When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:3
How long can you keep going under pressure before giving up? How many losses would you sustain before you find that a particular one seems too much to bear? The threshold of abdication is different for each of us. So, also, is the particular issue that defeats us. I’ve known parents who lost one child to cancer and they never recovered. They live in a perpetual suspension of emotions and they are internally numb.
But, I also know a woman who lost one child in childbirth; another in a custody battle. She lived childless. Both of her parents died when she was young and she was raised by surrogate parents who severely mistreated her. Though she visited the valley of hopelessness many times and flirted with total despair, she leaned on God for the grace and grit to get up. Now in her later years, she is a wise old soul who gives the gifts of compassion, advocacy, and wisdom to those who have no one to understand their pain. Her eyes search for those lost in themselves. She’s able to look deeply into their eyes, see their soul and call them out.
Losses don’t just involve a death. There can be the loss a dream. The loss of a marriage. The loss of a friend. The loss of respect. The loss of opportunity. The loss of years. The loss of health. Any of these can seem irreparable and any one of them could undo me.
Jaime and I were out running errands yesterday and had a really good talk about all of this. I asked her what she felt the difference was between those who give up after one tragedy versus those who find the strength in God to keep hoping, keep living. She suggested this as possible answer ~ If what we lose is the center of our world, we will succumb to despair.
If God is the center of my world, will that numb out the impact of my loss? Hardly. I’ll still need to grieve and it will feel like the end of the world. I’ll visit the edge of an abyss, but before falling, God catches me and keeps me.
This I know ~ Making Him my ‘center’ happens long before a crisis. It’s what I cultivate today.
Saying You’re my center will not sustain if You really aren’t. Make sure I’m not kidding myself. Test my affections. Amen