Where to Turn?

Question: Where should one turn in times of crisis? And perhaps the more important question is, Why do we turn where we do? What reasons do we have for turning the way we do?

Illustrations: I am surely not unique in having times in my life where I didn’t know how I was going to make it. I was unsure about my finances, about how I would live, about how I would provide for my family, about how I would afford health insurance, etc. I am not special, I get that. But I am hardwired to work, to provide. It is inseparable from my identity. I don’t do well if I am floundering. I thrive when I’m busy working on a project, focusing on some goal, have a target, etc. I blossom when allowed the freedom to maneuver towards a clear objective. I don’t understand laziness. I despise it. I was raised to respect hard work and to do hard work. Laziness is, in short, sinful.

But what happens when life throws us curve balls? What happens when our health goes south? What happens when our job is eliminated? What happens when the powers that be, so to speak, restructure and we find ourselves cut off?

Or perhaps worse still, where to do we turn when an emergency befalls our family or us as individuals? Where to turn? And why turn where we do?

Connection: Recently I was reading a book by Ken Ham entitled How Could a Loving God . . . ? In it he quotes J.I. Packer:

The ultimate reason from our standpoint why God fills our lives with troubles and perplexities of one sort and another, is to ensure that we shall learn to hold Him [God] fast.” The reason why the Bible spends so much of its time reiterating that God is a strong rock, a firm defense, a sure refuge, and a help for the weak, is because God is bringing home to us that we are weak, both mentally and morally. We dare not trust ourselves to find or to follow the right road. God wants us to feel that our way through life is rough and perplexing so that we may learn to lean on Him. Therefore, He takes steps to drive us out of self-confidence, to trust in himself (154-55).

The beauty of the binary is that clear thinking reveals the alternatives, the worldviews. Either we trust in the holy, good, purposes of the sovereign God or it’s all meaningless and random and there’s no reason we should expect order. You don’t matter, I don’t matter, your suffering doesn’t matter, my suffering doesn’ matter, and this is all one sick joke where we just thought we had significance. It’s like Macbeth says in Act V of the play bearing his name:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing.

The Alternative to Macbeth’s Despair:

The alternative to Macbeth’s despair, the alternative to discounting your suffering and my suffering; the alternative to viewing the moments of panic and despair and emergencies in our lives as evidences of meaninglessness is to be quickened by them.

Why? So that we look to the Author of life, the Alpha and Omega, the One who raised his friend Lazarus, and the One who says of himself in Isaiah:

I am the LORD, and there is no other,

besides me there is no God;

I equip you, though you do not

know me,

that people may know, from the rising of the sun

and from the west, that there is none besides me;

I am the LORD, and there is no other.

I form light and create darkness,

I make well-being and create calamity,

I am the LORD, who does all these things. (Isaiah 45:5-7, ESV)

To state what should be obvious, God does not hide. He reveals himself here.

He says, in short, you and I are not accidents.

Our sufferings and joys and dreams and aches matter.

Why? Because we are clay in the hands of the sovereign Potter.

Takeaway: The alternatives remain. Either we are nothing and so we should expect nothing–because there is no God, no objective meaning, no overarching purpose.

Or we are what Scripture says–creatures formed by the sovereign hand of God the Potter, who uses and even ordains our sufferings. Why? So that we come to Him, the One who knows and does always what is right, even though that takes us through valleys of the shadow of death, through the throes of cancer, divorce, brokenness, unemployment, and uncertainty.

We can give up and say, “It’s all pointless,” or we can flee to God who bids us welcome.

2 thoughts on “Where to Turn?

  1. Thank you Jon for these encouraging writings. You are a wizard with words. Laziness is possibly defined by a persons station in life. Compared to the first 25 years I spent with the telephone company, the last five could have been referred to as laziness as I say at a desk traveling to the five state area, that belonged to our company, by only the movement of a mouse. My father worked for Southern railway. Comparing to the work that he did, my whole life could be referred to as laziness. I thank God for you and furthermore, that He allowed me to sit under your tutelage in matters concerning the Bible. Thank you for the time you spend preparing lessons that present my Saviour in a manner that really brings Him to life for me, showing how He is referred to throughout the scriptures. I love you and pray for you and Randy, along with all his family. Have a GREAT day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such a thoughtful reply, Mr. Henry. Much appreciated. I hope I did not suggest that it was physical movement, per se, that was the goal of working hard. I thank God for the smart folks like you who did and do things I am definitely unequipped to do. I love the benefits of smart guys who are techy. I completely take your point about stations in life, different seasons, etc. I wish I could do physically what I could do 20 years ago, but that’s not to be, so we move on and use what God has gifted us with for purposes of good. I love you, dear brother. You and Mrs. C. are precious saints, commited to the Lord and his Word, and we are all better off because of your impact. I look forward to seeing you both Sunday for breakfast and time in the Word together.


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