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A Response to Chaos

Two emails we received this week caught my attention from individuals struggling with life threatening cancer. One of them with a bone marrow transplant and the other dealing with another tumor just when they hoped the cancer was being defeated.

Two emails we received this week caught my attention from individuals struggling with life threatening cancer. One of them with a bone marrow transplant and the other dealing with another tumor just when they hoped the cancer was being defeated.

I am struck by their responses – gratefulness and deep appreciation – for the smallest act of kindness and ordinariness. Their lives have been turned upside down. They are literally fighting for their lives with no guarantee of the outcome. In this kind of chaos life is reduced to making it through the next breath.

First – “Sunday, he was given a day pass, so he was able to be at home for several hours, to lie in his own bed, sit on his own couch.  He came back in much better spirits. It's been about 40 days in hospital this time…”

And  – “There are many ways we demonstrate our love for each other but yesterday Gigi found a new one. I got the munchies on the way home (from the radiation treatment) and she pulled over in the pouring rain and got me KFC! No umbrella, no drive thru, no concern for her hair…just a woman on a mission to get her man some very unhealthy but delicious fried chicken. Ruth could not have done better.”

“A woman on a mission”, a couch, “his own bed”…gratefulness in the midst of horrific, internal, physical chaos. Gratefulness, not knowing if the transplant will take. Gratefulness for a wife who senses how to meet a need….gratefulness –  their response to chaos, to uncertainty, to be given another day to live.

How do you respond in chaos? When you are dealt an unexpected blow, given dreadful news, anticipate the worst or have hit a wall – what do you do? To whom or to what do you turn?

The lives of the ones in the emails are instructive. The responses of three men in the Old Testament are instructive.

Isaiah, when given the word that his country was about to be ravaged by the powerful Assyrian armies stated –   “I will wait for the Lord…I will put my trust in the Lord” [Isaiah 8:17]. Isaiah kept his eyes on the Lord and trusted Him. Later he wrote, “When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you; when you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames set you ablaze” [43:1-3].

 Micah in the midst of Israel’s misery wrote, “ But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord; I wait for God my Savior, my God will hear me”[Micah 7:7].

Habakkuk, just before the Babylonians invaded Israel, declared with unbelievable faith that regardless of the impending doom – “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength…” [Habakkuk 3:18-19]

Each of these made a choice to focus on the Lord – to trust His Presence. The Lord does not promise us exemption from difficulties. But, He does promise to be with us in the midst of the difficulties. He promises His Presence –“surely I am with you always to the very end of the age” [Matthew 28:20]. He said to expect difficulty in the world.

The way forward in the midst of chaos is to cling to the Presence of Christ – trust Him and cling to and hope in His unfailing promise to be with us regardless of the situation and cause. It is easy to say and almost impossible to do EXCEPT for another part of the equation – the prayers of the Saints!

The New Testament writer Paul at the end of his instructions about resources in the spiritual battle concludes “and always keep on praying for all the saints” [Ephesians 6:18]. We have the Body of Christ and we must ask for prayer to give us the strength and stamina –  to be grateful, to focus on the Presence of Christ. Sometimes it is the prayers of the body of Christ that gives us the will to keep going. There are many praying for the two individuals in the emails. You can see the results of the prayers.

 

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Gail Seidel

Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.