We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure,
so that we despaired of life itself.
Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves
but on God who raises the dead.
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril,
and he will deliver us again.
On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us …
2 CORINTHIANS 1:8-10
A life crisis or prolonged suffering has a way of revealing our deep weaknesses and unhealed wounds. Whatever wounds we may have been able to deny, ignore or cover up seem to come to the surface and demand attention at the very moment we feel least able to deal with them. That is what happened to me when Dave was battling cancer.
If the only thing we had to deal with was the crisis itself – it would not be that difficult but it usually does not happen that way. We have the main crisis to deal with and the stress of that crisis radiates out and has an impact wherever there are underlying wounds or weaknesses.
It is a bit like an earthquake that shatters what was once a calm, peaceful landscape. The ground tears apart in one place leaving a gaping hole in a road – it shifts in another place causing the side of a building to collapse and somewhere else it leaves a visible fissure on the surface of the ground. The underlying weaknesses existed all along but they did not become visible until the earthquake hit.
So what do you do when a crisis shatters the landscape of your life? Well I can tell you that first, don’t try to patch over the surface. Second dig deep – go to the root cause. Of course this is easier said than done.
My first instinct was to patch the cracks. Being Jan, I tried to keep everything under control. I felt secure when things were under control. So I tried to fix it all. But long before I could patch up the surface – I ran out of energy. I literally wore myself out trying to smooth over the shattered landscape of our lives and I ended up in a deep dark depression.
I was beside myself. I’d always been able to handle my life. I’d always been able to patch up the surface but this time there were so many fissures and holes and tears I couldn’t take care of them all. Like the Apostle Paul, I despaired of life itself – I was at the end of myself. I felt shame and guilt that only deepened my depression.
Although that was a terribly painful place to be – reflecting back it was also a very good place. Because just like with the Apostle Paul this happened that I might not rely on myself to fix everything but on my Lord. When I reached that point of total weakness, I made a conscious choice to surrender to God.
My healing process began as I started to learn the Truth from God’s Word. The Holy Spirit started showing me in the Scripture the lies I operated my life by which included believing that I was responsible for everyone and everything around me. (No wonder I was exhausted!) Through His Word, God showed me that while I am supposed to help others with their burdens I am not responsible for all because we are each responsible to carry our own load (Galatians 6:2,5).
I also believed that I needed to earn God’s love but through His Word, He showed me that He loved me because of who I am – a child of God with wounds and weaknesses – not because of what I do (1 John 3:1).
As strange as it may seem, I am now very thankful that my life fell apart when it did. The foundation I had for dealing with life was very weak and when the first major crisis hit – it started to crack – because my trust was in me rather than God. Scripture warns us …
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.
JEREMIAH 17:5-6 (NLT)
Through our crisis – our time of suffering – as terrible as it was – I experienced the transformation that Romans 5 talks about.
We know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
God strengthened my character – giving me a new foundation – a new trust and hope in Him – enabling me to endure any future crisis by relying on Him because I (like the Apostle Paul) know that he will deliver us again.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
JEREMIAH 17:7-8 (NLT)
On the journey with you,