Change is normally the antagonist of any movie, novel, or life! “Change” appears as a move to a new state, a new teacher, a new job, or a new school. But, no matter the disguise, nobody – it seems – likes it. Why?
What exactly do we mean by “change”?
It’s interesting to note that when we mention “change”, we seem to have a particular definition in mind. In broad terms, “change” could mean anything new or different. But, when we use the word change in a negative light, we are inferring only a switch from a “good” situation to a “bad” situation. Ironically, it is just as much a “change” when we get a promotion, a surprise birthday party, or a wonderful teacher. But – somehow – we never see those blessings in the same category as “real change”.
This interesting two-sided view of the same word is perhaps because of our own human shortcomings. When we experience a change from a terrible situation to a better situation, we feel as if we deserve it. ‘I’m a pretty hard worker,’ we think, ‘…that job promotion was rewarding my talents!’ Yet, when the same situation is reversed, we are far less thankful towards God. In fact, we often grumble, complain, and resist the “change” that God has put in our lives for a purpose. Why do we grumble? Well, here are three reasons why I think change is painful to us humans (plus a few tips on how to survive change!):
1. Change forces us to leave the “perfect” past behind
This is probably one of the most painful aspects of change. Leaving a friend, a class, or a job behind is really tough! I know I am definitely guilty of romanticising the past, so sometimes that makes it hard for me to move on. Can anyone else relate?? Typically I will remember the rosy moments from the past, but forget the trials and hardships that accompanied the blessings.
Yet, we have to remember that every season has its peaks and troughs. As humans, we have very short (and selective!) memories. Author Victor Hugo once reasoned that we see our present circumstances as enormous, because we look at the present with a microscope and the past with a telescope. I agree! Fortunately, we have God’s Word that reminds us of our proper perspective. The Scriptures show us how to approach life with not a microscope or telescope, but with spiritual eyes.
A few years back, when I was struggling with transitioning to a new class, I read this verse in Ecclesiastes. Solomon writes,
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”, for it is not wise to ask such questions.
Not only is this verse simple, but it is true! Whenever I am tempted to compare anything to “how it used to be”, this verse reminds me of the wisdom of looking ahead. If you are struggling with leaving a wonderful memory behind in exchange for a situation that’s far less glamorous, I encourage you to appreciate what God has given you in the past, but anticipate what He’ll do in the future!
2. Change forces us to embrace the painful present
Leaving a rosy past behind is even harder when you are faced with a painful reality. Perhaps your new job is much more difficult than you expected, or your new braces are giving you headaches, or that new teacher at school doesn’t like you. All of these unpleasant changes in life make it hard to live “in the moment”. How are we supposed to live each day, when we are faced with daily hardship, adversity, and pain?
The answer lies in a healthy balance of past, future, and present. Even though the Bible recommends an “enjoy the day” mentality, it doesn’t entirely tell us to forget the past. In fact, the Bible often teaches Christians to not worship or romanticise the past, but to remember it.
In the early chapters of Genesis, we see a wonderful example of remembering the past established by both Noah and Abraham. Despite adversity – and, in fact, sometimes during it – Noah and Abraham set apart time to remember the acts of God. But, this remembering of the past is more than just “thinking happy thoughts” – it will enable us to hope and trust.
3. Change forces us to face a bleak future
Sometimes we are tempted to fall into the trap of thinking that just because right now is difficult, that’s how it will be in the future. But, that’s just not accurate! And, although there are dangers in living in a future-oriented mindset, there are numerous benefits of considering the future during change. Unlike our modern society, we Christians are blessed with a future that we can put our hope in. This truth was acknowledged by practically every hero of the Bible – especially Abraham.
Because Abraham continually remembered the past acts of God and had experienced God’s character for himself, he was able to trust Him with his -and his son’s – life. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham’s only son, Abraham knew that God would provide, because the past had taught him about God’s character. And, despite his painful present, he had hope in a future that appeared bleak. I say that in italics because I want you all to know that with Christ, no future is EVER bleak. No matter what you face today, you can be assured that God has a spectacular plan for that trial!
Looking ahead to our future with Christ is important, which is one of the reasons why Revelations is a key book in the Bible. Over and over, God lays out hope for our future in the Scriptures – you just need to trust Him. Which is why C.S. Lewis wrote,
There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.
Why change is actually good for you…
Ok… so we discussed why we hate change so much. Now for the second part. What is beneficial about change? Well, the number one lesson that I want you all to leave with today is in this verse:
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.
I think that we can establish that whatever God makes must be important. Since He created the bad times as well as the good, they must be just as important. Actually, they are almost more important. You see, change forces us to rely on God because we are pushed out of our comfort zone by a new situation. If you are experiencing a painful or unpleasant situation that changed from a “perfect” one, thank God for it!
How is it good for us?
I know this sounds quite extreme, and believe me, I know just how hard it is to implement that joyful spirit! But, to further clarify, I’d like to quote C.S. Lewis’ novel, The Screwtape Letters. His book is a satirical look at an imaginary correspondence between a senior devil and a student devil. Thus, the reason why everything is “switched” in perspective 🙂
Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is “finding his place in it”, while really it is finding its place in him…The truth is that the Enemy (or God), having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else.
-Screwtape Letters, pg. 132
Change is one of these instruments which God uses to ensure that we don’t get too comfortable living a worldly life. Just when we are about to think that we are aptly loved and appreciated by humans, God shakes our surroundings, friends, or life events up a little, and centers our hearts back on Him. Because, the truth is, is that we will never feel at home here. Remember this the next time you are frustrated at change in your life – it is a tool that God uses to keep you focused on Christ.
Here is a parting verse for you all:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
We don’t know God’s plans, but we DO know His promises. The process might look different than what you expected, but know that the product will turn out just as God said.
Have a blessed week,