Cycles of Life
Life is cyclical. We are surrounded by cycles in every aspect of our existence. Even nature shows us these cycles everyday with the rising and setting of the sun; seasons change, fields are planted and harvested, trees live and then die, the tide comes in and goes out, the moon becomes full and then new again, et cetera, et cetera. Cycles are also evident in our society, financial economies, emotions and every point of life. In the Bible we read of cycles in reference to certain years, prophecies, the end of days and ultimately the glorious return of Christ Jesus. So, without a doubt, we live in a world where there are cycles. There is both light and darkness, good and bad, life and death, comings and goings, ups and downs. Yet, many people ignore this fact and become agitated at the first signs of being caught in a bad cycle. This doesn't mean that one is helpless to change the outcome, for we know we have a God who will never leave us nor forsake us, but it does mean that we shouldn't be surprised when we face hard times, especially as Christians (1 Peter 4:12-13). Remember, even though you might be in a bad situation, cycles change and you can come out of it stronger than ever. The key is to know you will be tested, and that you should not overly despair or negatively react. But instead, you should take faith and believe that the best is yet to come.
Short Cycles vs Long Cycles: For many people, there is a tendency to stress themselves out about short cycles and never attempt to fix the long cycles. For example, some people act as if the world has ended when they are stuck in traffic, lose a cell phone, or don’t get enough likes on social media. Whereas, these same people, will give little thought to finding their purpose, studying who and what they are in Christ, or strengthening their family relationships. When you overly react to small cycles it will produce a laziness in dealing with larger issues, because the small issues are already too much to handle. Instead, if a person was to focus on the longer cycles of life, they would identify what really matters and not stress about the small stuff. However, it’s important to note, challenging times will come. Even if you are at the top of your game, you will face the pangs of a downward trend at some point. The key is to be able to recognize this, as a cycle, not being in shock or despair, but knowing that this too will pass. Now, one might argue, eventually everything good will turn bad and everything bad will turn good, so what’s the point of trying. This is a predestination type thought and one that negates the Holy Spirit as your helper. Unfortunately, this thinking can be commonly used by many in the church when they don’t understand something. They will simply shrug their shoulders and say, “God has a plan,” in reference that it’s too mysterious to know what God is up to. But this attitude can be heartlessly applied when commented to those who are deeply suffering. Imagine saying, “God has a plan” to a family that has just suffered a tragic loss. God is not cold and heartless, so neither should we ascribe this glib attitude to Him. God takes no joy in the suffering of man. He heals the sick, saved us from our sins, was sent to earth to destroy the works of the devil, gives us comfort, and ultimately has prepared an eternity for us with Him. Yes, there are hard times, but God is here to help us out of them, not to keep us wallowing in them. You are not specifically cursed because you suffer difficulties, you are simply in the world where darkness and light exist. John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Happiness vs Contentment: In our society, we constantly seek happiness as the end goal. Happiness is good, but when times get tough, happiness will fade away if it’s not anchored to contentment in God. Happiness based on what you want in the flesh will result in irritability when it is not achieved. In contrast, contentment finds a way to transcend the daily desires and focus on the eternal things. Paul says as much in Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Verse 13 is one of the most commonly quoted scriptures for motivation to achieve a great feat. But coupling it to the whole thought from verses 11-12 shows us that it is more than just a strengthening factor to complete a task. It is, in fact, that Christ in us, makes a person content in both good and bad situations. When you have this revelation in your spirit, you will know that all is well, no matter if you are in a good or bad cycle. You will be content in Him.
Stress & Knowledge: When you become aware of life cycles and are not shocked by hardships, nor stressed when they come, you will be content because you have heavenly knowledge that all is well. Stress is a plague that many suffer from, and it is nothing to take lightly. People get broken down all the time for various reasons, but a way to quell it is to know that whatever you are going through — It won’t be the end of you. Even if your earthly body is destroyed, you will live on with Christ forever and ever. This is the hope we have. Jesus speaks to his followers about anxiety and stress saying in Matthew 6:25-34 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?' or ‘What will we drink?' or ‘What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Jesus recognizes that people are stressed and tells them, if you seek the kingdom of God, your stress will abate and all your needs will be supplied. This, is once again a reminder, not to get caught up in the small things, but focus on the important things. In conclusion, cycles come and go, but the Word of God stands forever. Learn to be content in Him no matter the circumstances. Run a strong race and do not quit. The enemy is out to hurt you and ultimately turn you away from God, but take faith, for Christ Jesus has overcome the powers of darkness.