Robin Williams was a brilliant comedic performer and tour de force. One of his early roles was Mork from Ork in the TV sitcom, Mork and Mindy. When something would go wrong he would say, “shazbot.” Although I did not follow this show, when I would have something bad happen or go wrong, I would say “shazbot.” This was a better alternative to my uttering, as Mr. Spock in Star Trek IV would describe it, “a colorful metaphor.” I have found over the course of my life and from observing the human journey shazbot moments, be it big or small, are the normal state of life. The book of James states, “whenyou have troubles or tribulations — not if underscoring the inevitability and common nature of difficulties, failures, troubles and calamity.
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to calamity and troubles. Pastor Ed in his weekend sermon highlighted Paul’s surviving a major shipwreck. Amazing story enough but all the more “crazy” since this journey was in the midst of his multi-year, unjust imprisonment for a crime punishable by death. I wonder how many times Paul said shazbot over the course of his many travels, church plantings, and relationships as he shared the Gospel. Based on Ed’s presentation I have the feeling instead of “shazbot” it was “you’ve got this Jesus.” Paul knew what it meant to be content in the context of a world separated in relationship with the Creator of the Universe. His contentment flowed from his unshakable faith that nothing could separate him from the love of God.
We would all love to have lives without troubles or difficulties but we are confronted with the reality that life is not that way. I believe one of the issues keeping us from learning contentment and successfully negotiating the storms of life as Paul understood revolves around our desire for a lifestyle of “perfect” fulfillment. We look for, seek after, work at obtaining the perfect relationship, perfect job, perfect house, and perfect looks and all the wealth necessary to keep up with the Kardashians. We think if we have “the thing” we will be fulfilled and complete. Instead of asking why do bad things happen to nice folks, a more primal question would be are meant to attain the perfect life here on earth.
The answer is no. As good as life can get, as rich and fulfilling a relationship may be, or as rewarding a vocation you may have, it still falls short of perfection. It is this way because we live in a “fallen” world and nothing can ever reach the level of fulfillment that existed in the Garden of Eden as Adam and Eve walked side by side in the coolness of the evening with the Creator of the Universe. We expect to find that ultimate fulfillment in a spouse, job or wealth but that level of fulfillment was only meant to be found in a personal relationship with God. Anything else is but an incomplete version of the real. As long as we look toward anything other than God we will eventually be disappointed or confront an endless season of “shazbot” moments. This is not to say we cannot have good marriages, jobs, relationships or experiences and we should work hard at doing better. But to place our trust in anything less than God leads us to place expectations on people, jobs, or whatever that are unattainable in this fallen world. With such expectations, shazbot is an inevitability and handling the storms much more difficult.
Storms clarify your values as Pastor Ed stated. The storm endured by Paul resulted in everything on board that ship being tossed, crushed or sunk except the 276 people on board. For God it is all about people and the relationship. Our fulfillment and perfection is only found in Him and He desires this relationship above all else. Jesus gave up everything that we might walk side by side in relationship with Him. And this is where my “all else” must be refined and clarified. Jesus said to seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all else would be added unto you.
Life comes at each one a little differently from the next person. I do not understand and am mortified at the extent and depth of suffering so many experience. I ask God why and am often left without a clear answer. I am convinced that I cannot judge why troubles arise in people or glibly attribute causation. I pray for mercy and rest in the hope that God is still in control. I move ahead knowing that my storms are coming. The storms in life I go through clarify where I am in relationship with the Creator of the Universe. I may say shazbot today but I am hopeful I will say “you’ve got this Jesus” tomorrow because He has said that nothing can separate me from the love of God.