Facing Chaos is a series of nine articles about what I have learned over the years about dealing with the chaos, pain, and darkness that at times seems to overtake our lives.
They call it a Hitchcock shot, or sometimes a dolly zoom. It’s a film effect made famous by Alfred Hitchcock, where a video camera will move away from the subject it is filming, while also zooming in. It creates a surreal effect. There is one scene in the movie Jaws that famously made use of this technique. (CLICK HERE to check out the effect that I mean)
Whenever I have gotten some terrible, horrible news, this is the feeling I get. I feel like everything around me is kind of fading away, and it feels as if I am in some kind of floating free-fall. There really aren’t any words to describe how one feels when things in life get turned upside-down, but this is as close a description as I have found.
It’s the feeling I got when I was deeply impacted by someone’s untimely death.
It’s what I felt when discovering a deep betrayal of trust.
It is what I feel when it feels like chaos and darkness have swept over my life, and I am too stunned to even be able to speak, think, or cry.
Have you ever had a moment so dramatic and chaotic that you felt like this?
I hope you have been spared the kind of shock and trauma that such moments create in our lives. It is something I don’t wish anybody to have to live through. Yet for many of us, these kinds of moments are etched into our memories with a remarkably depth.
I wanted to begin this post by talking about these moments of chaos and confusion, because there is one truth, more than any other, that I believe is important for us to remember, especially in those moments. That truth is this: we are not alone in our fight against chaos and darkness.
At the end of the book of Matthew is a famous passage known as the Great Commission. Let’s take a look at this oft-quoted line spoken by Jesus:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
For those of us who grew up memorizing verses like this one, we will typically have neglected to memorize the first and last sentence of this passage. We will focus on what Jesus asks us to do: to make disciples, to baptize them, and the teach them to obey the commands of Jesus. Yet this Great Commission is bookended by two important truths: Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and Jesus promises to always be with us.
Firstly, we don’t serve someone who is without authority or power, and secondly, we don’t serve someone who has abandoned us. While we await the second coming of Jesus, he has left us the Holy Spirit to be with us here on earth—the very Spirit of Christ Himself.
There is an Old Testament story that comes to mind that will help illustrate some of this further. It is a story often told to children about a boy named David who took down a giant named Goliath and saved his nation (See 1 Samuel 17). In this story, we often tell people to be like David, and rely on God to slay our giants. While this isn’t a terrible goal, to be sure, I think there is another way of understanding this story that is even more powerful.
You see, in the face of great chaos and darkness moving about our world, I don’t think I am strong enough to stand against it all. But Jesus certainly is.
If we are to see ourselves in the story of David and Goliath, it would probably be more accurate if we saw ourselves not as the hero of the story, but rather as the people of Israel, stunned before a mighty enemy, fearful of their own demise, and uncertain about how they could possibly overcome. This is how I have felt far more often than I am comfortable admitting.
Yet David, like Jesus, came to the rescue. Some of us responded to our hero with mocking. Others with disdain. And some of us try, like king Saul tried with David, to force Jesus into using the weapons and armour that we think he needs to fight out battles. But Jesus doesn’t fight in the way that we fight, just as David didn’t fight in the way that Saul thought he should. And like David, Jesus also brought certain victory to his people, not because of human power but because of the power of God.
No matter what chaos you might have to face right now or in the future, be sure that when you place your trust in Jesus you will never have to face it alone. Jesus has all the authority and power we will ever need to stand before our enemies, and through his Spirit we are never left alone.
Take comfort from this beautiful passage in Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
So how do we face the chaos? We don’t face it alone. Rather, we face it together with Jesus—our Lord, our Saviour, and our friend.