“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.’ 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. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15 (NIV)
Wow! James nailed it with those words, didn’t he? Sometimes, it takes a natural disaster, like a pandemic or a hurricane to remind us how little control we really have over our lives. When overwhelming trials come, the Bible offers us wise counsel and practical steps we can take to prevent being crushed by them. In our passage today, James gives a third step we can take when troubles come:
STEP THREE: RE-EVALUATE YOUR LIFE
It’s so easy for us to become presumptuous when life is running smoothly with a secure job, loving family, supportive friends, health and vitality! We are deceived into thinking we’re in charge and we can get up and go wherever we wish and do whatever we want whenever we want to. Then, disaster strikes, and we see life from a different point of view. We feel the brevity of life, how fragile it really is and how temporary it can be. James describes our lives here like a mist or vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes. He reminds us that only God is in control and that our disposition should be in humble submission to His will, not forcing our own. Real joy and peace come when we surrender our lives to His care and control.
Have you taken time to re-evaluate your life? Maybe it’s time to take a long look in the mirror at your short life. What do you see? How will you spend the rest of your days? You can waste your life, spend it, or invest it. If you invest it, you’ll get a return on your investment that will outlive you! Jesus said our lives consist of more than the things we possess. He told His followers, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15 (NRSV)
The trouble with possessions is they can soon possess us. The more we have, the more we have to insure, protect, repair and maintain. When we re-evaluate our lives, we consider the things of most value – what is of greatest importance. Despite the unimaginable losses so many have experienced in this challenging time, the most common response is, “I’m just so thankful we have our lives, and everyone is safe.” Stuff can be replaced. As we re-evaluate our lives, it’s important to take the next step when disaster strikes.
STEP FOUR: RECEIVE HELP FROM OTHERS
God designed us to live in community. As Christ followers, we are called “the Body of Christ”, a “priesthood of believers” and the “family of God.” All of those designations have one thing in common – community. We share in union with one another the person of the Lord Jesus Christ who indwells each of us. Together, the world gets a better image of Christ. We are called to love one another, pray for one another and to help one another. The Bible teaches us: “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10 (NLT)
Did you get that? We all need help. I love this passage in Galatians 6:2. “Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” This verse reminds me that none of us are so independent, so strong, so intelligent and so gifted that we don’t need help. You were not created to isolate yourself. When disaster strikes, especially then, reach out to others and receive their help. It’s been such a blessing to see how many of you have stepped up and volunteered your time and resources to help neighbors in need, many of whom you’ve never met. Our teams are deploying weekly to Lake Charles to help in the disaster relief efforts as well as so many locally that have suffered economic losses due to the pandemic.
When you re-evaluate your life, you’ll realize the benefit of giving and receiving help from others. It’s part of the ebb and flow of life that leads to being fully restored when disaster strikes and overwhelming trials come.