Time is a funny thing. The way it passes so quickly and, yet, drags on and on. When you’re in a dark season of life, time can seem to stand still. It doesn’t, of course. A minute is only ever sixty seconds, and days are always twenty-four hours, but suffering changes our perception of reality. Maybe that is part of the point.
Today marks an anniversary of our family’s experience with post-infectious autoimmune encephalitis (often referred to as PANDAS or PANS). An infection such as strep, mycoplasma pneumonia, influenza, Lyme, etc., causes a misdirected immune response in a child leading to an attack on the brain which causes inflammation.
Symptoms such as OCD, restrictive eating, anxiety, tics, irritability, aggression, oppositional behaviors, a decline in school abilities, developmental regression, sensory sensitivity, motor abnormalities, emotional lability, depression, and hyperactivity can appear overnight and can be severe causing a child great difficulty and even incredible suffering.
Thankfully, that season is in the past. We are no longer in that dark place, but an anniversary always invites one to pause and reflect. That’s where I find myself this morning: pausing and reflecting.
Dark seasons walked with God bring new understanding and insight. There were many truths God drove home to me at that time and many scriptures that became personal and life-giving in deeper, more meaningful ways than ever before. One lesson that stands out today is the difference between shakeable things and unshakeable things.
Shakeable things can crumble when the storms of life hit. In this life, there are lots of shakeable things: health, relationships, financial security, careers, comfort, positions, plans, even our physical lives. We aren’t guaranteed we won’t experience the loss of shakeable things and are warned against putting our identity, security, and hope in them.
When life gets to rattling, they quickly falter. There was a whole lot of rattling in that season we experienced and, believe me, there was a whole lot of faltering. I had put a lot of stock in shakeable things without realizing it.
Do you remember the childhood Sunday School song based on a parable of Jesus about the foolish man who built his house upon the sand? That song has been in my head and I’ve been thinking a lot about that parable. When the rains came down, so did the foolish man’s house, because the foundation he built on was faulty (Matthew 7:24-27). Shakeable things weren’t meant to be the foundation of our lives or the anchor for our affections.
In Christ, there are unshakeable things. Not one of these unshakeable things can be lost because He is the guarantor. When storms hit, these things remain firm. We can cling to them. Things such as:
- the forgiveness of our sins (1 John 1:9)
- our right standing with God (Romans 5:1)
- His steadfast love for us (Romans 8:35-39)
- His faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:13)
- His presence (Hebrews 13:5)
- His peace (John 14:27)
- His comfort (2 Corinthians 1:4)
- His promise that He will work all things for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28)
- the heavenly home He is preparing for us (John 14:3)
- a bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
- future glory as co-heirs with Christ enjoying Him forever. (Romans 8:17)
When suffering causes time to stand still, it is good to know that Jesus stands with us. He transcends time, He rules over time, but He also entered time, taking on human flesh, to defeat sin, suffering, and death for those who love Him and place their faith in Him. He is our unshakeable hope and all He has promised.
And here is the really great part: all that is shaken in this life will one day be restored, all that is broken will one day be made new, all that is lost will be one day be redeemed (Revelation 21:3-5). The pain, the suffering, the disappointments, the deaths in this life are real, but, praise God, they are not ultimate! Christ is ultimate!
While we live in a shakeable world, we can hold fast to God’s unshakeable presence, love, faithfulness, and promises guaranteed us by the finished work of Jesus Christ, knowing that one day all that was lost will be restored never to be shaken again.
As Jesus’ parable continues, and the childhood song, the wise man built his house upon the Rock and when the rains came down, it stood firm. Christ is that rock. He is the foundation for our lives and the anchor for our affections.
In this shakeable world, build your life on the unshakeable Rock, anchor your mind on God’s promises, wrap your heart in His steadfast love, and when the rains come down, your life will stand firm, not because you’re strong enough to hold firm to Christ, but because He is strong enough to hold you firm.
We may be afflicted in every way, but we are not crushed.
We may be perplexed, but we are not driven to despair.
We may be persecuted, but we are not forsaken.
We may be struck down, but we are not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-18)
We may be mere jars of clay, but our weakness more greatly proves the surpassing power of the treasure in us.
I still struggle with fear and insecurity left over from that dark season, but, oh, how I want to be like the wise man and how I want to teach my children to build their lives wisely! I want my fear and insecurity to drive me deeper and deeper into the Rock that cannot be moved. Because of Jesus, we do not have to lose heart today; because of Jesus, we have hope that, whatever storms we must endure, the best is yet to come.
“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.” Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering
And, my friends, I can taste it.