Sunday, December 6, 2009

Where Do You Find Assurance?

The past 1-2 years have been a struggle for most. The economic foundations have been shaken by a world in financial chaos. Nowhere has this been felt more than in the architecture and construction industry. I know because I was an early casualty. Over a year ago, I worked in a small architecture firm. Then suddenly I didn’t. Four months later, I found a new job. It is somewhat related, but requires me to wear the uniform of the U.S. Army. The Saint Louis architectural community is small and I do what I can to stay connected. In the last 14 months, more have been laid-off; some even as recently as the last few weeks. It’s hard to run a difficult race when it seems to last this long – even the strongest among us do not see the finish line.

Saturday morning, I was on my way to work. Rarely do I work Saturdays anymore. I was listening to the radio. It was top of the hour; time for the national and local news. The local news carried a story that immediately caught my attention: Local man, jumped to his death, owner of two well-renowned construction related companies. Due to the economy, his companies had gone through a period of many layoffs. I know some of those people who have been laid-off. I had met him once. This turn of events was a tragedy.

For the remainder of my trip, I thought about how this would resonate around the architectural community. My thoughts were filled with sorrow. No matter the potential loss of jobs and companies, they can always be replaced. Life cannot be replaced. Suicide is an irreversible decision. All of these (jobs, companies, life) are temporary, and the loss of each is always sorrowful and shocking. But an early departure from life is beyond shocking to those who must continue. For those left behind, the repercussions have the potential to be extremely detrimental.

My heart goes out to this man’s family and all the potential that was left unfulfilled. I do hope that they have a secure place to turn during this time. I pray that family and friends will stand with them and comfort them. I pray that they will be able to let go of the pieces and give them to God. Allow Him to help them find peace and move forward.

I do not mean to make light of the circumstances, but we can be so peculiar. We choose to go through life, placing our trust in treasures we know exist temporarily – only to be disappointed at their ruin. Men do this with jobs and position; sometimes allowing anger to enter our lives when it is time to move on. Anger and Disappointment are natural, but taken too far; they can lead to an overwhelming sense of failure that holds us down in a pit of defeat.  The way to overcome anger and disappointment is with peace.  Peace which passes all understanding, and leads to hope.

At our church, we have a saying: “He was reading your mail!” It is said when the message is on point with your life or thoughts. Today, Pastor Shawn was reading my mail. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing his points on finding Peace in the Midst When Your World is Shaking. First the peace which is found in the world, the temporary circumstances:
  • An Absence of Conflict (Tolerance?)
  • An Easy-going Feeling (The Eagles: Peaceful, Easy Feeling)
  • Quietness and Solitude (Leave me alone)
  • Personal Relaxation (Stress-free Life)
  • Personal Happiness (Whatever makes you happy)
That is the list of False Peace. So, is that it then? We just go through life, one temporary false peace after another? Are we to just deal with the emotion of loss; until another gain replaces it or we are dealt a loss which appears irreversible? Has repeated loss of the temporary caused us to declare that nothing is eternal anymore? How far will you go to defend that notion? Are you willing to defend it into eternity?

Beyond the temporary, insecure offerings of the world, God offers eternal assurance in Jesus Christ:

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." - 1 John 5:13

Once you have the Son of God, Jesus Christ, He offers you True Peace.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27

This is the kind of peace which the world cannot replicate; it can only offer a cheap imitation. Here are the points which Pastor Shawn offered on True Peace:
  • It is Supernatural, only comes through Jesus
  • The gift is the Holy Spirit, who helps you in times of loss and sorrow
  • His peace is not dependent on circumstances
  • His peace stays with you when you have an open hand
Jesus instructed us not to store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Instead we are to store our treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19, 20) Jobs, Position, and Status are all treasures we store here on earth. Right now the earth is being shaken. It is unstable and in chaos; treasures are being eaten, destroyed, and stolen. True Peace (Shalom in Hebrew) is strong, secure, stable and complete. Shalom is from the inside out, it is Eternal, and it is stored in Heaven.

Will we have an open hand and let go of the earthly treasures that are stealing our peace?  Are we willing to accept Shalom and find real Hope?


Anita Koller said...

Didn't know you had a blog! I have one too, but mine is not as good as yours that is for sure. I have you booked marked!

B said...

Great post, Wes!
Thank you for sharing! Peace has been my mission for the last three months, still striving for it...