For this week’s Monday Minute, Muriel shares three strategies for how to RISE UP when life pulls the rug out from under you.
When Life Pulls the Rug Out From Under You
by Muriel Gregory
“We won’t be coming home in February. They are saying it will more likely be the end of March.”
My heart sank as I listened to my husband, sharing the news with me. This was our first time apart for an extended period (you know… more than just a couple of months…). I put the phone down. My two little ones were begging for attention, but I felt numb.
A few weeks later came the second phone call… “We are not coming home in March. They currently have no homecoming dates for us.” Utter despair replaced the numbness as the reality of the situation sank in. I sat on the floor and cried until the tears ran out. Completely knocked down by the news, I felt my world was falling apart.
Maybe you, too, have experienced the devastating feeling that comes with bad news.
You may also understand how the mind goes into overdrive while the body cannot take another step. I had two young children under the age of three and a full-time job. The luxury of a complete meltdown was not mine to have. I cried and despaired, then moved to action. Worrying about my husband would not keep him safe, and despairing over the situation would not make the time go faster. I focused on what I could do: love my kids well and do my best at work.
They came home in May. The months between the original phone call and the happy reunion were a blur. I had never been knocked down that way before.
This experience taught me several valuable lessons.
Rebecca Van Noord wrote that “the way we respond to desperate circumstances often clarifies what gives us hope.” I could not agree more.
“The words of Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”
Nehemiah 1: 1-4 (Emphasis Mine)
Let’s look at how Nehemiah inspires the Israelites to respond after life pulled the rug out from under them.
The year is 448 BC, and a lot has happened to the Jews. I will not bore you with a long history lesson. In short, the Babylonian Empire had taken them captive (see 2 Kings 24: 14-16) and later the Assyrian Empire would do the same. For generations now, they lived as exiles in a foreign land, asking themselves what went wrong…
At the time of this news, more than 90 years had passed since Cyrus had decreed that the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem. Ninety years is a long time, and it is fair to assume that Nehemiah thought that the city would have been rebuilt and life slowly returning to normal. The devastating news was that nothing had changed and the walls were still destroyed. In ancient times walls represented security, importance, safety. Cities had walls, whereas villages did not. The fact that Jerusalem’s walls were still dilapidated was mortifying news.
“When something causes all the right things in my life to bend in the wrong direction, my response should be to pause and consider all the wrong things in the world that I should be bending back in the right direction.”
2020 had its share of devastating news, and for all of us, life was out of place.
You have heard it often, but it is worth repeating; we live in unprecedented times. How we react will mold us and our future. Our lives, at times, reflect lax neutrality. We avoid conflict and commitment and may even shy away from bold claims. We end up fading into the wallpaper. This false sense of safety prevents us from feeling the full power of a mighty God who calls us to rise up.
“The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’”
When we make God our dwelling place, he becomes our refuge. The news and the circumstances do not change. The storms might still rage, but his peace now surrounds us.
That first extended deployment taught me that I could do hard things. I learned that God was always close and that he fought the more significant battles. All I needed to do was show up.
Nehemiah did just that. Tune in next week to see how he rose up after life knocked him down.
If you feel knocked down by life’s circumstances, here are three things, modeled after Nehemiah’s journey, you can do right now to RISE UP.
Pause Read Psalm 46:10. Be still. Before anything else, know that he is God.
Remember Read Deuteronomy 7:17-18. Regardless of the situation, you are currently facing, remember how God has provided for you in the past.
Pray Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Psalm 42:5-6
Use the psalmist’s words as an inspiration for your own prayer or simply pray those words to God.
Lord, life can knock me down and stop me in my tracks. I pray that I will remember that you are never far and always showing me the way forward. I pray for your peace to surround me during those dark times. Amen.
John VanderPloeg’s sermon, Out of Place, on FaithLife.com