By Stephen French
How do you do it? This question, which refers to living and dealing daily with a tragedy and adversity in our lives, has been asked of me many times since July 1997 when my wife, Kathy, died in an auto accident. It is a question that I answer with confidence by simply saying, “I trust the Lord and he helps me through.” And for me this explanation is sufficient. But of late this statement has come to task with the question of “how” do you trust in the Lord to receive this help? “How do you do it?” This question has come by way of others who have suffered loss, have been betrayed by their mates, or suffered adversity. And it has made me stop and examine “how do you do it.” I will try to give an answer here as I can usually collect my thoughts better when they are written down.
First let me say that even though it has been over a year since Kathy went home there are still days when I have to “push back” from the job and activities that we did and let the Lord take over and “get me through the day.” There are and probably always will be times when the emptiness will creep in and try to take over. This emptiness can be triggered by a place we used to go, by a song we sing in the worship, by accidently laying my hand on the empty seat beside me in worship, or the hardship of another brother or sister who is hurting. I say these things to help you understand that “doing it,” making it through each day, can be and often is a challenge, that it takes effort, continually, to not let hurt and emptiness pull us down but rather stay the course. To keep the faith it takes effort to attain heaven alive and strong. This can only be done by believing, unwaveringly, in God and having total trust and confidence that he will see you through whatever your hurt is. Always remember that God does not abandon us, rather it is we who abandon him, and for a Christian, whether we realize it or not, when we abandon him is when we abandon hope and almost any chance of recovering from our hurt.
When you are hurting from loss or have been wronged, what do you do? Do you try to figure out what has happened and in so doing try to find someone to blame? Who do you blame? Someone else, your mate, your friend(s), yourself, GOD? To try to place blame is to try to hide, divert attention, or pass judgment. The one thing blame cannot and will not do is to help us, to heal the hurt. Instead it leaves the wound of hurt open and festering and if not healed will kill you spiritually and possibly physically. Do not try place blame, rather forgive. Forgive and ask God for guidance through the hard times. When was the last time you had been hurt and upon ending your day looked back at your day and could not remember when you had not been praying to God for help, guidance, assurance, and maybe even forgiveness? Or do you look back on your day and cannot remember praying, all you remember is anger and hurt? Brethren pray often (Eph. 6:18), pray fervently (Jas. 5:16), pray together if possible(Acts 12:5-17), let your brethren know so they may pray for you and with you (Acts 12:5-17; Jas. 5:16). Never overlook the comfort, help, assurance, moral and physical support of a righteous brother or sister. I say this again because it is so important, we often do not access the strength of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Instead we hide from them when they are the ones who could be a very big part in “doing it.” In many ways they are often the answer God has sent to our prayers. How do I know this? I know this to be true by experience.
As you can see there is no magic, no easy way out of a situation. It takes prayer, work, and above all patience — patience to not give up on God and forsake him. Always remember that our time on this earth is short. We all know that the Bible says our life is as a vapor that appears for a while and vanishes away. And yet as we spend our life here living it one day at a time it is all too easy to lose sight of how short life is. No matter your age, think back as far as you can. How far back is that? Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or more years. How long does it seem like? Most likely we will remember many events with the clarity of yesterday, literally. But our age dictates that these events occurred a long time ago as the human life is measured. Now look forward, are there more days behind than ahead? We must all remember the remainder of our life will seem to pass at least as fast as our past and, as most can attest, will pass much more quickly. Always try to keep our time here in perspective. Look to the end with anticipation of going home to God and it will help you to withstand the current trials as you will now realize they really will not last very long at all. And when it is time for us to return to God, we will be able to look back at our present trouble, our hurt, our trial, our adversity, and see that it too will seem like it was only yesterday. The one big difference between now and that time is that at that time all of our hurt will be taken away and only joy will remain.
These are just a few thoughts on the questions of “how do you do it?” I know they are not all conclusive, but my hope is that they will point you in the right direction, and hopefully re-enforce the direction you are going already. May God bless and keep us all under his watchful care until our time here is finished.