Coping With Change

     Six centuries before Jesus was born a Greek philosopher taught, “The only thing that is permanent in life is change.” That statement may be more true of our generation than any other.

     Alvin Toffler, a highly regarded futurist and author of the book “Future Shock”, says that we live in a throw-away-society. By that he means that most products are made to be used temporarily and discarded. Those in the trash and junk business will surely affirm that this is true. We use almost everything for a while and then toss it. We are living in a constantly changing world. We are told that science textbooks are out of date by the time they are printed.

     Change brings stress. Dr. Thomas Holmes led his students in a thorough research of the causes of stress. They came up with 43 areas. The common thread running through every one of them was that they all involved change in one form or another.

     Some areas of change bring catastrophic stress into our lives, such as the sudden death of a family member, a divorce, (several members of our church are facing this trial), a jail sentence or being fired from a job. Even small irritations that continue over an extended period of time can result in high level of stress (such as caring for an aged parent or ill relative).

     Does the Bible provide any counsel on coping with change? Indeed it does.

    The Apostle Paul refers to stress he experienced as a result of great change in his life. He had been raised and trained to be a rabbi in the Jewish religion. He had been exceptionally zealous for his religion and had been honored above all young rabbis his age. As a result of being personally confronted by Christ he changed from being a persecutor of Christ to a preacher of Christ. He described his new message as “the gospel of the glory of Christ…” 2nd Corinthians 4:4.

     Paul went on to describe the difference in the way he was treated as a preacher of the gospel from the honor he enjoyed as a young rabbi: “…we are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; we are  perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed---always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  2nd Corinthians 4:8-10. This was a big change for Paul.

     How did Paul handle these stressful changes?  “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke;’”  2nd Corinthians 4:13The key factor by which Paul dealt with the stressful changes of life was faith.

     What was the effect of handling stressful changes by faith? “Therefore we do not lose heart, event though our outward man is perishing, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day. For  our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look  at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2nd Corinthians 4:16-18.

     Paul is telling us that everything we experience in life can be divided into two categories; that which is permanent and that which is temporary. Everything we can see is temporary and will pass away. The eternal things are invisible, but they are going to last forever.

     The key to learning how to cope with change is to focus on the things that last forever. Change is going to come into the life of every one of us. We can resist it and resent it, but it is still going to come. Some may have children that will never live to be teenagers. Some have teenagers who choose a life of behavior that will break their hearts. Some who take for granted they have a good marriage may hear a spouse say, “I have filed for divorce.” Some who are doing well financially may have reverses and lose everything. Anyone of us could contract cancer or some other dread disease that will shorten our days. If our entire focus is on the temporary material things that are going to pass away, these things can pound us into a state of depression. If we focus on eternal things we have an anchor that will hold us steady in every storm.

      There are three special eternal things that will enable you to cope with the stressful changes of life.

God’s Love For You Will Never Change

     Get settled in your mind that God's love for you will never change. You ask, "Even if I do something wrong?" Yes, because His love for you is based on grace, not on what you deserve. We grow up thinking that God treats us like Santa Claus. "He's make a list, checking it twice; gonna' find out who's naughty and nice." And we reason that if we are nice God loves us, but if we're naughty He doesn't. No, God's love for us never changes. The truth is that God knew all about every failure we would ever have because of our weakness. That failure was laid on Jesus as He died on the cross and He received the full punishment for it. It is true that God chastens us for our failures, but He does it in love to help us change the failures into victories. But even on our worst days God loves us just as much as He does on our best days. Listen carefully to what God says about His love for us. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?…in all these things we more than  conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor  powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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." Romans 8:35, 37 - 39.

     Have you ever had a time when you felt like the wheels were falling off; everything was falling apart and your whole world was crashing in on you? In times like that your greatest source of inner strength is to remember that God's love for you will never change.

God's Promises To You Will Never Change.

     ". . .As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the  knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…"  2nd Peter 1:3,4.

     If you want to build your life on a foundation that will hold firm in the storms of change, then build your life on the promises of God. Jesus said, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock."  Matthew 7:24,25. It is a pipe dream to hope that we will be exempt from the storms of change. They will come. It is wisdom to build on a foundation that will not tremble beneath our feet. That foundation is God's promises. God not only gives us promises about our salvation and our Christian life, He also promises to be there to help us when we need Him. "…for He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you, nor forsake you,' so that we may boldly say:  'The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me.'" Hebrews 13:5b, 6.

     Build your life on the promises of God and when the storms of change are raging you will have an unshakeable foundation beneath your feet.

God's Ultimate Purpose Will Never Change

     God has a plan and He is at work in human history to bring it to pass. God had a plan:

  • When He created Adam and Eve

  • When He promised 'the seed of the woman' (the virgin born Christ) would bruise Satan's head

  • When He chose a line of people to bring the Christ into the world

     The plan of God can be traced with great clarity in the lives of Noah, Abraham, Israel, Moses, Joshua, the judges, prophets, and kings of Israel.

     The plan of God during the church age has been described as"…God…to take out of them a people for His name."  Acts 15:14b and "that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel."  Ephesians 3:6. Evidence of that plan can be seen in that one-fourth of the planet earth's six billion humans claim to be believers in Jesus Christ.

     The scriptures tell us that Jesus is coming to take His true believers to be with Him while those left behind on earth experience seven years of tribulation. Following that we are told that Jesus will return with His believers and reign over this earth for 1000 years. Even beyond that the scriptures tell us there will be a new heaven and earth in which true believers will reign and serve with Christ. We can be assured God's plan will come to pass on schedule.

     God also has a plan for each believer. The most important part of that plan is to shape each believer more and more into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. God is at work to use everything that comes into a believers life to accomplish this purpose --the joys and the sorrows…the victories and the defeats…the gains and the losses. He makes all these things work together to accomplish that purpose (See Romans 8:28, 29).

     God also has a plan to shape every believer for ministry. By spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, experiences and inner heart's desire God shapes each believer to minister to other believers. Some are also especially gifted to minister the gospel to the unsaved. (See 1st Peter 4:10)

     God has a specific plan and purpose for your life. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or the experiences of your life God has a plan for you. You can choose to cooperate with Him or not. But don't be surprised if after living outside God's plan you don't later decide that it would have been far better to cooperate with God. We can help you discover God's plan for you. You will then find that the greatest success you can have in life is to live in harmony with God's plan.

     Have major changes or a lot of minor changes brought tension and stress into your life. I encourage you to focus on the fact that no matter what happens God's love for you will never change; God's promises to you will never change, and God's eternal plans to accomplish His purpose and His specific plans for you will never change.

     If you have not yet opened your heart to Jesus Christ and received him as your Savior, I encourage you to do so today. It will be your first and most important step in coping with change.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.