For me, a new season started with the new year.
When seasons change in the natural realm, we don’t all experience it or notice it at the same moment. But give or take a few weeks, everyone in a large geographical region simultaneously exits, say, summer and enters fall. In the spiritual realm, lots of indicators tell me I’m not the only one experiencing a seasonal shift.
Some seasons pad in like kittens, entering so quietly, so gently, you don’t notice the change until it’s well underway. This season entered like a souped-up muscle car careening into town, announcing itself in capital letters as VOLATILE.
Unsettling word, volatile. Thesaurus.com lists a mishmash of synonyms, among them: airy, effervescent, playful, sprightly; capricious, changeable; elusive, fickle, fleeting, flighty; erratic, uncertain, unstable, explosive.
A volatile substance vaporizes rapidly. A volatile person behaves erratically. A volatile world threatens to erupt violently. Volatile market conditions fluctuate sharply.
In a volatile environment, you can have high hopes – that suddenly go boom. You can feel playful and giddy one day, rash and moody the next. You can enjoy an effervescent moment, only to watch the bubble burst. Your heart can move permanently to your throat.
After all, you used to live on a merry-go-round – predictable and calm, boring but familiar, routine and seemingly endless. Without warning, you now barrel who-knows-where on a runaway roller coaster. Economies and relationships flail wildly. Things that seemed immovable sway violently. Whole nations heave. Some days, you may feel like heaving, too.
Illogical key to volatile times
A few days into my new season, God told me how to approach it. He brought to mind a phrase describing the Proverbs 31 woman, though he clearly intends men to use this approach too: “She smiles at the future” (v. 25 NAS).
Here’s where logic fails me. Logic tells me smiling is good, so far as it goes. It’s winsome, healthy and great for PR. Yet the Proverbs writer attested, not that this woman smiles at people, but that she smiles at the future.
Further, the verb rendered “smiles” in New American Standard literally means “to laugh.” The New International Version says, “she can laugh at the days to come.” New Living Translation declares, “She laughs with no fear of the future.”
Laughter is fun. Fun is frivolous. Frivolous, by definition, lacks seriousness or sense, weight or worth. Thus, though laughter does refresh, we rank it as a luxury, not a necessity and definitely not a strategy for victory in a volatile season.
Imagine yourself standing mid-street with a souped-up muscle car careening toward you. Imagine someone calling out to you: “Just smile! Better yet, laugh.”
Ridiculous? Irresponsible? Smacking of denial? Inviting disaster? Surely, volatile times call for decisive, not frivolous, measures. Measures like jumping out of the way of that careening car.
Surely, volatile seasons call for fervent prayer, reading and obeying God’s Word, forsaking evil and embracing genuine righteousness, worshiping the one true God and doing the good works he’s prepared beforehand for you to do.
Ah, but might there be another response just as crucial as these? Might explosive times be key times to learn to look ahead, get a glimpse of what God sees there – and smile, chuckle, laugh?
Do beware of the counterfeit: denial. It will tempt you to invest in a pair of rose-colored glasses and wear them at all times. It will convince you to happily ignore what you don’t want to see, in hopes it will just go away. Denial will lure you, smiling, into a pit.
Remember, though: A counterfeit always mimics something of great value. Don’t miss the treasure, trying to avoid the con.
This volatile season, God is teaching me, Spirit-to-spirit, what to reject and what to embrace. He alerts me when I’m falsely cheered because I’m blinded to the truth. Ah, but as I learn to do what may not seem logical – yet proves incredibly wise – I smile because I see.
Can laughter be a strategy for victory in a volatile season?
This series is adapted from the Key Truths e-column, “Smiling Just Thinking About It.” © Deborah P. Brunt 2008, 2014. All rights reserved.
Posts in this series:
Smiling at the Future