Change –unless it comes in the form of silver coins, I don’t like it that much. Most of my young life was spent moving from city to city and even across the country –twice! Just when I got used to an area, we would move again. By the time I got to high school I had been to over 10 different schools and lived in more apartments than I could count. At a very young age, I learned that changes can make you feel alone, can make you experience confusion and can make you seem invisible. The one thing I remember through all of those crazy years of moving was my collection of small horse statues. It had become an anchor for me during a somewhat tumultuous time. No matter where we settled, I always set up my collection of statues first. I needed a constant despite the inconstant nature of my young life.
Long years after I packed away my childhood collection, I realized that change happened in life whether you intended for it to or not. Kids grew older, marriages settled into routine, the economy dictated choices and jobs required adjusting. So what do we do when we can’t fight uncomfortable changes? Psalm 119:89-96 reminds us of God’s grace in His unchanging Word. We can cling to His Word as an anchor for our souls even when the changes in life place us in unfamiliar territory. Verse 89 tells us: “Your Word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”
When my children launched themselves off to college to finding their own way in the world, my mother’s heart rebelled against the change that I know is a necessary part of life. I still find a strange loneliness as I ponder memories of time that seemed to go by much quicker than I anticipated. Perhaps you are facing a similar change in your life. The loss of a loved one or the loss of a dream or a change in direction can leave us feeling lonely. The historically unprecedented times we live in right now have ushered in patterns of change with no end in sight. Perhaps you are wondering if things will ever be the way they once were. Have you thought to yourself, “How did I end up like this?” Or said something to the effect of, “It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.”
Changes in expectations, in life circumstances and unmet desires can leave us feeling alone in a cold and unfamiliar world. But, if we hold on to the anchor of God’s unchanging Word, we read: “Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures.” Have you ever been a new student in a classroom full of kids that you had never met or attended a function where you didn’t know anyone? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have had one friend to stand by your side? Sometimes, facing the natural and unnatural changes of life can feel like that. We imagine that we are unprepared and all alone, but God graciously reminds us in His Word that David conquered Goliath with 5 small stones and we can each conquer our giant of loneliness with 5 little words that God promises to each of us –“I will be with you.” (Ex 3:12, Deuteronomy 31:23, Joshua 3:7,1 Kings 11:38, Isaiah 43:2, John 7:33) Change is a part of the ongoing nature of life in this fallen world, but we are not facing it alone.
Sometimes, change occurs that isn’t the natural process of life but is a result of mistakes, both ours and other people’s. We find ourselves in unfamiliar territory and confusion sets in. A lot of people are facing unanticipated financial insecurity. Many struggle to figure out where the next paycheck will come from. Businesses, both small and large, try to figure out a way to remain open. On a personal level, perhaps someone committed to you and then backed out of that commitment leaving you to deal with the change. Or maybe health issues appeared in your life just when you least expected it, demanding change whether you were ready for it or not. When changes like these happen in our lives, we can feel lost in a fog, confused and disoriented. Verses 92-93 of Psalm 119 give us clarity by reminding us of the grace of God’s Word: “If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have preserved my life.” No matter what changes are thrown at us, we need never be perpetually confused because God says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov 3:5) If we feel that we do not know the way, God whispers in Isaiah 30:21 “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”
Finally, the worst part about facing change is feeling invisible. Sometimes circumstances can change around us that leave us feeling left behind and insignificant. What was once familiar now becomes unknown. This can happen a lot in our working lives. After being on a job for a certain number of years, the company restructures or gets bought out by a bigger company and our position is lost in the shuffle. Perhaps your position was deemed non-essential and that label is tough to wear. New faces appear, priorities are shifted, and we are left to the shadows. As we get older we may feel like we’ve lost touch with the younger generation and that their voice is louder than our own. Establishments that once were rooted in history become uprooted by trendiness. And we are left thinking to ourselves: “What is going on here, it’s like I don’t even exist anymore?” If we hold to the steady anchor of grace that God gives us, we can say with our Psalmist, “Save me, for I am Yours; I have sought out Your precepts.” (Psalm 119:94) It is easy to feel lost in an environment that moves at a worldly pace when our own spiritual pace doesn’t line up. For this reason, we need to hold fast to God’s unchanging Word and steadfast love. In Exodus 15:13 we are reminded: “You have led in Your steadfast love the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them by Your strength to Your holy abode.” And in Psalm 13:5, “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” When we trust in His steadfast love, we know that our God is “…the God who sees me…” (Genesis 16:13)
We cannot fight change. It is the nature of life, but we do not have to let change drag us down spiritually by giving in to loneliness, confusion or feelings of invisibility. Without change, we wouldn’t be able to move toward God. Without change, the perfect ending of His story would never come. But even with change and all its challenges, we can hold tightly to the unchanging Word of God. His grace gives us His constant truth, the anchor of our hope, and that is something that will never change. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)