Happy Pandemonium Day, everybody! It’s time to celebrate “bedlam and chaos,” according to nationaltoday.com.
For some of us, every day feels like Pandemonium Day.
You get a nail in your new tire. The central heat and air unit freezes in 90-degree weather or shuts off when it’s only 10 degrees outside. A loved one is diagnosed with a terrifying disease. You frantically search for your keys until you are late for work. The boss comes in with a new raft of projects, all due yesterday. Your flight gets canceled and you have to stay overnight in the airport, missing your event or family or connection.
Each day has its own routine pandemonium. You meet the school bus, in curlers, ball cap or PJs, with your young one(s) at 6:30 a.m. You work a long and often-frustrating day. After school, Joey needs a ride to taekwondo. Polly has dance on Wednesdays. On Thursdays, they both have music lessons on the other side of town. The dog needs to go to the vet for a pricey fee. Don’t forget planning for supper and groceries to pack for lunches. There’s church several days a week, including Bible study, VBS to help with and a potluck to cook for.
On vacation, it’s “Are we there yet?” … “Can I have frozen ice? A stuffie? A hot dog? A snorkel?” The chorus of wants and wails crescendos. THIS is vacation?!?
The cacophony from the world does not help a calm-seeker, either. News from mainstream media is rife with wars and rumors of wars, economic downturns, inflation, nightmares for prospective homebuyers, reparations requested and environmental havoc, real or imagined. Governments and leaders snipe at each other while smiling ominously and who knows what is true, noble and good anymore (Phil. 4:8)?
Social media is an additional layer of, as the Grinch says, “noise, noise, Noise, NOISE.” No wonder we are all becoming nervous Nellies who jump at the sound of a firecracker, tailgate and honk angrily at anything ahead of us on the road or stare at the ceiling for hours, trying to settle our spirits for the night.
We know what pandemonium is. We don’t need the internet to define it for us. Reportedly the word “pandemonium” was first used by John Milton in Paradise Lost, a poetic retelling of Adam and Eve. “Pan” means “all” and you can guess about the “demon-ium” part of the word.
Much of our days are spent just trying to keep our heads above water in the swirling vortex of life. It’s not a new concept. The demonic activities in our lives go much farther back than Milton’s 17th century. Adam and Eve faced off with evil in the Garden. They lost that first major battle, that is still creating chaos today.
We may cry out, “Why me, Lord?” but even people deemed righteous and blameless by God often descend into the valley of the shadow, sometimes due to no fault of their own.
Joseph of the amazing “technicolor” coat, the favorite of his father Jacob, experienced crazy turns of events again and again in his young life. Tossed in a pit by his elder jealous brothers, sold into slavery as a youth and taken to distant Egypt, then thrown into prison based on the lies of his master’s wife, Joseph persevered through his personal pandemonium to become the second most important leader in Egypt.
Much like Joseph, Job, who God called “blameless,” endured unimaginable pan-demon-ium in all (pan) areas of his life – losing his livestock, servants, all 10 children and his health; gaining sores all over his body; and suffering the “noise, noise, noise, noise” of unsympathetic and finger-pointing friends and wife.
Jesus’ brother James said we should consider trials and tribulations – “challenges,” we call them if we are accentuating the positive – “pure joy,” because “the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” If we endure these trials – keep walking, with Him through the shadowy valleys where we cannot always see the end or the purpose – we “may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).
If we dwell in “the world,” we won’t experience that joy in trials. We might even fight against it, with all our mortal strength.
Joseph and Job persevered on their long and twisting paths through the valley with their faith in His promises and their eyes on the prize – of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14). After many questions, conversations and 42 arduous chapters, God restored all that Job had lost and doubled it – more children, more land and livestock and a long life (unfortunately for him, with the same wife, who early on advised him to “curse God and die”).
Because he persevered in God’s strength, Joseph rose to prominence in his new country, gave generously to his brothers, saw his father again and realized that “what they meant for evil, God meant for good” (Gen. 50:20). They looked ahead, not behind nor at their present circumstances. And, oh, what we can learn along the way as God is making us perfect and mature! (The fancy word for this is “sanctification” and it continues till we see Him face to face.)
What we will learn is that God can turn any trouble into good. He wants good things for his children, although many days feel like utter chaos, and circumstances can bring distress and disquiet. In fact, Romans 8:28 promises that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
How do we deal with pandemonium – on this day or any day of the year? The national day website suggests celebrating spontaneity by throwing a Pandemonium Party with no rules and no set activities; studying Chaos Theory (yes, it’s a real theory); or taking everything out of a messy drawer, setting it all out on a desk, table or counter then creating order from the chaos in your formerly messy drawer. These, of course, are temporal and temporary solutions for coping with something that, on this side of eternity, will never go away. The circumstances will change, evolve and swirl in different directions, making your head spin, but while in this world, you can count on the chaos continuing. Jesus said so, very plainly:
“These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
There is only one strength for these journeys through the dark. It was tempted by Satan, beaten nearly to death, nailed to a cross until death and rose again to soon return, conquer evil and reign over the universe, surmounting all pandemonium for all time. (This is so much better than sorting out a drawer!)
Even in this world, Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:13, said relying on Jesus’ strength – only – was his panacea. Talk about chaos and tribulations! Paul endured prison numerous times, floggings, beatings with rods, pelting with stones, shipwrecks, being lost at sea, dangers from bandits and his fellow Jews, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst and nakedness (2 Cor. 11:23-27). Most of us cannot imagine these extreme kinds of woes.
The key word for these giants of the faith (and there are many others) in their various valleys is “through.” We do not and will not dwell there. Like Joshua, we must be brave, strong and courageous, for the Lord God will be with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9).
Let’s not go far from Him. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. If we seek him with all our hearts, we will find Him, and He – not a party nor a tidy drawer – will lead us through the pandemonium … to peace.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27