The Wise Man and the Foolish Man
Jesus told the story about two different men who built a house. Children who grew up in Sunday school sang about those two men: the wise man and the foolish man. Perhaps when we sang that song, we didn’t understand what we were singing about because we hadn’t experienced many floods. We might have understood the idea, but we had never experienced it ourselves. That’s okay. The foundation was there for later days when we needed to learn how to build like the wise man instead of the foolish man.
Eventually, life happens, and we make choices. Some people build their lives on principles that are sure and solid. Others build without planning. Some don’t even bother to build!
Safety in Life’s Storms
It is not determination and courage that save us. There is something deeper and stronger than any determination and courage we can have. It’s stronger than any I’ll-do-it-myself-way of living.
It’s real faith: a faith that recognizes that life may cave in on us. A faith that builds on solid fact instead of feeling. We need to face life with real faith. Our faith must be based on the principles of God’s Word.
Therefore, we must accept these principles and promises^.
- God is good and all His purposes are good. He is at work to bring good out of what is disastrous. He will not permit impossible burdens to come to us. Romans 8:28 is probably the most misquoted verse in the Bible when it comes to folks trying to explain why tragedies happen. It’s true that God can turn heartache into beauty, just like He fashions a diamond from rugged stone. He takes our muddles and messes and turns them into something good. Yet, He doesn’t destine us to experience pain and heartache.
- We are not promised immunity from wind and flood and rain (or trials and tragedies). Both the wise man and the foolish man experienced rain and flooding. We should not expect to be immunized against calamity, just because we are believers. Yet, we are promised beauty from ashes and refinement from the storms in our lives.
- We are promised STRENGTH. There is a redemptive purpose in our suffering. Believe it! [2 Cor. 12:7-9] His power will rest on us if we cooperate with Him.
How Life’s Waves can Bring us Down
We need to reject faulty ways of dealing with calamity. Every one of us has experienced these in one way or another. It’s easy to get sucked into these attitudes, thoughts, and activities without realizing they are empty and sinful.
- Guilt and self-condemnation. This happens when we feel responsible for what happened. It is impossible to change what has happened. No matter how many times we say, If only, it does not change what has happened. No matter how often we think, If I had just, it does not change what has happened. We need to embrace God’s forgiveness and forgive ourselves.
- Bitter resentment and hatred. It’s our natural inclination to react to a tragedy with a hurt that can easily turn to resentment and hatred. Responding as God tells us to respond does not come naturally, and it isn’t easy. We need to make a conscious choice to forgive, over and over again. As Christians, we are called to be people of forgiveness and grace.
- Self-pity and depression. We need to avoid self-pity and moods of depression. We need to turn our focus from our loss and find others who need us. One of the best cures for depression is to minister to someone else. The problem is, when we’re hurting or depressed, the last thing we want to do is help someone else. We’d rather curl up in a corner in our own pity-party and cuddle our pain. When we reach out to brighten someone else’s world, we will find that our own world will brighten as well.
- Artificial escapes. It’s also natural to want to use artificial escapes to numb the pain instead of dealing with it. It’s so much easier to just escape from the pain by using drugs, alcohol, sleep, painkillers, anti-depressants* and senseless activities. While these things might help us get through a day, they don’t help us deal with the actual heartache we experience. In time, we end up needing more and more instead of searching to know Jesus more and more.
The Bottom is Solid
There’s the story of a minister who suffered a severe loss.
Did he grieve? Yes.
Did he question, “Why?” Of course.
Did he have deep sorrow? Certainly.
One Sunday morning he stood before his congregation and told them, “I have been to the bottom, and it is solid.”
None of us ever wants to go to the bottom. None of us wishes for heartache. Not a single one of us longs for loss.
Yet, when the rains and the winds come, we don’t need to be afraid. If our house is built on the Rock, we can endure the floods.
We, too, can go to the bottom and find that it is solid.
I’d love to hear your stories of finding the bottom solid. Care to share?
*There is a time and a place for medication – from painkillers to sleeping aids and anti-depressants. The problem is that it’s easier to just keep taking medication (especially if one becomes addicted) rather than finding ways to respond to life’s injustices that are healthy and will, in time, bring healing.
^I give credit to my husband Dave for the points in this blog post. The points came from a powerful sermon he preached a while ago, and he has graciously given me permission to share them here.