Like an earth shattering event that causes rivers to change course or flow backwards for a time, our lives can be drastically altered in a single instant. The words that follow “I’m sorry, but…” pack a punch.
I’m sorry, but…
You’re infertile. It’s cancer. You can no longer work here. You’ve lost the baby. Your pregnancy test was negative. Your disease is progressing, in spite of the treatments. There’s been an accident.
The instant those words are spoken, two worlds collide. Our biggest fears meet our reality. Life, as we know it, from that point on is different; not just for us, but for our loved ones, friends and family alike. The tectonic plates shift and it takes some time to realize the magnitude of the change that just took place.
If your world has just changed course with little to no warning, you need to be reminded of something important. God is still in control and He is still good. He doesn’t allow the world to be shaken underneath you without a greater purpose or plan at work. And he doesn’t leave you isolated. You are not alone in your struggle.
You see right after tragedy strikes, whether on an individual level or a global one, people respond. It’s how God designed us and it’s where we see His love in action in an incredibly powerful way. But if you’ve recently had a loved one suffer a devastating blow, you know how helpless it can leave you feeling. We want to fix things. We want to take all their pain away and protect them. But that’s not what God asks us to do. Certainly there are urgent logistics that need handling and there are needs to be met and don’t need to be minimized. Us Southern ladies will be the first ones to start up a meal delivery schedule for you because we know that various forms of chicken casserole will heal diseases and broken hearts that modern medicine can’t touch. And if you have something really serious, soup… we will bring you soup. That is our love language and we speak it well! The foods and childcare and grass cutting are absolutely needed, so if you’re doing that, please keep doing those wonderful things. But if you have a loved one hurting, the biggest thing you can do is to simply come alongside them and reassure them that they are not alone. Hold their hand, literally if you’re lucky enough to be close enough. Call them, cry with them, laugh with them. Let them talk and don’t try to fix it. Let them get angry, and sad, and hopeful and don’t interfere with their grief process. And pray, oh my goodness, pray.
In the last two weeks, I’ve had friends call with every single one of those events. Miscarriages, layoffs, cancer, failed IVF cycles, serious accidents. It’s been a heavy couple of weeks, but one that has reminded me that these things in life happen to each of us at some point. When they occur and our life shifts course we’re not targeted, it’s not a string of bad luck, it’s not a punishment. God doesn’t work that way. We simply live in a fallen world where death and destruction are a part of it and walk side-by-side with life and resurrection. They don’t undermine who God is or threaten His authority over all of life. If anything, they remind us greatly how much we need Him and how much we need to be thankful for all the good things. They usher in opportunities for His power and love, provision and healing to flow directly from heaven into our daily lives. Though it may not seem like we’re doing much, praying for a hurting loved one and letting them know we’re praying for them, may just in fact be the biggest thing we can do to comfort someone who has just had their world rocked. It’s at the core of a beautiful, powerful force waiting to be unleashed.
It’s the same force that took a devastating earthquake and turned it into a gorgeous snow-capped mountain. It’s the same force that used an explosive volcano to create a luscious, tropical island paradise. It’s the same force that will take your tragedy and turn it into a beautiful story to tell others of God’s glory. It’s the same force that brings us together, setting aside the petty differences, and reminds us how crucial it is for us to simply love one another. The force of God Himself is ready to flood into our tragic circumstances and broken hearts and cover us with comfort and healing, purpose and peace.
So, my friends… if you’ve just been given bad news and are trying to figure out how to recover or fight for your life or family or marriage, please, please know, you are not alone. There’s an entire community of people praying for you right now. Jenny and I are praying for you. Feel whatever you need to feel to get through each step of this journey, but never question that God loves you and sees you and will provide for you to get through this. He will not forsake you.
If you are wondering what you can do for someone in your life who is hurting, don’t over-complicate it. Just be there for them. Call, send cards, text, send all the chicken casseroles, and for God’s sake, pray! Pray they will experience God’s presence and healing every single day. Pray they will be overcome with His peace, even in the midst of the painful circumstance. Pray God will be glorified through this experience.
After the dust settles and the fight is over, the transformation will be clear and beautiful if we have let God into it.
This is a subject that is near to both Jenny and myself. Like many of you, we’ve walked both sides of these earth shaking events and are passionate about letting others know how much they are not alone now. In the coming weeks, you’ll hear much more from us about practical ways we can strengthen each other as we go through hardships. So stay tuned…