The LORD said to Moses, “Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle. … Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him. —Numbers 3:5-7, 9 NIV
So there you are. An ordinary family from the tribe of Levi with your tent and your stuff, living your new life of freedom from slavery in the desert, watching God rain down manna on you day after day, still perhaps in awe that you escaped through a sea whose waters receded and stood tall as you passed through. Life has been exciting and strange. But now, things seem to be settling down, and you’re getting used to life in the wilderness.
Then one day you’re told that from now on your tribe has a job. Not optional. You’ve been given to Aaron, the priest, to help him with his work. No one asked if you liked that sort of work. Maybe you’re thrilled; maybe you’re not. It doesn’t actually seem to matter. You’re now working for Aaron and your tribe will continue to do that … forever.
When I came across this verse in my Bible reading one morning, I just sat with it a bit, imagining how I would feel. A sudden change in status and complete lack of control over the whole situation. And then I realized, “there is nothing new under the sun” as King Solomon so wisely stated. All my life, just doing my thing and minding my own tent, so to speak, change has come upon me that I neither looked for nor particularly desired. How about you?
Anybody out there whose life has unfolded exactly as she pictured start to finish? Show of hands? Wait. No one? Yeah. I’m pretty sure no one’s life turns out exactly as planned. The unexpected happens. A job is lost. A child is born with special needs. A child is not born when you long for one. A divorce you didn’t see coming blindsides you. A parent needs immense care. A tornado destroys your home. The list is endless. Much as we want to be, we are not in control. The unexpected happens so often we ought to expect it.
From God’s Word and my personal experience, here are three ways to cope when your world suddenly experiences a seismic shift. I have found that relying on these truths stabilizes me when my world tilts off the tidy axis I had it all set upon.
I remind myself of what has not changed: God has not abandoned me. No matter what else is whirling around me, I always, always have the forever love of God. As I face whatever has rocked my world, I recite scriptures that assure me of this truth, whispering a thanks to Him and holding tight to His Abba-hand. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV). Read also, Matthew 28:20, John 10:28, Hebrews 13:5.
I attempt to Stay In Today. I look at the immediate, do what I can right now, not letting myself panic about all the possible dark tomorrows. I notice the smallest things. My fingers still work. My breathing is rapid, but I am breathing. The sun is still warming my face. My puppy is still a loving little bundle of snuggle. I find what I can about the ordinary that still surrounds me and thank God for it. I stay quiet right where I am and do my best to trust that God has me—and tomorrow will take care of itself. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV). Read Jesus words to you in Matthew 6:25-34 for an in-depth reassurance.
I look for my mission in the midst. What can I learn? How can I grow? Is someone trying to help me and I need to be gracious and allow that help? What is it God would have me do to comfort others also going through this with me? Normally, we don’t suffer a tragedy or upheaval alone. Someone is in it with us. Or many someones. Does one of them need a hug? Taking my eyes off myself and seeing the needs of others keeps my pain in perspective. And helping others, believe it or not, really does help me heal as well. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). Read also Romans 8:28 and 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.
Heavenly Father, as I reflect on Your decision for the Levites, I realize You had great blessing and honor in mind for them, that they would be near You in Your sanctuary. Lord, even in the midst of hard, You plan good for us. Help me to remember that, Lord, when the unexpected happens. Help me to always turn toward You and Your Word for where else could I go, Lord? You hold the strength and comfort and peace that I need in hard times—and good times. And, Lord, always … You are good. Please be with anyone who might be reading this today and is in the middle of a trial that hurts and stings and crushes. Give her hope. Give her Your Abba-hand and Your comfort, Father, and bring her through, whole and closer to You than ever before. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
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