Riding Life's Roller Coaster
Life’s a mess. One minute you’re up, the wind on your face. You’ve been voted most likely to succeed. In cap and gown, you receive the diploma. You get the job, the promotion, the raise. You master a skill that previously eluded you. Your life’s love slips the ring on your finger. The baby’s a girl–and you can tell by the cry that she’s fine. The person you least expected is giving you a compliment. You’re laughing with a friend. You’re cuddling with a child. You’re singing as you work. All’s well with the world.
The next minute, you’re down. You can still feel the wind, but now it hits against you, cold, biting. And the drop has come so suddenly you feel you’re going to lose your lunch. You flunked. You’re laid off. The other candidate got the job, the promotion, the raise. Your fiancé wants to break the engagement. Your spouse wants a divorce. Your baby’s sick. Your teenager hurls stinging words to your face. Your friends tell untrue tales behind your back.
Your car breaks down. Your washing machine breaks down. Your life breaks down. You’re tired. You’re sick. You’re angry. You’re depressed.
Then, you’re up again. The loan comes through. A new relationship buds. An encouraging letter or phone call arrives.
Life’s a mess. One minute you’re going one direction. You have a plan. You have a dream. You’re sure the plan will get you to the dream. The next minute you’re jerked around 180 degrees. Without warning, you find yourself barreling at top speed away from what you hoped to accomplish, what you hoped to be.
You’re still single, though you intended to be married by now. You’re single again. You can’t get pregnant. Your baby changes your life in ways you hadn’t dreamed. You leave the workplace. You enter the workplace. You switch careers. You relocate. Your youngest starts school. Your youngest leaves the nest. Now 20-something, your youngest moves back in. You become caregiver for your aging mom or dad.
And just about the time you get oriented to each new course, your life takes off in yet another new direction. Up, then down, then jerked around, you’re frightened and more than a bit queasy. Like a roller coaster rider at a fair, you hear yourself begin to scream.
Long before you and I were born, an Old Testament poet rode life’s roller coaster. He surely faced as many ups and downs and hairpin turns as we. Yet he could say, “I have stilled and quieted my soul” (Ps. 131:2 NKJV).
Think of that! Hurtling downhill, he didn't yell. Yanked a different way, he didn't panic. Inwardly, he kept an even keel, regardless which way he was thrown.
How did he do it? Ratcheting upward, he cried, “Hope in the Lord” (Ps. 131:3 NKJV). Plummeting downward, he cried, “Hope in God” (Ps. 42:5 NKJV).
To that ancient poet, hope involved looking toward and resting in. It wasn’t a frantic grasping, but a sure grip, because the poet’s hope was exceptionally well-placed. Confident, expectant, he handled life’s bumpy ride by clinging to him who is always stable and ever able to “make the rough places smooth” (Isa. 42:16 NIV).
Life’s a mess. It’s sure to jerk you around. But the God of that ancient singer remains supremely in control. So when your stomach goes out from under you and you feel a scream coming on, cry to him. Hope in him.
Then, you can ride life’s roller coaster knowing you are cradled in everlasting arms.