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Embrace the Mess

Our world seems quite upside down right now. We have been dealing with a pandemic for almost 6 month. Churches have been dealing with the virus–to meet or not to meet? Masks or no masks? Race riots are a nightly occurrence. Politics are heating up as we head toward Election Day. Cancel culture wants to rewrite our history books. Sexuality now consists of a string of letters that start with LGBT and seemingly ends with new ones every time you turn around.

While much around me grieves me greatly, and I am trying to constantly remind myself that God is still in control. Nothing that is happening is catching Him by surprise.

After the Apostle Paul gives some instructions about the Day of the Lord in 1 Thess. 5, he goes on try remind the Thessalonian congregation with some simple, but profound commandments. He writes:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Simple commands, but ones that remind us that we can rejoice no matter what happening, that we should continually pray, and that we can give thanks in everything, because God is in control. It is only when we get reminded of eternal perspectives that we can embrace the mess.

16 comments to Embrace the Mess

  • Lilly Sturgis

    This is such a necessary reminder in this time. I feel that, as Christians, we like to say and know that God is in control, yet act practically as if we are. I know that that is a struggle for me. I will sing, profess, and believe that God is in control and immediately turn around to put a lot of effort into managing my own path, worrying about the future, and setting my focus on how to “fix” everything. We truly are hypocritical people.

    Yet, in His grace, He gently loosens our grasp of our (self-perceived) control. That, when you ponder it, is so sweet. In our sin, or straight-up ignorance towards His nature and desires for us, He still works in truth and love to steer us towards what is best. Even on a deeper level, the very fact that He is in control and we are not is extremely alleviating. We mess up ALL. THE. TIME. If everything in my life were up to me… undoubtedly, things would go very wrong. As humans, we cannot know for certain what will happen tomorrow or even in thirty minutes. God does, AND He promised to work everything for our good and glory. It is extremely good news that He is in control and we are not.

  • Mackensie Prosser

    This just makes me think about what my life would look like without Christ. Without knowing that He held the world in His hands and that He is in control of everything. I think my anxiety would just constantly be through the roof with all that is going on in today’s world. The fact that I can depend on Him through all of the craziness though is a really sweet reminder. I know that He is working out His plan for us all and that I just need to trust that He’s got it. And because I know this and recognize His sovereignty, I can appreciate him more and rejoice in what I can’t see, but know that He is doing behind the scenes. 🙂

  • Priya Jordan Hansen

    That’s such an incredible reminder. It can be easy throughout the day to forget to recognize who is on the throne during every minute and every hour. It would change the way we look at everything that happens if that were our initial assurance. When we trust our own capabilities to create opinions or solutions in response to the world’s events, we fail to acknowledge His kingship and control. As a result of depending on our own understanding, we lose our tendency to give thanks and rejoice. When we are desperate to depend on the Lord’s understanding, we are constantly in prayer. God is a redeemer who doesn’t simply “fix” a situation but turns it around to be what it could never be on its own- He takes brokenness and makes it a testimony, and we can trust in that.

  • Paige Senseman

    I love this! Sometimes in the biggest messes, it’s the simple reminders that we need most. The short phrases we can repeat again and again. I am overwhelmed with all the sin, sickness, and suffering in our world, and with the changing environment of moving in and starting college. But the Lord reminds me to rejoice and be glad in all circumstances, because he has overcome the world.

  • Jaden Johnson

    What a timely reminder for us all. It has been hard to rejoice and give thanks in 2020. As a senior in high school, watching the second half of my year get destroyed hurt. Losing out on things like prom, a normal graduation, a track season, and more was a difficult experience. It was hard too see the good in the chaos. It’s hard to know that God has a plan and a purpose for it all when you’re in the middle of the mess. However, this verse tells us to give thanks in ALL circumstances, which includes during a global pandemic. We can rejoice and give thanks because we have a God who never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Quarantine doesn’t prevent God’s mercies from being new every morning. Politics don’t stop God’s grace from touching our lives. God knew this was going to happen, and He does have a plan for it all; in that we. can take comfort.

  • Danial Choi

    I love this verse.They are simple commands, but they are commands that has the power to get over anything the enemy will throw at us. Just like when Paul was sent beaten and sent to prison. He didn’t moan or grumble, but he worshiped. This verse is a great reminder to lean onto God even more. The world is a crazy place and it is going to get crazier and we’re going to get swept up in whatever cultural shock may come, but I know that as long as we pray for the people and show them why the God of Heaven and Earth is the most essential in our lives, we will have the victory over whatever the world will throw at us.

  • Kasey Pot

    I agree with this simple truth in every way. There have been multiple nights since March that I am struck by fear for tomorrow. Then the Spirit reminds me: Rejoice always. Give thanks in all circumstances. If I cannot focus on praise-worthy thoughts, I then cannot maintain an eternal perspective. If I cannot maintain that eternal perspective, then I will become lost in a deep storm of doubts and fears. Not only do I need to remind myself that God is in control, but I must also consistently release my own control of my life into his hands. I am reminded to trust the leadership of the Lord with hands wide open; no strings attached.

  • Macy Howard

    This speaks so clearly to the heart posture that we as Christians should always maintain whether we are on the high ground or in the midst of the darkest valley. Whenever we focus horizontally we are easily sucked into the panic and chaos that surrounds us in this broken world. But when our focus is vertical and we fix our eyes on God and who he is, all else fades away in light of his glory. I think especially in this time where the world seems to be growing more and more chaotic everyday, it is even more important to keep our focus on Christ. I love the verse from 1 Thessalonians because it is a reminder that as Christians we are only able to rejoice and give thanks in the midst of dark circumstances when we look at the Lord and see that he is good even when everything around us is falling apart, and we can trust that he will work all things out for the good of those who seek him.

  • Megan Wright

    I think, when life gets stressful, it’s unbelievably easy to get caught up in the mess of everything going on. I know that I’ve definitely done that over the last year. Those verses in 1 Thessalonians are incredibly important reminders of the fact that our focus should be on God and not the disasters around us. I tend to forget to fully trust God, especially when life seems out of control. I am so thankful that God does have control over everything that happens to us, and I’m thankful that we can embrace that fact instead of figuring things out on our own.

  • Keegan Bumpus

    As Christians, we know that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, yet we need this reminder that he is allowing these obstacles to occur so that His purpose is played out in the end. We, humans, hate change, especially pandemics and cultural wars; however, we tend to fall into the urge to combat whichever side we think is systematically wrong. This passage of scripture is an amazing example of how Christians should be spending their energy; we must focus on worshiping the Almighty Father instead of throwing the Bible at unbelievers and those who oppose us.

  • Timothy D Craig

    This is such a great reminder of how we should go about every day! I love Paul’s point here that prayer is more than just something we do in the morning when we read our Bible, or when we sit down for chapel. Rather, prayer should be the lense through which we live every day, a natural response to every circumstance we face, good or bad. I think it is entirely fair to say that when our first response to hardship is anything but prayer it reflects our pride and self idolatry. Jesus says in John 15:5: “I am the vine you are the branches, without me you can do nothing” When we neglect to give our anxieties and fears to God we do nothing more than neglect His role as the “vine” from which we do all things.

  • Elijah Engle

    All of these events which have happened/are happening around us greatly grieve my heart as well. It had gotten to the point that I felt the need to delete the social media apps off of my phone (almost 3 months ago now) because every time I logged in, I would find myself deeply depressed by not only the chaos and people’s depravity of Jesus, but many Christians’ unloving responses to the people and chaos as well.

    Thanks for sharing. I need this reminder in my life every day. God is always in control, and none of this surprises him. We get to rejoice and pray in all of our circumstances, no matter how crazy and chaotic they are, because God has been in control, he is still in control, he always will be in control, and it is his will for us in Christ Jesus.

    Another scripture passage that reminds me of this is Psalm 34. I won’t share the whole passage here, but I’ll share a few verses that stick out to me.

    “I will bless the LORD at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
    My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
    Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

    The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
    The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
    When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
    The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

  • Allie Schluckebier

    This has been such a lesson that God has been teaching me lately! God is sovereign over everything, and I think that, especially now, it is so important to recognize God’s faithfulness and sovereignty in the past. It’s so easy to think that God has “forgotten” about our generation. We constantly need to remind ourselves that God has not changed from yesterday to today, he is faithful for eternity and knows everything happening in our world.

  • Jacob Wilson

    This is a necessary reminder for us daily. We need to remember to always rejoice, pray, and remind ourselves that God is in control, no matter the circumstances. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the crazy things happening in the world today. Paul is calling us to remember to not only rejoice in the good time but the bad as well. Prayer in times of need is key, it is. the way we communicate with God and without it we would be lost.

  • Josiah Alberghene

    Paul’s world was changing too, and his answers then are still the answer now. How do we remain steadfast when everything else is changing? Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks always. This is what Paul taught us to do, and this is what we must do if we want peace. Another struggle we have as ministers is deciding what themes to touch on; sometimes, theological and moral arguments are the talks we must have. Sometimes, we cannot dig deeply enough to tackle such issues without causing more confusion; in a tumultuous present, what can we offer our congregations? The same message Paul offers us. As ministers, it is our responsibility to remind our congregation to rejoice and pray and give thanks without ceasing; this is an anchor cast thousands of years ago, and it still holds fast.

  • Luke Bear

    I love your last comment about how we can only truly embrace the mess once we have an eternal perspective about the mess! The easiest thing for me to do in this season is get anxious and frustrated. Matthew 6:27 says “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Anxiety is not productive and will not “cure” us of the stress that comes with the mess that is our world. Eventually we will be with the Lord one day and all the sin, worry, and uncertainty will be put to rest.