Unexpected

One day I ran 3 miles. The next day I had to buy a walking cane to get across the room. Unexpected.

Life changing, unexpected events – many of them history changing – are called “black swans.” Risk Management was invented to identify, assess, prioritize, and stop black swans. Black swans were thought non-existent until some were found in the wild – unexpectedly.

black swan

Label them black swans and employ risk management – but it is impossible to stop the unexpected.

Black swans in recent history, many in my lifetime, include Chernobyl. Folks were expecting nuclear war at the time. They weren’t expecting nuclear devastation from an energy plant.

A few more black swans: the sinking of the Titanic; the assassinations of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr.; the attack on Pearl Harbor; 9/11, the Beetles breaking up.

Unexpected can equal good; the lab accident that led London’s Alexander Fleming to discover penicillin; the creation of Israel as a Jewish State in 1947, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Most recently, headlines around the world proclaimed in shocked tones, “Trump Pulls Off Biggest Upset in U.S. History.” The man who had never before held elected office is now the President of the United States.

Black swans are not imaginary or non-existent. They are everywhere! Admittedly, my black swan is minuscule in terms of U.S. history and world events…but I’d like to ditch it and the walking stick.

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When black swans slide across our horizon, we need to remember that God is still in control. Surely no one in history suffered more from the unexpected sightings of black swans than righteous Job. Satan wanted to turn Job against God, so he destroyed Job’s family, wealth, and health. Job’s own wife told him to curse God and die. Job’s friends came to comfort him. “Job,” they said, “you’ve sinned against God or you wouldn’t be in this mess. It’s your fault.” Yup, we all know a few “friends” like that.

Job’s responses are legendary: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb…the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

In the end, God blessed Job and gave him twice as much as he had before. Good for Job. As for me…I just want to stop swimming with black swans and get back to walking again. And, by the healing power in the name of Jesus, I will.

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Broken Sticks…

One day that bat-fowled fiend satan was smarting off to God and God asked him, “Have you considered my faithful servant Job?” That ornery ole devil smarted off again and said that the only reason Job worshiped God was because God had blessed him so much. So God allowed that mean ole devil to take away everything Job had except his nagging wife. Job said, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away and blessed be the name of the Lord.”

So that cursed serpent said, “Let me at him again! Then he’ll cuss you up one side and down the other.” So God allowed slimeball, sleeze satan to touch Job’s body. I mean to tell you, that poor ole boy had boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. He was so messed up he had to take his boots off to scratch. Job still blessed God.

Then along comes these three friends to comfort Job. Let me tell you: when you’ve got friends like these, you’re up to your armpits in enemies. They started in on Job something fierce about how he must have done something powerful bad to get punished by God and how he was a terrible secret sinner. After a bit, Job had had about all the comforting he could stand from these fellers.

So Job says, “How long will you torment my soul, And break me in pieces with your words?” (Job 19:1)

I challenge you. Take a stick and break it. Put it back together. Does it fit right? Is it as strong as it was before you broke it? Can you put it back together perfectly so that you can’t tell it’s been broken?

Your words can break people or heal them. When you get angry and break people with words, an apology never quite does the job of mending the relationship. There is always that jagged, hurting shard of memory that spoils the symmetry of the friendship and mars its previous flawless beauty.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Choose to speak life with your tongue instead of breaking sticks that will never mend.

At the end of Job’s story in the Bible, God held Job’s three friends accountable for their stick-breaking words. He told them they had not spoken what was right and true and ordered them to apologize to Job and have Job pray for them. Then…”the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.”

Words are powerful. Communication is a gift from God. Use yours to build, not break.

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