There are a few things that are constant in life. We often joke that death and taxes are the two things that are constant in life. Have you ever considered that another constant in our lives is how often things change in our lives? Change is inevitable – it is sure to happen. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven (Eccl. 3:1).” To everything there is a season – a set change.
Solomon went on to speak of the changes and the things that we face in life in that passage of scripture from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. He spoke of a time for birth and death; a time to be sad and to be happy. Again, Solomon was speaking about all of the things that we can face and go through in life and how inevitable change.
So, for us, it is a matter of how we go about adjusting and accepting change as it happens in our life. Some of us do alright with change while for others, change is a huge struggle. Why is that the case? Why are some of us able to adjust and adapt to change more quickly than others who struggle greatly with accepting change?
Let’s do this in this week’s study – let’s take a look at change and why we can struggle with accepting change and what we can do to be better in accepting change. Scripture gives us much information about change and how we can go about dealing with change. So, let’s dive into scripture so that we can have a better handle on being able to accept changes as they happen in our life.
Changing Variables of Life
A couple of months ago, I was speaking about life to my niece at church and how she was dealing with life after graduating. The one thing she was struggling with was early adulthood frustration. We who have gone through the changes of early adulthood are very familiar with how frustrating life can be due to all of the changes that are going on. So, I told her that the one thing she would have to learn is that things are not always going to go as expected, and that she would have to learn how to adapt to changes.
No matter how much we plan for things to go in our life, in most cases, we learn that things rarely go as planned. The reason this happens is because there are so many variables that can affect us and these variables are always changing. Even more, many of these variables are beyond our control.
Accepting that things are beyond our control
Now, the one thing that the believer must learn to accept is that many of these changing variables are beyond our control. So, in other words, there are things that are literally impossible for you to control because they are beyond your control. This thought frightens so many people because we desire to be in control of everything in our life, for the most part.
There is one reason in particular why I believe this to be the case. When we do not feel that we are in control of things, we often feel helpless. Now, nobody wants to feel helpless! So, we do our best to fight against being helpless by fighting to have as much control as we possibly can. So, we end up fighting to control things, variables, that in some cases we do not realize is beyond our control. Fighting against such variables is useless but we do it anyway and this only ends up in causing us to stress.
God is in Control
Now, let’s take a look at our focus verse for this week’s study. Our focus verse this week is going to come from Paul’s letter to the Romans. In his letter to the Romans, Paul said that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord, according to God’s purpose.
So, there are a couple of things that we are going to have to touch on in this verse which will lead us to other scripture in the bible.
The first thing I want us to note from this verse is that those changing variables I mentioned earlier, whether they are good or bad, are working together to your benefit according to Paul. So, the question that someone might ask is how could Paul say that all things work together for good? There are a couple of reasons as to why Paul could make this statement.
The first reason I will share with you is that Paul learned this from his own personal experiences. I feel like everyone, believers and nonbelievers, have had moments in time where they, for example, realized that there was good that came out of something that was bad. We typically call the good coming out of something that was bad a blessing in disguise.
Now, while Paul learned this through his own personal experiences, that answer is too simple. For someone to truly believe that all things work together for good, I want you to understand that they have reached a certain level of faith spiritually. There is a certain mindset one must have to be a person that accepts things as they are. I often find myself saying, “it is what it is” a lot and there are many others who can say this and mean it. We say this not because we do not care but because we have reached a certain place of acceptance.
God’s will be done
For Paul to reach this mindset spiritually, he had to accept a certain truth in his heart – that truth being that there will always be things that are beyond his control. To add to that, Paul also accepted that though there were things beyond his control, there was someone who actually had control over all things. Paul then learned to put his faith in the one that had control over all things. Pay close attention to our focus verse as Paul stated that all of the changing variables of life work together for good according to God’s purpose.
So, what does this mean to us? God’s purpose speaks to His will – that is His permissive will and His divine will. When we pray and make supplication to the Lord, we are asking for the Lord to permit things to happen according to His permissive will (Luke 22:41-42). God will certainly permit things to occur according to His and His divine will is absolute (final). What we must do is learn to trust in the Lord’s will being done and that it will always be towards our benefit as a child of His.
Too often we try to go outside of the Lord’s will and the only thing we end up doing is foolishly fighting against the Lord. On this particular thought, James wrote, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil (Jas. 4:13-16).”
We have little to no control over what will happen tomorrow. You see, tomorrow, in and of itself, is a change because it is a change of day. Everyday comes with new changes whether we recognize those changes or not. The best thing we can do about tomorrow is trust in what the Lord has planned for us.
While there are many variables that are beyond our control, there are no variables beyond God’s control. God will certainly permit and allow things to happen, whether good or bad. Yet, for those that love the Lord, Paul says that everything comes together for good because He is in control. As you have heard me say before, God is sovereign – He reigns over everything and has control over all things.
God is sovereign over all
Let’s take a brief moment to dive into God’s sovereignty again so that we can understand to trust in what He wills.
The first thing we are told in scripture is that God created both the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1). Now, a lot of times we gloss over God creating all things but I love what Paul said in his letter to the Colossians. Paul wrote, “For by Him (God) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (Col. 1:16).”
I like what Paul said to the Colossians there because it paints a more detailed picture about the creation, especially for people who are of my generation and younger. We like to come up with ideas about multiverses and parallel universes, believing that we have outsmarted early thinkers, but in actuality, we have not. Paul tells us that the Lord exists everywhere – in the things we can see and cannot see. So, when you hear me speak about creation, you will often hear me explain it just as Paul did – God created all that we know and all that we do not know.
In the book of Isaiah, we will see that the Lord said to mankind, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (Is. 55:8-9).”
What is hard for some people to accept is that God truly is sovereign over all things known and unknown – He is God. Jesus, God in the flesh, stated, “All authority (power/sovereignty) has been given to Me in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).” Let’s note that the authority had been given to Him by the Father, who is also God. Remember that God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; John 1:1; John 15:26).
So, let us understand that the changing variables of life are under God’s authority. Again, Paul understood the Lord’s sovereignty and he learned to trust in God’s control over all things. As genuine believers, we must accept that God is truly in control over all things and then learn to trust in His control, especially trust in His control over the changing variables of life.
Praying for change
Every believer is encouraged to be prayerful to the Lord. We pray for God to play an important role in our life, right? Jesus said to the disciples, “whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them (Mark 11:24).”
The apostle Paul encouraged us not to be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God (Phil. 4:6).” To the Thessalonians, Paul also encouraged them (and us) to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Yes, we pray to God to play an important role as to how things will go for us in our life.
We pray for God to bless us, right? To bless us is to say that we desire for the Lord to profit us – to add to us and to give us increase. Now, do not think I mean we only pray for wealth.
For example, I pray to be blessed and favored. I desire for the Lord to help me on my pilgrimage through life and that He lifts me over all obstacles I face. I constantly pray for the Lord to keep me and my loved ones in His care. I also pray for the Lord to give me, my loved ones, and all of those around me a good bill of health. I hope and believe that genuine believers pray for more things than just worldly gain (wealth), just as I do.
Some of us may have health issues that we pray for the Lord to make better. Some of us may not like where we are in our career field or in our place of work, and we will pray for God to move us into a better position. The list of all that we pray to God about goes on and on, but the point is clear: we pray for the Lord to make positive changes in our life.
Impatience is our enemy
Now, what is very interesting about change is our reaction to the changes after we have prayed to God for change! Sometimes things change right away and we are left happy with those changes, right? Yet, there are other times when change either seems to be slow or not happening at all. When things do not change as we thought they would, we will view it in a negative light. We will desire to go back to the way things are, instead of allowing God to finish doing what He began for us.
Our impatience is honestly our biggest enemy when it comes to accepting change, especially when it is the Lord working on our behalf. Of our impatience, Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slack (slow) concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).”
Yes, there are times where development of a change (a blessing) may seem to be slow to us, but God has everything set in motion for us and will be completed at His appointed time. As scripture reminds us often, we must learn to be patient with the Lord. Those who patiently wait on God are the ones who are truly blessed (Is. 40:31; Lam. 3:25).
Trusting in God’s Control
God keeps His promises and His promise is to bless us. Let us remember that the Lord said in Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).” So, whether change happens through loss or gain, remember that God is in control.
Change can certainly start off rough for us at times for us, but again, we must remember that the Lord is in control of those variables that are beyond our control. Not only is the Lord in control of those variables, but let us also remember that God’s intentions towards us are good! We may not understand at first what the Lord is doing, which can explain why change often seems to be so rough at the start, but the day will come when we realize that God has been working to our benefit all along.
As Jesus said to Peter when He washed the disciple’s feet just prior to His arrest, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this (John 13:7).” Just because things may seem bad for you now, does not mean that things will always remain that way. Again, change is always constant and you better believe that the Lord is working in your favor.
So, to be better at accepting change, we see that it all boils down to us being patient and trusting in God. The last thing we should do is be impatient and not trust in what the Lord is doing for us; this only leads us to fighting against the Lord and His will. That is a battle that is beyond our control and a battle that is literally impossible for you to win.
Solomon wrote that we should trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). We should do this every step of the way in our life! It is so important for us to work on accepting change, especially because for every child of God, the Lord is in control of our change.
Change is necessary. The only way that you and I can be a better person tomorrow is through some form of change, right? So, it is better for us not to put up a fight to the things that the Lord is doing for us. When you can learn to accept change by trusting in the Lord, you will notice your levels of stress will drop as your level of patience grows. Through the changes we face in our life, let us know that there is always a wonderful blessing on the other side. Again, remember what Paul said, all things working together for your good.