dealing with change

©2021 michael martin | ask@lifefellowship.org

change is hard...

Change is a part of life, but it can frightening. Sometimes, changes in our lives take us away from things that are familiar or comfortable. Sometimes, change brings the promise of better things for the future.

Either way, change is all about the unknown. When faced with change, we can speculate and wonder about how things will be different, or we can worry or even boast about what will happen tomorrow.

Since change is inevitable, let’s look at a few ways in which we could deal with change in our lives.

my notes:

longing for the way things were

If we were comfortable with our lives, we might be tempted to look with fondness on what we’ve left behind and wish that things now were as comfortable as they were before. But the Scriptures warn us against this:

eccelsiastes 7:10

Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions.

While this statement tells us that it is unwise to long for the "old days," believing that they were better, we can also see some examples in Scripture of this principle.

Shortly after God led His people out of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites began to grumble about their desert dwellings and their monotonous diet of manna sent from heaven...

exodus 16:2-3

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

numbers 11:4-6

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"

While life in the desert with only one item on the menu might not seem desirable, the Israelites seemed to forget one things as they longed for their preferred foods in Egypt. They had been slaves under cruel oppression!

Yet, they grumbled! Ultimately, God gave the grumbling Israelites the meat they wanted in such excess that they became sick

The Israelites had missed the point. Although they may not have been in comfortable or familiar circumstances, God was moving them away from their former slavery and into a closer walk with Him.

And so, while change may lead us into less comfortable or familiar territory, it also moves us closer to the end, and that’s a good thing:

ecclesiastes 7:8

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

Why is the end better than the beginning? Because:

romans 13:11b

The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

So, if the "good old days" were good, praise God for giving them to you! But while you’re at it, don’t forget to praise Him for bringing you to today either.

But what about that uncertain tomorrow?

my notes:

worrying about tomorrow

Worry comes naturally to sinful humans, because we like to be in control. And, while we are given control of how we respond to the people and circumstances of life, we truly don’t control anything else.

And so, we waste a great deal of time speculating and worrying about things over which we have no control. Jesus addressed this issue at length:

matthew 6:25-34

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

matthew 10:28-31

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

In a world where we control nothing aside from our own responses, God is aware and in control of everything, down to the most minute detail.

We would do well to remember this. How silly it is to worry about what our Good, Almighty Father is going to do next?

And still, we worry. For this reason, Scripture gives us this amazing directive when faced with worry:

philippians 4:6-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

This passage reminds us that our focus should be upon rejoicing in God and in all that He has done for our benefit. Instead of worrying, we should share our concerns with God from a heart of thanksgiving. If we turn our worry into prayer and thanksgiving, we are promised peace which is beyond our understanding, and this peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

What an amazing promise! When we find ourselves worrying, we should take our worries captive and turn it into thankful rejoicing and prayer, which will bring us amazing peace.

2 corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

boasting about tomorrow

Now that we’ve seen that worrying about tomorrow is a bad idea, let’s look at the other side of the coin. What if we’re so confident about the future that we forget who holds our future?

proverbs 27:1

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

james 4:13-17

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

Here, we see warnings not to boast about our plans for the future. This is not to say that planning is a bad thing. In fact, we’re told in Scripture that planning for the future is wise.

However, boasting about our future plans is foolishness, because we don’t even know that tomorrow will come. Planning, therefore, is about making preparations in humility for a future that is beyond our control and which may not even come.

Our attitude about the future should be one of readiness, tempered by the humble understanding that we have no power apart from God to bring our plans about.

Consider these words from Israel’s King Ahab:

1 kings 20:11

The king [Ahab] of Israel answered, "Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’ "

In the above example, the king of Aram was threatening Samaria, the capital of the kingdom of Israel. The king of Aram had boasted that he would completely destroy Samaria. In answer, king Ahab of Israel cautioned his enemy not to boast about having won a battle that hadn’t yet begun.

Later, God brought about the defeat of the boastful king of Aram.

For these reasons, Scripture reminds us:

proverbs 15:33-16:3

The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

16:1 To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.

2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

God does not owe us tomorrow, and we are foolish to pridefully presume that we will do great things while forgetting that our every breath comes from God.

my notes:

trusting our unchanging God

As we’ve discussed, change is an inevitable part of life. We’ve seen that it is unwise to long for the "good old days" or to wish that today was "as good as yesterday."

We’ve seen the foolishness of worrying about a future that is held by a God who loves us and who is concerned with even the most minute details of our lives. And, we’ve seen the arrogance of boasting about a future that God has neither given nor owed us.

This brings us to the only proper response to change. We should commit each day, each moment to God, whether our lives are familiar or new. After all, regardless of how different the future may be, God is still the same, as is His love for us.

jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

deuteronomy 31:8

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

malachi 3:6a

"I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

2 peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

james 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

psalm 18:2

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

philippians 4:6-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

in all things, God works...

In closing, we should remember this one last thought:

romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Whatever you’re going through, and however your life is changing, our unchanging God is still at work.

He is still working for the good of those who love Him, because He will never stop loving you!

It may be different than you’re used to. It may be awkward and unfamiliar and perhaps even more difficult. But at every turn, God is moving you closer to the end He has desired for you.

And God’s desired end for you is better than the beginning!