Saturday, September 7, 2013

When the struggles are overwhelming

     So, our family has experienced another major crisis.  Another...major....crisis.
It would seem that in the past almost 3 years now, our family has been in constant crisis.  Some of which I've shared, and frankly, some of which I haven't, if you can believe that there has been even more going on than you already know about.
     In reaction to the challenges life throws us, I blog about thriving through adversity and I believe we are called to do that. I blog about the joy that God gives us in the midst of pain, and I know that this is real. I write about the fact that my vision and understanding of life has deepened and changed.  I now believe with every fiber of my being that life is about growing - growing in love, understanding, and in our ability to forgive, growing in our relationships to God, growing in our compassion, empathy and relationships to others, growing in our relationships to ourselves.  I believe all of this.  I believe it, I feel it, I hear that it is true, I experience it.  I write about being thankful and being more able than ever before to see the gifts and blessings that surround me every day - including the challenges.  This, too, is a truth, deep and powerful, that keeps me connected with God, with Good, with amazing and loving people.
     BUT...
     But...
     We know that the saying "God never gives you more than you can handle" is just about as bogus a statement as there is, for a number of reasons.  First of all, I'm not convinced that all of the junk we go through in this life was "given" to us by God.  People are born with free will and as a result, people hurt each other, they mess up, we create pain and problems for each other that God does not wish anyone to suffer.  Where is God when we are in pain?  On the cross as well, suffering too.
    Second of all, we all know that there are things that people can't or don't recover from.  We know this. Sometimes people do experience "too much" and they have break downs, or they commit suicide, or they lose their minds.  To a lesser degree, some people become bitter, cranky, jaded...they fail to live full lives because they've been "broken" by their experiences.  We try to support each other and care for each other enough so that this does not happen.  We encourage a faith that is life-giving and meaningful so that people experience the love and insight that they need.  We do what we can to help one another and ourselves grow through pain and develop scars that are places of strength rather than open wounds that are places which get picked at and continue to bleed.  Still, I think that everyone has moments when they just have to say "enough!"  "No more!"  "Done!"
    Where is the good news in this?  Where is the message of hope when what we are given seems to be over the top, over the limit, of what we can endure?
    There still is Good News.  The Good News is that "this, too, shall pass."  Having a larger vision - a vision that says that while today is hard, tomorrow is a new day - I think that vision is essential.  Annie's trite, cute song "The sun'll come out tomorrow" may seem Pollyanna-ish, but it is a truth.  If we can hang on for another day, things will change.  There's no choice in that.  Tomorrow will be different.  And while at times that may fill us with fear, mostly I think that is a great message of hope.  To put it in Christian terms, God does bring the resurrection out of death.  Yes, Jesus died.  Jesus died.  He suffered as we suffer and it was "too much" for him as well.  It overcame him and he died.  Unlike some of the Old Testament stories (like Daniel in the Lion's den and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego who are saved from the fiery furnace), death does get Jesus.  For three days evil does win.  But I find this much more hopeful than the stories of Daniel, et al, because we know this is real.  We usually aren't rescued from the furnace.  We usually aren't saved from the lion's jaws.  We have to go through it.  We do go through it.  The hope is not that we can avoid the pain.  The hope, the promise is that there is life on the other side of it.  And while the three days that Jesus experienced in the tomb may seem unfairly short in comparison to the three weeks, three months, three years (in my case) or three decades (for others) that we experience, none the less, we need to keep our eyes open for that day of resurrection.  Our faith promises us that it will come.  And that is the Good News that can pull us through.  Hope.  Hope for tomorrow.  Hope for the sun to come out.  Hope for a new day.