when life gets hard

My heart is heavy today with several people filling my thoughts. One is a coworker whose son was killed in a truck vs semi accident. This kind hearted man’s only other child died just 15 short months ago. How does one process losing both children in 15 months? Both his children are gone. I can barely wrap my mind around it, much less contain the heartache overflowing from a parent’s heart. Last night in the fury of the thunderstorms and tornados that hit our area, my best friend’s barn/garage/man cave was destroyed with significant damage to their vehicles and property. The house has some damage as well, but my friends came through the storm without injury. On top of the devastation and clean up to be done, this morning they received a dreaded call that the husband’s brother passed away. Simply too much to take in the next breath. Yesterday we received an email that a close friend of the family, who has supported Travis and me with cards, prayers and emails over the years, is preparing for a possible diagnosis of colon cancer this week. This is a godly woman whom I respect and look up to, who is always close with an encouraging note, a birthday card with confetti falling from the envelope, with a sweet smile, a long hug and the promises of believing prayers. And our sweet Ryan is struggling with his GI system once more. I’m waiting for a return call from the doctor to find out what we should do next in anticipation that his entire GI system may be shutting down again. It’s now been a month of worry, a month of trying new meds, a month of being off, a month of frustration with the specialist’s office staff.

In the midst of the searing pain my heart feels for so many I care about, there is a natural tendency to move toward negativity, to invite anger and disbelief to dance with my thoughts. Some days life feels very much like a long swim upstream against the natural flow of the bounding waters. It’s a fight to keep moving and believing good things are just around the bend, just a tad bit farther than my eyes allow me to see, to take in the next horizon, the next scene. It’s during these moments when my faith must kick in. When I must hold steadfast to the truth of God’s word. When my prayers must be firm, believing, trusting and frequent. I know God is good at all times, yet in the midst of pain, in the heartache of loss, in the turmoil of the unknown, it’s easy to stray. It’s easy to get caught up in the whys and the unknowns. It’s easy to allow anger and negativity to suffocate the trust, the good.

Years of experience tell me things happen for reasons we simply cannot understand at the time. In the midst of the storm, it is sometimes impossible to see the sunny days ahead or reflect on the beauty behind. Yet the track record of the Father I serve is one of good, of beauty, of provision. A few steps down the road the picture becomes clearer, the steadfast love of my Lord more evident, the pain and the disruption to daily routine a little acceptable. Because raw edges, unknown tomorrows, shearing pain and unfathomable circumstances are unfortunately a part of life. A part of God’s plan for us even when we can’t see the outcome or the big picture. For me, it comes down to a matter of trust, of strengthening my ability to do long suffering, of relying on others to care for me, of teaching me the hard lessons I would rather ignore. And more importantly, it is a time to reach out to the hurting around me in their time of need. We live in community and in this place, friendship and outreach matter.

In the end, every circumstance is a choice to either trust and accept or harden and anger. Sometimes the choice is clear and sometimes it’s a long season of hurt and frustration. I know I will never understand, this side of heaven, why things happen. I’m certain we aren’t supposed to see the big picture. I only know my life is in God’s hands. All of our lives are in God’s hands. There is no better place to be even though sometimes I do question.

Isaiah 41:10 ~ Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 ~ Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. He is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water—a tree not bothered by the heat nor worried by long months of drought. Its leaves stay green, and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit.

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