Advent Devotional Day 28: “Life Is Like That”

December 28, 2018

During the month of December, I’ve prepared a series of daily devotionals to help my church get ready for and celebrate Christmas. I created a booklet (if you’d like a copy, let me know), but I’ll also post devotionals each day on my blog.

Devotional Text: Romans 8:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18

In the holiday classic movie A Christmas Story, the family’s Christmas turkey dinner is ruined when the neighbors’ dogs steal the bird from 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.”

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.” We’re told that God has “hemmed us in, behind and before,” and that we are held securely in God’s hand. We’re told that in all things God works for good of those who love him. We’re told that the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient in every circumstance. We’re told that nothing separates us from God’s love.

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?

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