Opinion—When You’re Rocked by Life
By Mark Richardson
Editor’s note—Views expressed in the following op-ed do not necessarily reflect those of Church of God Ministries, Inc., or its affiliates. We publish op-ed features to provoke thought, stimulate healthy discussion, and inspire us to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did. We’ve asked to hear from a diverse range of voices across the Church of God movement. This op-ed features one of these voices.
As I write this article, I lament the fact that all my jelly beans, most of the good chocolate, and the last of the Easter eggs are gone! While I long ago stopped putting emphasis on these and other things as indicative of Easter, they are tangible, albeit secular, symbols of the season. Holy Week, for the second year in a row, was just a bit strange thanks to COVID. For so many of us, the celebrations and commemorations of our Savior’s Passion, culminating on Resurrection Sunday past, just wasn’t the same given the restrictions and precautions taken due to the pandemic.
The past year has been devastating to so many people and families who experienced the struggles of loss: loss of life, income, liberties, and so much more. I wish I could say that we are past all of that, but the reality is that we have a way to go. I am hopeful for the vaccines and the prospects of herd immunity, but the impact and time frames of those remain to be seen. We have all, in Michigan and beyond, been rocked by this, and all of the other major issues of the past year. The question I have is this—“How do you roll when you are rocked by life?” In other words, how are you enduring all of this while still giving focus and significance to your walk with the Lord and the sharing of your life and witness of faith in Jesus Christ with others?
I rejoice that despite the craziness, the true meaning of Holy Week was not thwarted! We still commemorate the Passover Supper, and the lessons of Communion and footwashing that Jesus gave us. We still commemorate his suffering for us, through the stripes he took for our healing, and his atonement on the cross. He bore our sins, and he died in our place. We still commemorate his time in the grave, where he fulfilled the symbolism of carrying our sins away from us. We still celebrate his resurrection, where he rose from the dead and justified us forever. Praise the Lord! Yet, as the gospel narratives share, there was a stone that sealed the grave where Jesus was laid, and those women who came to anoint his body wondered how the stone would be rolled away. When they got there, there were amazed to find that the stone had been rolled away, but Jesus had risen from the dead as he said he would. The rock was rolled away, and our Savior won the victory over the grave for all who are his.
There is so much to be joyful about with this. For everyone in Christ, even when life rocks us, we can roll with Jesus Christ and know that he loves us, cares for us, and will never leave or forsake us. There is nothing that is bigger and harder that we face which is more difficult for him than what he has already done for us. He is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or even imagine, as the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3:20. So I want to encourage you, that when you are rocked by life, to consider these three things as you roll with Jesus Christ.
1. Roll into earnest prayer. Don’t allow your circumstances to be bigger in your eyes and your heart than our Lord! I know this seems like Christianity 101, but the reality is that too many Christians lean more on too many other things than the Lord and his unconditional love for us, his loving kindness, and his unhindered powerful compassion for us. Pray expectantly, without wavering, and trust that he knows what you are going through and will come to your rescue in his time.
2. Roll into practice. Don’t allow the struggles and pain your face, or perhaps that your church is facing, to change how you live out your faith. Endeavor to stay in God’s Word, and allow it to continue to shape your life, encourage your heart, and strengthen your mind. Take the time to care for yourself, body, mind, and spirit. Are you eating right, exercising, and resting to promote health? Are you feeding your mind with the things of God and focusing on those things that will bring you nearer to him (see Philippians 4)? Are you open to good, biblical counseling if you are struggling and need some help? Are you open to investing in resources that will help you to work through struggles and give you practical and biblical advice? Are you practicing the presence of God in every aspect of your life, open to the Holy Spirit’s strengthening and equipping? The good habits that we practice will help us to keep our minds and hearts focused on him. The promise of the Word of God is that he will keep us in perfect peace if our minds are stayed on him.
3. Roll into purpose. Don’t allow the distractions and challenges of the culture to deter you from living out our purpose. That is clear. We are to make disciples (Matthew 28) and love God and others (Matthew 22). That is why we are here, and that is why the church exists. Clearly life can rock us, but Jesus knows that will happen. Yet, he still expects and desires us to help people to find and follow him. He is the way, the truth, and the life; he is the only way that people will be able to roll through this rocky life to life everlasting in heaven with him.
Folks, I encourage you not to let the rocks of struggle and discouragement win the battle. Roll through them with Jesus Christ. He is able and willing to enable you to endure and thrive. Don’t be afraid to reach out to him and others around you who know him for help when you feel overwhelmed. There is help.
Questions or comments? Rev. Mark K. Richardson can be reached by email at email@example.com. Mark Richardson, who has served in a variety of capacities from the local church to Church of God Ministries, is currently the state pastor for the Church of God in Michigan. Op-ed originally published by the Church of God in Michigan’s April issue of their eAction newsletter. Republished by permission.