Apr 5, 2016

It Hurts When Life Seems Stagnant

By Heather Judd

In true Lutheran fashion, I tend to prefer stability over change. I enjoy my secure job, my cozy apartment, and my daily routines. However, there comes a point at which an immutable existence becomes stifling. The truth is, our lives are meant to change, and when they don’t, the stagnation can be as sorrowful a burden as can unwanted change.  

Spring and summer can be especially trying when singlehood stretches on unchanging. Blink your eyes and there’s another friend getting married, someone else having a baby, or even former students graduating from high school or college.

Meanwhile, when I catch up with an old friend, in 30 seconds I’ve summarized everything of note that’s happened in the past three years of my life. I could try digging deeper to find significance in the tasks of my daily vocation, but this quickly bears the marks of Trying Too Hard. Umm . . . I spent a lot of time writing new grammar curriculum this year. Really? That’s what I’ve been doing with my life?! Is the designation of “grammar guru” going to be the pinnacle of my earthly existence?

It’s not that I think life has to be measured in grand and glorious accomplishments. I understand that motherhood is pretty full of mundane, repetitious tasks that probably make it feel stagnant at times, too. However, certain events such as marriage and the birth of a child set life on a path of relentless change thenceforward. That child will learn to talk and have a first day of school and graduate and move out--all with minimal human intervention.

These unstoppable changes touch me too, it is true. Children whom I remember holding as newborns have now outstripped me in height. Families dear to me are entering a new generation with the birth of grandchildren. My peers have half-grown families, and I have a whole set of younger newlywed friends as well. But those tangential moments flit laughing past and leave me—changing in age, unchanged in circumstance—in the sameness I have known for most of my adult life.

My intent is not to complain. At the same time I write this, doubtless some of my friends with families are lamenting how nice it would be if things would slow down and stop changing. I can sympathize with them. There are times when it is wonderful to go about my predictable existence. However, as pleasant as it may be, there is something undeniably unnatural about this changeless way of life.

In the sin-stricken world, change is God’s gracious way of relieving us from the horror of perpetual imperfection and of throwing us perpetually upon His mercy. It is in the nature of temporal life that it should change. God set the pattern in Creation where “there was evening and there was morning.” After the Flood, He promised, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). He promises change as a blessing so long as this earth lasts.

But hearken to this: He promises change. When we become frustrated by the unnatural stagnation of life, let us remember that it is God Himself who works all change. God did not surely say that He “helps those who help themselves.” On the contrary, in accomplishing the single most significant change for Old Testament Israel, He spoke through Moses, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. . . . you have only to be silent” (Ex. 14:13-14) and He delivered His people from slavery through the waters of the Red Sea.

Thus we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven, God’s will is done perfectly and eternally. That is, changelessly. Whereas life in time is rightly bound up with change, life in eternity is changeless in a way so comforting we cannot even imagine it. We try to impose on eternity our questions about age and relationships, hopes, purpose, and occupation. To ask is as meaningless as the blind men describing the elephant. We can only grasp a very little piece of the truth at a time, and we cannot possibly understand the whole with our limited minds and senses.

So we, in our changing temporal lives, simply grasp the beautiful pieces of promise we do know. Here, there is evening and morning. There, “night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light . . .” (Rev. 22:5). Into our changeable earthly lives God gives mercies new every morning. In changeless eternity, His mercies are new forever.

Are you weary of change? Take heart, for there Christ shall be your eternal rest. Are you saddened by stagnation? Take heart, for there Christ makes all things new. There the former things have passed away in the presence of the changeless one, our Lord Christ.


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Heather Judd is currently a sister, daughter, and teacher in a classical, Lutheran school in Wyoming.  The last of these vocations demonstrates the divine sense of irony since she (a) was homeschooled for her entire K-12 education, (b) only became a classical education enthusiast after earning her B.A. in education, (c) attended just about every denomination except Lutheran growing up,  and (d) had never been to Wyoming before moving there for the teaching call.  When she is not spending time in the eccentric world of middle school students, she enjoys reading, writing, acting, baking, playing organ, and pondering the mysteries of theology, physics, and literature.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I sure can relate to this as well. Thanks for the reminder that God's mercies are truly new. Amber

    ReplyDelete

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