We are in the midst of getting our house ready for sale as we prepare to relocate our ministry to Florida. The past two weeks have seen our lives in upheaval as contractors paraded in and out of our home completing work on the kitchen, floors, and bedrooms. We had to spend several nights sleeping on couches, bunking at relatives’ houses, and staying at a hotel as workers installed new carpeting, put in granite countertops, and refinished hardwood floors.  When we returned home, we immediately got to work moving furniture back into place, giving away unnecessary furnishings and getting the house ready for presentation.

Through this process, I learned something about trust from our dog, Izzy.

Izzy is a 7-year old Cairn Terrier and a beloved part of our household. Not that I’m biased, but I think she is the sweetest, smartest, and the most obedient dog that has ever graced this planet. Izzy has always had designated resting places in our house, and has been remarkably consistent in going only to the places she knows are allowed. In the course of the renovation, Izzy’s world got turned upside down as those places changed, moved, or even temporarily disappeared. I’m sure she didn’t understand what was happening as she watched all that was familiar to her go away. Izzy would simply look at us quizzically as if to ask, “What in the world is happening?” We would reassure her with our words and touch that everything would be okay, even as we knew we could never explain to her the final, beautiful result of the upheaval. Even as I know it was stressful for her, Izzy responded by trusting us and rolling with the flow.  Throughout the process, her demeanor and behavior seemed to reflect that trust. She greeted the workers with a wagging tail and never got in the way of their work. She spent some time at Grandma Jan’s house when we had to leave our place. When we moved boxes and rearranged furniture, she was content to be outside until the work was done. We made sure her familiar places, although different, were restored and made comfortable for her.

Izzy reminded me a lot about trusting God through the upheavals of life.

There are times in life when what is happening to us or around us doesn’t make sense:

The familiar, comfortable place we’ve grown accustomed suddenly changes or disappears;

  • We have to endure a season of uncertainty or pain;
  • We can’t see the reason or end result of our struggles;
  • We wonder how we can endure through it all.

The key to persevering through the heavy times of life is to do what Izzy did:

Look to the Master.

In the midst of confusing and troubling days, we have the ultimate resource for strength and hope: Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who overcame the world and lives today. The first step is to bring our circumstances to God and then lean into Him. The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews put it this way:

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

Izzy kept looking to us—over and over—during her time of uncertainty. The key to moving through and beyond struggles in life is keeping our hearts and minds set on Jesus above and beyond our troubles, as the Bible counsels:

…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”

Hebrews 12:1,2

Finally, allow God’s Word and Presence to fill you, and remember that everything we go through in life is temporary, under God’s control, and will ultimately work for our good. The Apostle Paul wrote this:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:18,37

A life of worship includes always looking to Jesus, both hard times and in good times.

God bless you!

Chris Atkins

I’ve included a song I wrote entitled “Essential Equations” sung by a gifted worship leader and our friend Chelsea Kimball. Enjoy!