The CrossRoads Journal

The Rollercoaster of Life

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should
commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
I Peter 4:19 

When the rollercoaster of life doesn’t have an off button

Life is always having ups n downs on the rollercoaster of life.  Usually, we know that if we hold on for a while, things will settle and we’ll be on our way up again or at least on a plateau before taking another plunge. But what happens when we’re in a situation/circumstances that seem to never go up but only plateau or worse continues to spiral downward. How do you hold on when the plunge is deep.  Some of us are “screamers”, when on the roller coaster as we round each corner or make a plunge.  Some raise their hands while others hold on tighter.  How do you survive when on a long-distance roller coaster ride?  And when you don’t even know how long or severe the ride and drops will be? Looking at Scripture, I wondered if it’s unusual to have a life without a “stop” button –with ongoing pressures and struggles that go on and on.  Are we alone in our struggle?  How does 1 “who suffers according to God’s will, commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good?”

In my review of Scripture, I found many examples of those in trying circumstances

I think of Joseph who at 17 is sold into slavery and languishes in prison and or service until he is 30 and called to interpret the king’s dream, 39 when his brothers first come to Egypt and probably 41 when his father, Jacob, comes to Egypt.  24 years in between.

And Job, what can we say of him, but when he lost possessions, health, and beloved children, “he did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” After tearing his robe and shaving his head in grief  “He fell to the ground in worship and said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.”

We also can look in the New Testament to confirm that difficulties are not just the life of Old Testament Saints.  Starting with Mary who had to overcome the worldly shame that comes from being an unwed mother, and then went off and lived a life of turmoil, escaping to Egypt and returning.  She too was confused as to the behavior of her Son when she went with Jesus’ brothers to bring him home from his foolishness.

John the Beloved Apostle finished off his life in exile on the island of Patmos after possibly being boiled in oil!

Paul says “5 times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked.  I spent a night and a day in the open sea.  I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city; in danger in the country, in danger at seak and in danger from false brothers…..” 2 Cor 11:24-26

Pick out your favorite Bible character and you will soon see that it is the norm for the “Saints” lives to be filled with long seasons of trouble.  And so we can look to them to determine how they got through.

Paul writing from prison says in Philippians 4:12 that he has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation….”through Him who gives me strength.”  Joseph told his brothers that although what they did to him was meant for harm, he saw that God had a bigger picture in mind: “God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)  As Dan Allender says, “God does not let your pain go to waste.”  In the big picture, we acknowledge that God will use all our pain and suffering in some way to carry out His good plan.

But how about the days when we barely can hold on for that day?  God’s Word says that “His mercies are new every morning”(Lamentations 3:23)

What happens if we choose to stop doing good?  We can look at the Prodigal Son who went off to live for himself instead of his Father (a representative of God).  He ended up in destruction and longed to return home.

Or how about those Israelites? How many years did they wander in the desert due to their rejection of God’s way?

Even the religious Pharisees were doomed with Jerusalem because they spurned Jesus and His Way.

So hang on for the wild ride.  Accept God’s call on our lives, trust Him, His promises, provision, and plan   & that roller coaster ride will yet have an off button!  At the Promised Land!

Paul tells us he “looked to Jesus”, trusted Jesus for His power, trusted Jesus to know what He has allowed, and trusts Jesus for it all to work out, either here on earth or in heaven as we stay faithful.  No one seems to like or choose their troubles, it is thrust upon most (Daniel being carried away in captivity, Joseph sold as a slave, New Testament Saints being martyred for their faith, Jesus was thrown out of his synagogue, stoned and then crucified by the religious leaders of His day.  When we don’t understand the circumstances we are in, we can trust the character of the one in charge! For many plants, Autumn is a time to drop their seeds and fade away.  And yet during the harsh weather of winter, the seed is actually building the nutrients it will need to grow to full bloom in the spring.  The seeds are not wasted, they are gaining new life. And so we too will grow to full bloom in beauty as we turn to Jesus, trust Him, and do the best we can with the wisdom we have to live healthy and contented lives, no matter our circumstances. We may be on a wild roller coaster ride, yet it will bring us to the “Promised Land” where there will be as Rev.21:4  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.   There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

And can I tell you that I am pleased to ride the roller coaster with you, as you help me stay focused and sane on days when the rollercoaster has me on the wild ride!