When Your World Is Shaken

Has your world ever been shaken? Has you ever experienced the rug being pulled from under you and everything going topsy-turvy? An unexpected serious diagnosis, a betrayal, a financial failure, a massive, destructive storm?

My own world was shaken once when I was 15. My parents divorced and we moved from a very small town to a humongous city. On one hand, my parent’s breakup was not a surprise: circumstances had been leading to that conclusion for a long time. But it was still a shock to the system when it happened. On top of family issues, I had to process the loss of friends, familiar neighborhoods, and school and face the culture shock of a totally different area, new school, etc.

Another shaking occurred in my thirties. One morning my left hand felt a little funny, like I had slept on it wrong. Within three hours, my left arm, both legs, and my lower torso were numb, I couldn’t walk on my own, and I was having trouble going to the bathroom. I thought I was having a stroke. After eight days and multitudes of tests, I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis. Would it get better . . . or worse? Would I walk again? How could I live in my split-level house when I couldn’t get up the stairs? How could I take care of my 2-year-old? No one could tell me.

I don’t remember when I first read C. H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, but his meditation on the evening of June 22. was eye-opening for me. The verse for that evening was Hebrews 12:27: “This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” Even though that passage is talking about the ultimate “shaking” at the end of the age, we can apply some its truths to our comparatively smaller shakings.

Spurgeon says:

We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and it ill becomes a Christian man to set much store by them, for there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies; change is written upon all things. Yet, we have certain “things which cannot be shaken,” and I invite you this evening to think of them, that if the things which can be shaken should all be taken away, you may derive real comfort from the things that cannot be shaken, which will remain.

What are some things that cannot be shaken? These truths are all through Scripture, but I’ll share a representative verse or two for each.

  • God’s sovereignty. Nothing that happens to us is a surprise to God. Well, then, why didn’t He prevent this calamity? That’s a question for another post. But He has a purpose in what He allows.

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

“The LORD is constantly watching everyone, and he gives strength to those who faithfully obey him” (2 Chronicles 16:9a, CEV).

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29, NIV).

God’s power, might, and knowledge are all still in force though circumstances are in an upheaval.

  • God’s presence. One of the first things people ask in a crisis is, “Where is God?” He’s there.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

  • God’s love. We might not understand how the turmoil we’re facing fits with God’s love, but we can rest in the fact that His love never leaves us.

 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

  • Our salvation. Tumultuous circumstances do not indicate that my salvation is in question.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

  • Our home in heaven. Spurgeon concludes his devotion on this topic this way: “Our country is Immanuel’s land, our hope is above the sky, and therefore, calm as the summer’s ocean; we will see the wreck of everything earthborn, and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation.” Sometimes trials remind us of this very thing: we seek “a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” This world is just a temporary dwelling, a tent.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-3).

This is one reason it’s so important that we mine the bedrock truth from the Bible. So often we seek affirmation or warm fuzzy spiritual feelings. But nice feelings will evaporate in hard times. We need to know God’s character and Word are true no matter how we feel and how circumstances seem.

If you’re familiar with Elisabeth Elliot, you know that her world was shaken in a major way a few times. Her first husband was killed by the Indians he was trying to reach with the gospel. Her specialty on the mission field was translation, and years of painstaking work was lost in an instant. Her second husband died of cancer. A recently published book, Suffering Is Never for Nothing, is transcribed from her sessions at a conference. In the third chapter she says:

We are not adrift in chaos. To me that is the most fortifying, the most stabilizing, the most peace-giving thing that I know about anything in the universe. Every time that things have seemingly fallen apart in my life, I have gone back to those things that do not change. Nothing in the universe can ever change those facts. He loves me. I am not at the mercy of chance (p. 43).

Sometimes it’s not the big things that shake us up. It’s the little accumulated everyday frustrations. I never read the book If God Loves Me, Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open, so I don’t know if it’s good. But I’ve had similar thoughts! I love God and I am trying to serve Him here, so why am I stuck in traffic/is my computer not working/is what I need unavailable. Elizabeth wrote in another book of the frustration of spending an inordinate amount of time in the jungle on a stove that wasn’t working. Couldn’t God “make” it function so she could get back to the more important translation work? He could, and sometimes He does. But we live in a fallen world, and He doesn’t take away all the effects of that yet. She wrote in A Lamp For My Feet:

Whatever the enemy of our souls can do to instill doubt about the real purpose of the Father of our souls, he will certainly try to do. “Hath God said?” was his question to Eve, and she trusted him, the enemy, and doubted God. Each time the suspicion arises that God is really “out to get us,” that He is bent on making us miserable or thwarting any good we might seek, we are calling Him a liar. His secret purpose has been revealed to us, and it is to bring us finally, not to ruin, but to glory. That is precisely what the Bible tells us: “His secret purpose framed from the very beginning [is] to bring us to our full glory” (1 Cor 2:7 NEB).

I know of no more steadying hope on which to focus my mind when circumstances tempt me to wonder why God doesn’t “do something.” He is always doing something–the very best thing, the thing we ourselves would certainly choose if we knew the end from the beginning. He is at work to bring us to our full glory.

Sufferings and trials have a way of clarifying for us what’s most important. As the things which can be shaken fall away, the things which cannot be shaken come more clearly into focus. Many of the psalmists go through this process: they come to God shaken by a problem: an enemy is after them, they’re troubled by the prospering of the wicked, etc. But as they pray and remind themselves of the truths they know, they’re brought back to a place of peace.

As Samuel Rutherford said, “Believe God’s word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea.”

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
    though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46:1-5, 10-11

(Sharing with Tell His Story, Purposeful Faith, Welcome Heart, Share a Link Wednesdays, Faith on Fire, Grace and Truth, Inspire Me Monday)

30 thoughts on “When Your World Is Shaken

  1. Excellent, thank you Barbara. The book “Devotedly” by EE’s daughter is excellent and shows where God’s truths were made so real to her. One will look at her counsel in a totally different way after reading “Devotedly”. All God’s truths she spoke/taught all those years were worked out in her own life in many & varied ways. God surely continues to use her in wonderful ways in the lives of woman.

  2. This is a powerful message that is good for all of us, for surely we all have had our worlds shaken at least once, if not multiple times. I remember when my mother was deep into Alzheimer’s, I knew I had to trust on God’s unchanging nature to keep me steady. Everything else seemed in flux, but thankfully he is our firm foundation always.

    • I love that line from “Be still my soul”: “In every change, He faithful will remain.” And in “Abide with Me”: “Change and decay in all around I see: O, Thou who changest not, abide with me.”

  3. Thank you for sharing this – it was such an encouragement to me. I’ve felt pretty shaken lately, between our miscarriage and various disruptions of our routines and the new experience of having four mobile children. It is so good to be reminded of the solid rock amidst this quavering earth.

  4. Very timely for me as well, with my oldest on her way 1500 miles away to a new location. I was pretty teary last night on the drive home. Today I appreciate the reminder to focus on the things that cannot be shaken.

  5. I’ve been in a season of watching people I love suffer. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to bring one weary hit after another and leave you feeling discouraged, despondent, and depressed. Remembering that God has purpose in all things is so helpful.

    • It seems like these things do come in seasons sometimes – several things at once — making them even more storm-like. Praying they lean on Him and find His grace sufficient.

  6. knowing that God never changes, that He is our rock, that He’s got everything in hand gives me such peace in the midst of all the shakeable things that have come my way. you’ve expressed this so thoroughly, Barbara.

    what a blessing.

  7. Oh this is wonderful. I am in the midst of shakeable circumstances…the death of my husband of 25 years. Yet, I have seen God with me, near me, always present. He is truly unshakeable. Thank you for sharing the ways that He is that and verses for me to remember. You are my neighbor at a linkup today so I landed on the article about newsletters but I continued to read. So glad I did. I have had a number of large unnerving shakeups in my life yet now that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, He makes all the difference. ALL the difference. I know I can trust Him to take me THROUGH the storm…not under or over or around, but through. Together. Thanks, ~ linda

    • I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband. That would be one of the most shakeable situations we could be in. I’m so thankful you’re finding Him sufficient through the storm.

  8. Such a powerful post! I always need the reminder of those things that cannot be shaken. God is our presence and rock always. These words —> Sufferings and trials have a way of clarifying for us what’s most important. I love this truth.

  9. I need to come back to thoughts like this on a regular basis, because I know my wandering heart places more value on things going “my way” than the riches that come from peaceful acceptance of God’s sometimes seismic shake ups.

    • We were just talking in our ladies’ group this morning about how we don’t learn spiritual lessons just once and then have them for all time, but we usually need reminders and refresher courses. I still do with this, even though He has proven Himself time and again.

  10. Thank you for the reminder that when our world gets shaken, God remains the steady rock we can run to. I’m rereading The Purpose Driven Life. Today’s chapter was all about meditating on the promises of God instead of worrying about our problems. His promises are sure and greater than any problem we will ever face.

  11. My world was also shaken when my parents divorced. And my life and family stayed on the dysfunctional path when my dad was absent for years, then both my parents remarried and divorced mutltiple times. Love your powerful words here, Barbara. I’ve learned to trust that God is really never surprised and to trust His sovereignty. And this Scripture has become words I cling to, “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8, ESV).

  12. “Sufferings and trials have a way of clarifying for us what’s most important. ” <—– AMEN! Thank you for this. What a blessing your insight is, and has given me lots to think about. I'll be sure to spend some time learning from this.

    Be blessed x

  13. Pingback: End-of-July Musings and a Blog Anniversary Giveaway | Stray Thoughts

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