Focus on the Family

Thriving in Chaotic Times

by Ed Chinn

In his book, The Millennium Matrix (Jossey-Bass, 2004), futurist Rex Miller suggests that most of us – individuals, families, churches and businesses – are moving into the turbulent and chaotic waters of the North Atlantic.

But, we're doing so in vessels designed for the balmy Caribbean.

So, are you one of the people, dozing on the deck of a schooner, dressed for mild and warm Bahamian breezes? The rhythms of Jamaica pulse through your iPod wires into your ear canals. The worries and intrusions of real life are so far away.

But, later…a slight chill touches your skin. The canvas sails begin popping loudly; the wind is rising. And the graceful sailing craft seems to be bouncing on a hard surface. As you roll over and slowly open your eyes, you see angry white caps sharply defined against a gray gun barrel-steel sky.

Apparently, we are not in the Caribbean anymore.

Our Times Are in His Hands

Obviously, we all prefer the tranquility and prosperity of "good times." Your investment portfolio is rising, your home value is soaring, you pay cash for most things, dine in the best restaurants and drive a new car.

Life is good.

But, God orders and administrates life on this planet with a full and varied palette of times and seasons. The winter blizzards do something which the warm summer wind cannot. Earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes contribute unique and essential factors to life. And the economies of earth pass through normal and crucial cycles.

In his famous sermon on Mars Hill, the apostle Paul told his audience that God, "made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation…" (Acts 17:26 NASB)

Yet, we are all tempted to believe that deadly tsunamis, bone-chilling temperatures or collapsing stock markets mean things are out of control. That is simply not true.

Rather, those dynamics and events are evidence that One is in control.

That's why David wrote, "I trust in You, O Lord…my times are in Your hand." (Psalm 31: 14-15 NKJV)

The real question is "Do we trust God?" Since He has established the boundaries and times and seasons of life, do we trust His ability to administrate life on His own planet? Do we trust Him to bring the appropriate season to our life?

Is Chaos Beautiful?

In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon famously observed, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted…He has made everything beautiful in its time."

Some Bible translations change "beautiful" to "appropriate." Everything is appropriate in its own time.

So, do we live in a beautiful time? Is it possible that home foreclosures, job losses, bankruptcies, and stock market crashes are "appropriate" for certain seasons?

Is the North Atlantic in January any less a part of God's creation than the Caribbean in August? Does God see one as "good" and the other as "bad?" Could it possibly be true that both seas are beautiful and appropriate? Do both contribute to the ecology of God's earth?

God is very comfortable in what we define as "chaos." When most of us use that term we are simply describing what we cannot control.

Do we see the beauty of all His creative design and power? Or, do we tend to view the majesty of God's creation from the bunker of our own creature comforts? You know; rain on our wedding day is bad. A decline in property value means that God must be either weak or distracted. A weather-grounded flight that prevents us from getting to a Las Vegas weekend is a terrible crisis.

Be Not Troubled

I once knew a man who took long walks every day. When asked about inclement weather, he replied, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only improper clothing."

Adaptability is the real issue. How do we adapt to – and navigate through – the conditions which God alone created and controls?

Can we thrive in His chaos?

Jesus' disciples once asked Him about troubling and turbulent times. In His reply, He spoke of global chaos – wars, famines, earthquakes, and pestilences. But, he also said, "See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass…" Matthew 24: 6 – 7 NKJV.

Since Jesus said that these things "must" come, then surely He doesn't intend to change them. However chaotic they may seem to us, they are essential to His administration of life on earth.

So, the application of convulsive phenomena – meteorological, geologic, political, economic – is His business.

Remaining untroubled is the only part which He gave to us!

In this Thriving in Chaos series, we will examine many features of the current economic and political crises and how we can navigate through – and remain untroubled in the midst of – uncertainty.

We will look at numerous methods and attitudes which are essential to navigating through storms, while keeping the storm out of our own boat.

Each article will carry my email address: edchinn@mac.com. I invite you to write any questions. I'll do my best to answer them as we sail – together – through the stormy seas.


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