One of the most difficult things that my wife and I have had to do recently is to be involved in the process and decision to put down my father-in-law’s dog. The decision came after the realization that the dog could no longer walk on his own without assistance, and it was causing Dad a great deal of stress and strain from the lifting and moving of the dog from indoors to outdoors, and back again. The dog was suffering from degenerative nerve damage from his spine, and the medication that he was taking was not working anymore. For the first time that I can remember, I saw Dad become emotional because he knew that the dog was suffering and had to go (he couldn’t use the words “put down” himself), and that he was losing his friend and companion of just over 15 years.
Deep down, I knew that we would be involved with Dad managing the health care of his dog this year, and we knew that the end was approaching, but we just didn’t know the exact day or time. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s tough to prepare for it, and knowledge that it will eventually happen doesn’t make it any less emotional or painful.
Each of us has had moments like this one where the inevitable becomes evident, and there is an adjustment process that we must go through during the transition. Life is a series of transitions within groupings of situations and circumstances, and our challenge is successfully navigating through these transitions with steadiness and grace, and not just from our own perspective, but in reflecting a positive demeanor and presence before others. If you are looking at this from a selfless perspective, you will certainly understand the value of living a Christlike existence and as a Christlike example before others who do not know Jesus Christ as a personal Savior.
This message is about developing your ability to deal with the many changes that you will experience throughout your lifetime. With the recognition that not everyone handles change in the same way, or even very well, there are valuable lessons that are embedded within these experiences. It’s up to each of us to recognize them. I will present information to support facts that the more you rely upon God’s perspective through these changes, the more that you will feel His supernatural presence in the midst of the change and the extraordinary ability to see and successfully navigate through these changes with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
So what does this mean for those of us who have a difficult time with change? It’s one thing to be completely surprised and caught off guard with a situation, and it’s another to see it coming, but our responses can be strikingly similar in both instances. Whether you know something is coming or not, we are to draw upon the peace and comfort of Almighty God as we meet these challenges.
I will cover four points about change today. Two of them are obvious to each of us, while the last two are dependent upon the response of the individual. Before exploring these, consider Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Change is rooted within the passage of time.
1 There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
3 a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
6 a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
8 a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
With these verses in mind:
1. Change is inevitable
2. Change is necessary
3. Change is perspective driven
4. Change is an opportunity
First, change is inevitable. Without it, nothing can occur. From the time of God’s creation of the world through the passage of time to the world that we see today, the world has changed.
Long ago You established the earth,
and the heavens are the work of Your hands.
God is the author and orchestrator of all change.
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.
From your own perspective, you have changed physically from the time you were born and through your stages of childhood into adulthood. You have acquired knowledge as a preschooler through kindergarten, elementary and high school and through your job or profession. All of this involved change. Even most importantly, all of these changes had to occur to make you into the person that you are today. The verse that shows the wisdom and value of seeking knowledge speaks for itself.
The mind of the discerning acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks it.
Next, change is necessary. When you are young, you need to grow in knowledge and learn about life in order to function well and survive. Many achievements over time are based upon performance, and require focus and effort in the short and long term. Note the biblical truths that convey this message, especially when it comes to your growth as a believer in Jesus Christ:
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man,
I put aside childish things.
You do not have because you do not ask.
Growing up is a requirement if you plan to be successful, and growing in your relationship with Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary in your spiritual growth. When change occurs, your growth and maturity will equip you with the ability to trust and rely upon the Holy Spirit with confidence.
Stop here for a moment–let’s deal with the reality that many people simply do not like change. What does change represent for those individuals? Change represents a different, and sometimes uncomfortable movement to a place that may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. This has nothing to do with the end result of the change being good or bad for the person…it is the unfamiliarity of the situation that causes the discomfort. This can be a big deal for some because there is a comfort in things that you are familiar with, and that’s even if you don’t necessary like it. What we need to see in this discomfort is not the feeling itself, but the dependence that we truly have for God. This discomfort should spark a desire in us to seek God in prayer, for direction, for peace in our discomfort, and–most importantly, trusting Him in the results through faith.
1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. 2 For our ancestors won God’s approval by it.
20 He (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, 24 but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we live by faith, and not by sight.
This is where change, whether it is positive or negative, is all about your perspective.
If you are unable to reconcile with the reality of change and its inevitability, you may get stuck in the moment without seeing the blessings that occur during and after the change. I can’t stress enough that in moments where change is taking place, and there is movement from one situation or circumstance to the next, the believer in Jesus Christ must continually seek God in the process beyond the mere change to receive the full effects and the benefits of God’s place and position in the midst of the development. Ask God to show you, in the midst of change, what He wants to you to see in it instead of focusing only on your own perspective.
18 The Lord is near all who call out to Him,
all who call out to Him with integrity.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry for help and saves them.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
Our responsibility in the change we experience is to remain loyal and faithful to God, and He will make known His presence in all things.
Mankind, He has told you what is good
and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
To recap, we acknowledge that change is inevitable, it’s necessary, and it is perspective-driven. Now let’s explore the opportunity that is in the midst of change. With change, there is the opportunity to see things from a new perspective that you would not have observed without change, including how you see others that are also part of the change that you are experiencing. This can lead to opportunities for discussion as to how God has been in the midst of everything that has occurred.
In Acts, chapter 8, Philip listened to the direction of the Spirit and spoke to the Ethiopian about the Scriptures he was reading as to their meaning, and he was able to use the opportunity of that moment to lead the Ethiopian to Jesus Christ. The key points here are not just the conversion, but how Philip was listening to the Spirit and his availability to hear the Spirit’s direction. Don’t miss the lesson of hearing the Spirit speaking to you during change. It may not necessarily lead to converting someone to Christ, but it does mean that God will show, in your obedience to His Word, how you can be viewed as a person. Your greatest attributes will shine as you remain faithful to God. Your words of encouragement and affirmation will be well received, and it lays the groundwork for a opportunities to witness, both in the short and long term. This is all the more reason that we, as believers, need to be ready for those very moments.
1 Peter 3:15-16
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
To summarize, change is constant and inevitable, and it can be good or not very good for the person who is going through it; however, it is not to be feared or dreaded. Your perspective of change goes a long way in your ability to manage it, and it starts with seeing the change through God’s perspective. If you trust in Him completely, He will show you where you need to go and provide you with what you need to grow, learn and endure the experience. He will also show you how you can be a positive testimony for Him before others.