I am devastated. Have you ever felt that way? Just about the time you think things may be going smoothly, the wheels start falling off. All around me – among my close friends, in my family, and also out there stretching to others I know, people are suffering, hurting, and wondering what to do and how to do it. Perhaps you, too, are in a time of challenge or conflict. It’s hard, isn’t it? It’s not essential to identify each of the problems, disappointments, or tragedies that we each are facing. Just for the sake of illustration, some of the tough things I am currently observing include the un-expected death of a young friend’s mother following surgery, heartache of friends whose children are far from God, poor choices with life-long consequences, wisdom needed for best care of the sick and elderly, and damaged or broken relationships that hurt. And this, my friend, is just the short list. The thing I am learning is that this is life. Some cliches come to mind – “life is not a bowl of cherries,” “into each life some rain must fall,” and “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” just to name a few.
Years ago I read a book by Rick Warren in which he described life not as a single line on a graph that goes up and down over the years. Rather he said he saw life more like railroad tracks. As the years come and go, on one track there are always some good things that are part of our story. But at the same time the other track includes the tough things we experience. I think he is right. For example, I often remind young married couples that in the traditional wedding vows a commitment is sealed with the words, “for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health, for better or for worse.” Publicly, the bride and groom acknowledge that there will be some better AND there will be some worse (and all the old couples in the audience silently say in their heads, “you can count on it!”).
So, where does that leave us? I have learned that when “the other shoe falls” (whatever that may be in your life), the best thing I can do is to get by myself and immediately ask, “Yes, I’ve got a problem, but what can I be grateful for?” You may think this sounds trite but I can tell you for a fact that it makes a huge difference. When you start saying out loud or writing down all the things you can be grateful for, your strength and confidence and ability to think straight will begin to be renewed. Then you are much better equipped to tackle the problem or issue, whatever it may be.
Besides practicing an attitude of gratitude, the best news for me is that I am not alone. My form of Christianity is not about being religious, following a set of rules, or attending church regularly. Rather it is about an up-close and personal relationship with God, the creator of the universe. Jesus died for my sins, rose from the dead and lives forever. Because I have accepted his gift of salvation and committed my life to following Him, I am never alone and He is my helper, defender, counselor, guide and friend.
His Word is the best source of help for every situation. And his presence and peace overcome the fears and anxieties. He is sovereign and He has my back, even when I do not understand. He is always right and I am wise when I obey. I have often regretted decisions I made wanting my own way. But I have never regretted obeying the Lord.
Consider the claims of Christ and the promises in God’s word. Here are just a few for you to ponder as you face the next hard thing in your life.
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:28-29
“Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee.” Jer. 32:17
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jer. 33:3
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6
Hard times are hard. There is just no way around it and we all have hard times. But you do not have to be alone. God is for you and He will see you through. Will you trust him?