Wednesday, November 19, 2014
What if it doesn’t get better?
Many people enter therapy hoping to resolve some crisis or change some behavior to restore a chaotic life to normal. A couple wants to work on communication for a better marriage. A family wants to start working together for a better future. An addict wants to stop using for a better life. But what if therapy can’t solve the issue? The marriage ends in divorce. The bipolar diagnosis will require a lifetime of medication. The condition is terminal.
So many of life’s trials are not temporary valleys, they are permanent detours on a journey that no one ever saw coming. They are life altering events that forever change our landscape and our perspective. But there can be healing and recovery even in the most dire of circumstances. I want to offer a process and a practice that will create an environment where healing and restoration are possible.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:2-5
I never knew the truth of these words until my wife was diagnosed with colon cancer. She recalled us studying this passage together, months before, and told me, “I guess this is when we have to consider it joy and pray for wisdom.” And we have been blessed for doing just that. Two years later, after chemo and remission, our story continues. Many are not as fortunate. But Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” In Christ, there is an eternal hope that even in the face of death, we may continue to trust in Him.
THE PROCESS – SUFFERING – PERSEVERANCE – CHARACTER – HOPE
Romans 5:3-5 lays out the Biblical plan for dealing with loss. It is a recognition that loss is a part of life. Suffering becomes something to be anticipated, not avoided. The first step in the process is to acknowledge the suffering, embrace it. This does not mean enjoy it or revel in it, only that we must know the depth of it and face it, knowing that it will bear fruit. Perseverance will involve the next step, grief. Losing a relationship, a dream, a future, requires a time of reflection and mourning. Psychologist, Henry Cloud says, “Grief is the one pain that heals all others.” The point is not to grin and bear it, but to grieve the loss by saying good-bye. The backdrop of this process is faith. When one has suffered and persevered, true character is proven in the fire of trial, resulting in hope. Hope is a confidence in God to restore and redeem, a faith that life can still be lived abundantly.
This is an easy process to describe but there is a vital ingredient that must be in the process - relationship. You were not designed to go through this process alone. Genesis 2:18 says,
“It was not good that the man was alone.” You will need other people, trusted, safe, people to accompany you on the journey. They will acknowledge the hurt with you. They will weep with you. When you don’t have the strength to endure any longer, they will persevere with you. And through their support and encouragement they will allow you to hope.
There will likely be things in your life that will not get better. There is no need to fear these events or run from them. We have been designed to endure the hardships of life. We have been given a process and a practice to ensure that we not only survive these times but that we thrive in spite of them.
by David Rogers