Do you remember the last time you were in an earthquake? I remember one particularly rocky shaking I experienced about 22 years ago. Everything was fine and normal and stable and sweet when I went to bed. But a little after midnight I awakened to a frightening and shattering new reality. That night I could have sworn the earth moved beneath my bed and everything that had once been stable, now seemed shifty and unreliable.
No, it wasn't a physical or geological earthquake I experienced that night. It was a medical emergency, a drastic change, a life threatening occurrence, a reality check. But in my spirit I felt like the ground on which I stood had been pulled out from under me.
Have you experienced that kind of earthquake? Maybe you ...
- lost someone you desperately loved without warning
- got a bad and unexpected report from a doctor
- lost a job you thought was stable and secure
- said goodbye to a friend you thought would always be there
- took a financial loss
- experienced rejection from one you trusted implicitly
- survived a natural disaster, but barely
- heard words of anger and bitterness you never thought you'd hear
Truthfully, we all experience earthquakes of this brand. In fact, the Bible tells us to expect them:
And His voice shook the earth then,
but now He has promised, saying,
"Yet once more I will shake not only the earth,
but also the heaven."
And this expression, "Yet once more,"
denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken,
as of created things, in order that
those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that our sovereign and good God has the ability and the right to "shake things up" in our lives now and again. But He also has a purpose in causing or allowing such a shaking: He sometimes desires to remove those things which need to be removed from our lives, but He always intends to nail in place or fortify those things which cannot be shaken.
If we want to cooperate with our loving God and survive life's earthquakes, we are wise to heed three instructions given in Hebrews 12:27-29:
Recognize God's Hand in It
Hebrews 12:29 says our God is a consuming fire. This may sound scary, but what it actually means is that He is serious about burning off the dross in our lives and refining us so that we will be more like Christ.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now
for a little while, if necessary,
you have been distressed by various trials,
that the proof of your faith,
being more precious than gold which is perishable,
even though tested by fire,
may be found to result in praise and glory
and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 1:6-7)
Hold Firm to that Which Can't be Shaken
You may or may not need to let go of something to which you have been clinging in the midst of one of these earthquakes (e.g. a job, a friend, a home, etc.), but you will not be left with nothing to hold onto. Grab hold of those things which will always remain and can be trusted for eternity:
- God's faithfulness (Psalm 119:90 - Thy faithfulness continues through all generations; Thou didst establish the earth, and it stands.)
- God's kingdom purposes (Psalm 46:1-11 and Hebrews 12:28)
- God's love for you (Romans 8:38-39 - For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.)
- God's Word (Psalm 119:71 - It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy ways. & Psalm 119:92-93 - If Thy law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Thy precepts, for by them Thou hast revived me.)
Show God Gratitude
The passage in Hebrews continues:
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom
which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude,
by which we may offer to God an
acceptable service with reverence and awe;
for our God is a consuming fire.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." We can trust that if we are being shaken, God has a purpose for the shakedown. He may be trying to loosen your grip on something or even rip something from your stubborn, willful hands. But He is most assuredly in the process of nailing down and fortifying that which is good and eternal and worthy. Trust Him by thanking Him. Thank Him for not allowing you to self-destruct or even stay the same, but insisting that you become more and more like His Son.
Have you experienced an earthquake lately? What did God nail down in your life in the process? His faithfulness, His kingdom purposes in your life, His love for you, His Word, or something else? I'd love to hear about it.