Another sleepless night preceded another day of chugging coffee and praying for strength. It was one thing to deal with sleep deprivation and exhaustion when our first child had come into the world, but this was different. This was emotional and spiritual exhaustion that penetrated deep within and filled my mind with fear and doubts about the future.
These were the thoughts running through my mind nearly 15 years ago as I found myself caught between a job that I enjoyed and a change of direction that the Lord presented. I had been in radio for 9 years and loved the work and the people, but there was a spiritual discontentment in my heart along with a growing desire to teach God’s Word. I could no longer remain where I was, which meant that something would have to change.
That word, change, propelled my mind into anxious places because with change came questions about provision, purpose, and identity for myself and my family.
Fortunately, that rocky road eventually led to the incredible church and community at Heritage, but the Lord did not see fit to reveal that to me all those years ago. Instead, all I had before me at the time was that dreaded word…”change.”
The Problem with Change
Change, by it’s very nature, pulls up the familiar and the secure and replaces it with something unknown.
Let’s be honest. We love our comfortable, well-worn paths. Most of us are creatures of habit who have expectations of the world around us. That restaurant you always go to or the neighbor you’ve come to rely on become part of your life and routine, and yet the reality is restaurants close and neighbors move away.
Changes happen and most of the time we can do nothing to stop it.
Therefore, the question is not, “can I stop change from happening”, but “how can I deal with the change that happens”. More importantly, how can we deal with change in a way that is biblically grounded and Christ-exalting?
Hard Doesn’t Equal Bad
Say it with me, “change may be difficult but that doesn’t make it bad.”
If you’re like me you may need to repeat that statement a few times to yourself before you actually believe it. We cannot let the cultural norm of labeling all hardships as evil take root in our lives. Instead, we have to begin with a very well know truth from Romans 8:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
If we are in Christ, then even the hardest changes are a God-ordained means to develop us more into the image of Jesus. Of course, if we are honest, it’s not always the hard changes that trip us up and even understanding God’s ultimate purpose for change may not prepare us fully for dealing with the transitions ahead.
So how do we practically walk through dealing with change? Here are a few things that I have found helpful in my own life.
1. Clarify what is actually changing
It’s true that change is sometimes more often felt than it is necessarily seen, yet it can be helpful to prayerfully consider what specific changes are causing you concern and why.
Often these changes can land in one of two camps.
- Profound – changes that have long term effects on our future.
- Preferential – changes to our person preferences or normal routines
While we could all name things in the profound category such as the loss of a spouse or a job, we may struggle to name things in the preferential category until they actually change. It’s in that moment that we feel it. We see a person sitting in “our seat” and we get upset. They change the traffic pattern to work and it increases the road rage in our heart just a bit. The church changes the direction of a ministry and it makes us uneasy.
When it comes to those preferential changes, the question we have to ask ourselves is, “is this wrong or just different?” If there is no sin connected to them then it’s just different.
2. Grieve with Grace
Grieving is not just for those who lost loved ones. We can grieve the loss of a job, our children’s transition out of the home, or even the normal flow and traditions of life we enjoyed as a child or young adult.
You are allowed to grieve the losses that come with change.
Be honest with God and others about what you will miss, but do so with grace. Not demeaning or speaking bad about others in an attempt to deal with the struggle that comes with change. After all, that is not who we are as followers of Christ.
“Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:16b-18
In the same way, those who are caring for someone dealing with change. Be patient and gracious too. The road is tricky and the flesh can rear itself at times, but the people of God walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love (Eph 4:2).”
3. Gain Perspective
One of the greatest parts about being part of Heritage Baptist Church is getting to hear people’s stories. When you hear someone share how Christ has saved them it gives you fresh eyes to see how God works in the lives of His saints. Likewise, when you hear a precious saint share God’s faithfulness in the midst of trials you find your own heart filled with joy and excitement.
In the same way, when we are dealing with changes in our lives it is helpful to gain perspective by talking to others about their lives. It may go without saying, but also read the narratives of scripture and truly consider the lives of those who have gone before. They tread ground that we could not even fathom today, yet in considering their lives the Holy Spirit can bring to light an understanding that will help us move towards a place of peace and healing so we can transition well.
In short, seek perspective by seeking wisdom from the Lord (James 1:5) and also from others (Prov 11:14) in this process.
Cling to the Eternal
The only way to really close out a post on change is by pointing at the Holy Unchanging One, Jesus.. He is ultimately our source of comfort and strength because He never changes.
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
- Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
- For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. Malachi 3:6
- The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33:11
This is where I leave you, my friend. At the feet of the One who stands outside of time and space (Isaiah 57:15). He has always been and will forever be (Ex 3:14). He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13). In his hands he holds all existence and yet He does not grow weary.
Therefore, while we may never escape the nature of change in this life we can cling to the One who will never change for all eternity. His ways are secure and therefore we can trust His judgments.
If you are in Christ, each change in your life is so that you may be made more into the image of Jesus. This is for your ultimate good and for our Lord’s ultimate glory.
Hold fast and rejoice. Christ is in control.
Pastor of Church Communications
Mike began ministry in Christian radio, eventually becoming a pastor at a church in North Carolina before moving to Lynchburg to finish his masters at Liberty and join the team at HBC. Mike joined the HBC staff in 2015 and enjoys cooking, hiking with his family, and playing 90’s video games.