Lisa said, “Do you believe that God is in control or don’t you?” I said, “I believe God is in control, but I believe he might be punishing me!” I meant that. I really did. But God’s punishments are good for us, too. I will pray for you. I though you already had some kind of hearing… This is different?

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