It amazes me how quickly things can go south, snowballing from bad to worse, and I allow myself to become overwhelmed by it all. Recently I had such an experience on what was an otherwise grand day, my daughter’s 23rd birthday. It began with brunch for friends and family at a favorite bagel restaurant. Although our daughter was house-and-pet-sitting that week, she’d planned fun activities interspersed throughout the day; I would cover for her in the evening so she could stay out longer with her siblings and friends.
Late that afternoon, just before I left home to relieve her, I realized there was a problem with our plumbing: the toilets wouldn’t flush. I called and asked my husband to hurry home from work ASAP and check it out. A few minutes later as I pulled onto the highway, I heard an explosive sound and ducked. Scanning around me, I discovered a starburst crack with a tail trailing behind it at the edge of my windshield.
The plumbing situation turned out to be more than my DIY-savvy husband could handle. He called a plumber, but they couldn’t work us into the after-hours schedule; we would have to wait until morning. Though I spent a relaxing evening curled up with a book in front of a fire watching two little dogs for my daughter, it never left my mind that I would return to a house without plumbing and overnight lows near freezing. We hoped our gate code worked year-round for the bathrooms at our neighborhood pool.
Worry kept me from sleeping well. I found out what I was willing to do with a full bladder on a dark night in a private backyard. Once morning’s light — and soon after, the plumber — arrived, I made the mile drive to the pool, where our gate code did work. Hallelujah.
While the plumber worked to blast out roots that had grown through our sewer line, three family members called me: one celebrating a deeply-desired success, one fearful of dire circumstances out of her control, and one wounded by another’s words. I rejoiced with one, helped another, and spoke truth to the last. Highest of highs and lowest of lows.
By the time the plumber left, I was exhausted and hungry. The nice young man who handed me a fast food salad couldn’t have known I was stretched so thin I felt like crying when I realized he sent me home with ranch instead of honey mustard dressing. Later I stood in the shower for a long time with my head bowed, letting the hot water run over me.
Occasionally I need a reminder that I have no idea what the people I encounter are going through. The world can turn upside down so quickly. It’s easy to judge others when we don’t know the situations they are facing. Can we ever truly understand another person’s circumstances? It’s no fun being on the receiving end of a day like the one I just experienced, but those days are lived out all around us. No one gets a pass: the pipes will burst, the doctor will call, the bills will arrive, and the words will be spoken. It’s just a matter of time.
Sometimes we stand in the middle of a whirlwind as everything spins out of control. The foundation shakes beneath us and we reach out, desperate for something to hold. Friends, when we reach for some thing we’re missing the point — for our hope is in some One, the person of Christ Jesus.
In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” He gives us peace as a gift to ease our hearts and the Holy Spirit to remind us of it.
Jesus can bring peace to your mind when circumstances bring anxiety.
Jesus can bring calm in the morning after a troubled night.
Jesus can bring divine perspective when the world wounds us.
The next time your world unexpectedly spins out of control, remember Jesus’ words. Let the voice of the Holy Spirit within you anchor you to peace more firmly than the voice in your head pushes you toward despair.