“… And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
JOHN 8:32 (NLT)
Janette and Bill needed a fresh start so the chance to move out of state for a new job opportunity looked like a divine gift. But life after the move was complicated. Bill’s new job didn’t turn out to be what he was promised. Janette was still feeling the pain of wounding words from her previous employer, which made it difficult to handle the stress of her new job. Their children were feeling lonely and insecure as they adjusted to new schools and tried to find new friends. Then just when Janette didn’t think she could handle one more challenge – Bill was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer.
So far from the only home and support system they had ever known, they faced cancer surgery, a colostomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, more surgery and a host of complications and unexpected bills. Janette shifted into ‘survival mode’ and pushed herself to get through each day but the prolonged stress took its toll. She began to experience anxiety attacks – her heart would beat so fast she thought she would die. She was so exhausted she could barely get out of bed in the morning. Fatigue, crying spells, hopelessness, anger, fear and isolation became part of her daily life.
What made things worse was that Janette was dreadfully afraid that she and Bill had done something to cause the difficulties they faced. She had been taught that suffering was almost always caused by personal wrongdoing or a lack of faith. So she believed that she and her husband were somehow responsible for what was happening to their family. Yet she had no idea where they had gone wrong and she couldn’t figure out what horrible sin deserved so much suffering.
No wonder Janette’s perspective on life was shattering. Her emotional health, her views of God and her perspective on suffering were all crumbling under the stress of circumstances and the burden of a perspective that wasn’t true. Although she sensed that she wasn’t seeing things clearly, she was afraid to ask for help. What if her newly made friends at church thought the whole ordeal was due to her personal sin or spiritual weakness too? Where would she find help then?
Fortunately, Janette’s new friends refused to stand by and do nothing. They knew she was hurting and encouraged her to participate in a faith based support group at church. There she began to more closely examine what the Bible taught about suffering.
Then a widowed friend shared about how she struggled with depression following her husband’s death. Her honesty about a personal struggle surprised Janette. Having come from a setting where exposing weakness would result in harsh judgment, her friend’s vulnerability opened Janette’s eyes to the possibility of looking at what was really happening in her own life.
Prompted by another friend, Janette began to list the hardships and losses she had recently endured instead of trying to ignore them. As she did, she realized why she felt overwhelmed, sad and full of anxiety. Who wouldn’t be? The pain she felt wasn’t because of weakness. It was understandable in light of the traumatic losses she had experienced.
Once she faced the truth of those losses, Janette began to grieve. It wasn’t an easy or pleasant process. It was especially heartbreaking for her to realize she no longer thought of God as being wise, loving and caring. But as painful as it was to confront those losses and to uncover the perspective that made them nearly unbearable, Janette is glad she did.
Today as a result of her Bible study and the support of caring friends she has a new perspective. She knows that while some suffering may come as a consequence of our actions of our actions, suffering also comes as part of life. Even more important, she knows that from God’s perspective suffering is an opportunity to draw close to him and she has rediscovered a closer, more personal relationship with her wise and loving God.
As Janette learned we rarely give our perspectives a second thought when life is going well. But when our perspectives shatter and fail us, it is essential to take a close look at what the truth really is so that we can make adjustments in our thinking. Sometimes when our perspective shatters we can finally see the truth clearly and that truth will set us free!
I always try to remind people that as painful as it may be,
truth is always your friend.
No matter how difficult it is to swallow, truth is reality
And that is where ultimate safety, growth and God are.
We need to know the truth.
Sometimes the truth leads us to what is hurting us …
Sometimes it leads us to what we need to change.
At other times it leads us to
what we need to do next in a relationship.
At still other times it leads us to
what our weaknesses or limitations are,
such as what we are not ready to deal with.
But whatever the truth is, it is our friend.
HENRY CLOUD & JOHN TOWNSEND
HOW PEOPLE GROW
On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky