For I the LORD do not change (Malachi 3:6a ESV)
It has been said, “The only thing constant is change.”
We experience it from the very moment the cells divide that give way to the bodies that were born from our mother’s womb. Then came us crawling, walking, running and climbing.
We were excited about all the new experiences we were having. The changes were great! New friends, new experiences, new freedoms; our life was filled with new and exhilarating evolutions.
We were thrilled with the prospect of what the next day would bring as opportunities seemed to be just around the corner. That is, until the changes we experienced began to “take” from us instead of “give” to us.
I remember standing next to my grandfather’s grave one rainy summer morning when I was 12. The loss that particular change brought into my life that day was foreign but has become all too familiar now.
It is strange to think that much of our lives are lived out trying to hold on to the things we do not want to change. Whether it is seen in our relationships, careers, finances, health or even where we live, change can be a very scary thing. When the things that are scary become as constant as change, it can be quite overwhelming.
When did change start taking from your life instead of giving to it? When did change become scary?
I know that some out there may be thinking that they are spontaneous and enjoy change.
But you see, even the act of embracing change is simply a vain attempt at controlling its role in your life.
We are by nature creatures of habit. From how we get up in the morning to our nightly routine, we are structured and find security in an established schedule.
Everyday established life sequences can provide safety, relieve anxiety and even combat depression.
It helps us not feel out of control, helpless or victims to the random circumstances of life.
If you don’t believe me, think back on the last time they relocated one of your favorite items in Walmart to a different area and your whole shopping experience was interrupted. Did you relish in that experience? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
One thing is for sure, you will experience change and loss in this life.
You will look down into your hands and think of how helpless you were in saving your spouse from that heart attack, how you had no control over you being given that cancer diagnosis.
No one asked you about your child getting ill or hurt. You had no role in the markets crashing in 2008 and you losing your retirement.
These things simply happened to you.
It was not your choice that your parents’ marriage did not survive, or that a friend in college took her own life. The car accident back in 2001 that made it so that you can’t bend down anymore to weed your garden was not on your schedule that day. Having to retrain yourself in a new career field because you were laid off last year due to COVID was not your 2020 New Year’s resolution.
It seems like the saying is true, the only thing constant is change.
Or is it? This past year there have been a lot of changes in my life and the lives of all of us — except in one thing.
God is still God. He is still your heavenly Father. His Son still died for your sin, and the Holy Spirit still calls, gathers and enlightens us all through His Word, giving us faith in Him.
No matter what the day brings, He still died, but more than that, rose from the grave for us all so that we could be rescued from all the changes this life brings, all the loss we feel and the helplessness of our every day.
He declares to us all, “I, the Lord, do not change!”
We know that, and yet need to be reminded, that even if the earth gives way, we will not fear but be still in knowing that He is our God, refuge and strength (Psalm 46).
This is what makes His peace different than that of the world (John 14:27). His peace is not temporary, shaken by the chances of this life, but is secure and eternal.
You want to know something else? These changes can be a lot to bear now. But He does not want you to bear them.
He wants you to stop trying to find peace in your own hard work. He wants you to find it in Him, so He promises to bear your burdens daily (Psalm 68:19).
Those burdens are His, and He doesn’t want you to take them back. Simply remember how precious you are in His sight, and watch Him take all circumstances in this life and use them for His good (Romans 8:28).
I was 12 when change in this life started profoundly affecting me negatively. But even that rainy morning at my grandfather’s grave is used for good.
The memory serves as a constant preacher in my mind, reminding me how one day change will finally stop.
The sound of the trumpet, at the voice of an archangel, He will command the dead to rise. The only thing that will die that day will be fear itself for those who believe in Him. Peace and hope serve us today as an anchor of assurance and comfort. He reigns now in our life by pointing to His everlasting promises amid temporary situations.
Yes, we are helpless many times in this life to the changes we experience.
Our salvation is no different. We were helpless in that as well. We were dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:5).
Dead things cannot do anything to save themselves. God spoke life into your helpless state through His Word of power. Remember you did not choose God, He chose you. He called you by name. He came to you through His word and put his name on your heart. A name you have the gift of calling on any time.
You may have been helpless at one point of time in this life, but now, because of Him, you have an ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46).
That won’t change, no matter your age, address or bank account.
I guess there is something more constant that change.
To Him be all the glory!
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Lovejoy is pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected]