Responding to Life’s Trials
By Diane Markins
Two women I know are going through difficult times. One (we'll call her Jen) lost her 32-year-old son to suicide, experienced the death of her beloved father-in-law and her husband of nearly 40 years, all within the past few months. Over the years she has known other hardships, including the loss of both parents and personal health issues.
The other woman ("Judy") has also known grief. She waited many years before finding "the right man" to marry, but after fighting valiantly to make it work, her marriage ended. Single most of her life, she is a consummate career woman; battling for position, security and survival. She has endured a physical problem that causes her to feel self-conscious and she too lost both parents. Most recently, she faced the death of a cherished pet.
So much in common, but their responses are polar opposites. Jen is sort of in a grief haze. She is desperately sad and lonely and is struggling to get through each day, but she keeps moving forward. She has invested in the lives of family and friends throughout her life; and they are rallying by her side. While she doesn't understand how all this loss could come to her, she doesn't blame God or turn her back on Him because she’s been in a loving relationship with Him all her adult life. She knows Him and that He’s still with her. He will take her through this trial.
Psalm 63:7-8 says,
“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
Jen has experienced this and relies on it as truth for this difficult trial.
Judy bounced back from her latest loss fairly fast; but doesn't have the same vast array of friends and family around her as Jen. She is often alone and lonely. She is angry in general and specifically toward God; even questioning whether she still wants to call herself a Christian.
Jen is taking her time as she processes and experiences the pain, allowing it to come in measured doses each day, then doing her best to take grief breaks.
Judy plunged into the pain and immersed herself there for a week or so, then got back up and is working at closing the door on her hurting soul. She puts on a happy face and appears to be coping well.
We all have tragedy invade our lives; big and small, short-term and sustaining, just as Peter says,
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
Our response to those awful times can define us and shape our future. If we don't properly deal and heal from a deep gash in our spirit, all our actions and relationships are impacted. We are less able to be honest and committed if we hold back and protect ourselves.
When crisis and pain hit, we need to walk through the fire instead of looking for a way out or around it, denying it or disguising it (alcohol, anger, etc). God’s promises can sustain us, like the one in 1 Peter 5:10,
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
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Diane Markins writes and speaks in a "high def, life-transforming style" about issues that impact daily living. She is the host of Bold Living radio show, but is also a speaker and writer. She enjoys travel and has been from Mexico to Zimbabwe but always loves coming home to roost in Arizona near her family.
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