In the last seven days I’ve dealt with illness, heartbreak, jarring news and some really unfortunate realities about life. But I own none of it.
I have one friend who got her heart broken by her husband.
I have another who reached out to an estranged family member in an effort to reconnect. She got the door slammed in her face.
And one is dealing with his disease; a debilitating disease that we all know won’t get any better.
So in the last seven days I’ve listened. I’ve given advice. I’ve held the hands of those I care about and discovered this: I don’t have the answers. Because sometimes, there are no answers. Sometimes we can do everything ‘right’ in life, and still, we don’t get a happy ending. We get, a raw deal.
And I don’t know what to do about this. I don’t know what to think about this. I don’t know how to process it.
Because I love a happy ending.
Give me a novel where the protagonist overcomes challenges and comes out victorious, and I’m all in. I loved Jane Eyre. The Secret Life of Bees. Eat, Pray, Love.
And if it’s a movie, I’m a sap for inspiration. Think It’s a Wonderful Life. The Blind Side. The King’s Speech. I could name at least 20 more (Miracle, Soul Surfer, The Pursuit of Happyness…). You get the picture (no pun intended).
But as I see what’s happening to those around me this week, I have to admit, life is not always like an after school special (remember these?) or a novel or an inspirational movie. Many of us have a story that doesn’t/won’t have a happy ending.
And as strong as my faith is, as much as I know God has a plan, even as I know eternal life will be so much better than this earthly one, I still don’t get it. Or like it.
So today I am mulling. Thinking. Trying to figure it out. But…I’m getting nowhere.
I typically am one who looks for the silver lining. I hope for the best, I look to the good, and I count my blessings. And it helps. Gives me perspective. But still, sometimes the randomness of it all, the pain I see those around me go through, it gets to me.
So as much as I’d like to tie a bow of encouragement around today’s blog post, I simply don’t have one. Do you?
Do you have a way of dealing with pain? With unfair circumstances? With staying positive in the midst of tragedy? If so, I’d love to know it. Love to learn the secret. Love to really understand how others cope with unhappy endings.
I don’t think there are any words that can comfort the discomfort we feel as human beings. We can wrap some finely crafted words into some eloquent prose and it may help temporarily. But in the end, we are still left with that feeling of helplessness and emptiness inside. It is in searching for the answer to these feelings that we seem to exacerbate those same feelings we wish we weren’t feeling. At least that’s the way it is for me.
In a strange, yet therapeutic way, simply voicing your displeasure about the displeasure is sometimes the most comforting thing you can do. Acknowledging that it is there, that you don’t have all the answers, don’t have a well laid solution, and feel lost in the fog. Then, carry on to make the next person’s life that you touch one smile better. It might be just the thing that person needs. And that person may be you.
Thanks for your thoughts Dave. This makes sense to me. If we have to feel lost, at least we don’t have to feel lost alone. Maybe this is the point-learning and extending compassion.
We went over Proverbs 3:5 today at Bible Study; somewhat fitting…”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding”. I am also struck by the verse in ALREADY THERE by Casting Crowns; it is impossible in our human life to understand how things like this happen to people we love but one day we will see how all the pieces fit:
“One day I’ll stand before You
And look back on the life I’ve lived
I can’t wait to enjoy the view
And see how all the pieces fit”
Proverbs 3:5 is one of my favorite verses. I will have to listen to the Casting Crowns song more closely. I would love to see how the pieces fit but yet sometimes I think once there, knowing won’t be so important to me!
I completely understand the feelings you’ve expressed and have been there. Life is hard…sometimes so very painful. Every one of us has felt it in one way or another–just as you shared the experiences of your friends. Having just come through the hardest year of my life, my only hope is to keep my focus on God. In those dark, heartbreaking times, our faith is tested. Do we really believe that God is who He says He is? That He loves us, that He will work this out for our good, that He is sovereign and cares about every pain, every tear, every heartache? That if we turn to Him, cry out to Him, depend on Him, He will answer us? And what if He doesn’t answer the way we expect Him to? I had to face all these questions. And God didn’t always answer the way I expected Him to. But I do know that God is who He says He is. In the midst of all the fear, the pain, the sorrow, the uncertainty…He was there with me. And as long as I kept my focus on Him, I had peace in the midst of it all. There were still all the bad parts–but He blessed us in ways we could never had been blessed otherwise. He showed us areas of our lives that needed changing. He took us beyond ourselves and made us see how much we need Him and we need each other. He gave us a longing to meet the needs of those around us. I don’t know why God had us go through this trial; this side of heaven I’ll probably never know. But there is precious treasure to be found all along these painful journeys. And I know I’ll miss them if my eyes are not fixed on Jesus. Sometimes that may feel like a pat answer, but I’ve tried it and found it to be true.
Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.”
Thanks for your thoughts Sabra. I love that you say “my only hope is to keep my focus on God.” Also love hearing that you had peace through the difficult trials you have just experienced. Maybe the “purpose” of pain, if there indeed purpose, is to draw us closer to God. To increase our love,dependence on and faith in him. In truth these are difficult questions and we are privy to the answers! I still want to know/understand though. 🙂
We all have days and moments of pain, doubt and unanswered questions about the purpose of many things in life. That is what faith is all about, trusting God even when we do not have all the answers. Through all the pain and tears we can be certain that life still goes on, and we must trust that it all has a devine purpose. You were there for your friends, even when you did not have answers. We grow more from times of trials than we ever would if our whole life was one big rosy experience. But even with this knowledge, it is still hard to keep stong and find the reason for these painful times. ” Be still, and know that I am God” is a verse that always speaks to me. We can trust in Him, and know that the purpose is there even if we cannot see or feel it.
Yes, I am thinking about that a lot this week actually, how we grow more in times of trails than during those times of smooth sailing. And if it brings us closer to Him than it is worth it I think. I very much love the verse you reference, it speaks to me as well. I just have a little difficulty with the trust thing sometimes, but guess that is a very human trait! 🙂