Yesterday we were thinking about how our thanksgiving can change everything, how we see people and situations and how we behave towards people too. Today we are giving thanks for the good news that Our God is unchanging.
I think we have all realised, during this pandemic, how disorientating change can be, especially constant change. We all – well most of us – love a certain amount of familiarity in our lives. Even if we aren’t great ‘routine’ people we still like to live with a fair number of certainties, like the fact that our shops will be well stocked, that our journeys will be a predictable length, or that our income will be steady over a period of time. We can get quite irritated and even irate with being unpredictably let down in these various everyday areas of life, not to mention the distress and upset that really big disruptions and change can cause.
The comfortableness of our lives is based on a certain amount of ‘knowing what to expect’ in a wide variety of situations, and this is why we are ‘shaken up’ when things go wrong, when things that we have taken for granted are suddenly not behaving in the way that we think they should. Really big changes like the sudden loss of a job, the death of someone close or an unexpected illness, or even the more minor disruptions, which are more like those unexpected road diversions that happen on a journey home late at night, can all unsettle us to varying degrees.
While in many parts of the world natural disasters, war, food shortages and political upheaval cause disruption to normal life quite often, this pandemic is probably the first major global disruption, in over 50 years, to affect life in our ‘safe’ environment in this country. So that while most of us have had to cope with individual challenges, produced by unexpected changes in our lives, this has been on a different scale, and it has generated a great deal of anxiety.
I think for many people it has also caused them to dig deeper into their life with the Lord. We have found Him to be ‘our faithful and unchangeable friend’. We have seen His kindness displayed through family, friends and neighbours, and often times the unexpected has come in the form of a good surprise, as the Lord has expressed His love and care for us through the kindness of a stranger.
In all change, big and small, the Lord wants us to know that He is our unshakeable ‘Rock’. He is the solid foundation on which we have built our lives. Jesus Christ is ‘the same yesterday and today and forever’ Hebrews 13:8, and if, as He says, everything one day will be shaken that can be shaken, Hebrews 12:27 (quoted from Haggai 2:6), then we need to know this very deep down in our hearts. We need to know, at the core of our being, that we have an unshakable relationship with our unchanging God, to take us through.
The writer of Psalm 46 knew all about this. He writes, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.’ He describes God’s faithfulness to ‘the city of God’ – us, His people – He writes ‘Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord God Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.’
In times of trouble, in times of upheaval in our lives, big and small, that is our confidence, and the psalmist gives us a hint as to how we reach that place of confidence, he speaks to us prophetically, as from the mouth of God, with the words, ”Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The psalmist then makes his own triumphant declaration, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress”.
The key, it would seem, to coping with the changeableness of life and the insecurity that that can engender, is simply this, Be still and remember who the ‘I Am’ is, and who He wants to be for you in each situation. Stop and remind yourself of His names, of who He says that He is and then as you say ‘Thank you Lord, You are Jehovah Jireh, my provider; thank you Lord that you are my strength and stay; that you are my rock and fortress; thank you Lord that you are the faithful one’ etc. etc., your faith will rise and unexpected changes will no longer hold the terror they once did.
Thanking God when and for those unexpected changes that come into our lives, almost on a daily basis, can strengthen us for the ‘big ones’. Just as David learnt to trust the Lord for the bear and the lion, which gave him confidence when fighting Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:37, let us use thanksgiving in the smaller interruptions to the flow of life to build our confidence in our unchanging, faithful God. Let us see how He delivers us in the smaller things, and then we will find the peace that comes from knowing that He is with us when the bigger challenges in life come our way.
‘Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.’ Psalm 125:1,2.