Have you ever experienced your life suddenly turning upside down? Maybe life was going great one minute, then something happened and everything changed. Not temporarily, but permanently. Without warning, the course you were on suddenly veered into another direction.
A couple of years ago, my world collapsed around me. Life was simply one disaster after another. Physical health issues, financial issues, a house break in, family issues, arguments, deaths, and eventually emotional collapse. Life simply couldn’t get much worse. My faith faltered. I kept asking, why God? Why me, Why now? What did I do wrong? In some cases I humbly had to ask for forgiveness. In other situations, the damage was caused by forces outside of my control. In my desperation, I screamed and cried out to God for help and answers. But it seemed that God was silent for a very long time. Why? I still don’t know.
The book of Job is one of those amazing stories that is so easy to relate to when life’s challenges become too much. Job’s unalterable faith is astounding and inspiring. His friends’ judgemental attitude to him is so typical of the way others often criticize and ostracize us when our life falls apart. We must have done something wrong; God must be punishing us for something; God must be trying to teach us something. Worse yet, we feel abandoned and alone.
There is a tendency among people to back away from others when there is an apparent emotional crisis. A physical crisis – that seems to be easier for us to pitch in and help, at least for a while. A physical health crisis is tangible, curable. The need for help is clearly evident. Bring over some food; offer to help pick up groceries, run errands, etc. But emotional crisis or family problems? How do you help in those situations?
It’s scary being around someone who doesn’t “have it together”. Is it a fear of saying the wrong words, or doing the wrong thing? “What if she/he gets mad at me?” “Maybe she just needs space!” Actually, the help needed during such a crisis isn’t much different than a physical crisis. The “ill” person still needs to eat and feel loved and be taken care of by others. Seeing the crying and hearing the venting can be very difficult. However, sometimes a listening and smiling friend can mean the difference between a long recovery or a short recovery. Sometimes it can mean the difference between choosing life or death.
God’s ways are often mysterious to us. How and why he allows us to suffer is up to him. Why he is silent, or doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want, is often confusing and upsetting. But I believe that our darkest hours bring forth the most beautiful sunrise. After all, it’s always darkest before the dawn.
A prayer I wrote following some of my darkest days:
Dear Father God:
Thank you for loving me in good times and in bad. Thank you for not chastising me when I have doubts and fears. Thank you for listening and always being there for me. Thank you for getting me back on track when I fall off.
I look at all the negative things that have happened in my life and ask why? Somewhere in me, I know that they were all meant for my good, but consciously it’s hard to accept. Why did I need so much hardship or correction? Was I really that insensitive or stubborn? Was that the only way I was going to learn what I needed to learn?
I want to be a beautiful person, inside and out. Too often I measure myself by negative comments made by others or how I view myself in the mirror. I try so hard to be all things to all people, but it just doesn’t work.
I guess I’ve been trying too hard in my own strength. I need to rest in your love and faith and know that you have all things worked out for my good.
I don’t understand my life, Lord. Please forgive my unbelief and lack of faith. Help me to be happy despite my circumstances. Give me the strength to cope when my life is falling apart, and when my body is in pain. Please bring my family back together again.