There are times in your life where you hit the ‘low’ notes. You come to a point where you wonder if you can keep going. Usually, these times coincide to the amount of stress you are handling.
At the end of 1991, I was working a part-time job (which I loved), dealing with a teenager, keeping up with housework, and experiencing the day-to-day dealings of a long-term marriage to the man I loved. In an instant, that changed when my mother went into the hospital. It was December 12th. A time when people were supposed to be happy, shopping, and thinking about snow and presents. My mother’s diagnosis of colon cancer didn’t fit in with that spirit.
She died forty days later after a few dedicated nurses stood firm against myriad doctors to allow her her last wish which was to die at home. She was in a coma at that point, but to this day I am convinced that she knew she had succeeded and passed peacefully away in her own bedroom.
Those days are a blur now. I remember simply ‘marching on’. In fact, my title for those time is my ‘Brave Little Soldier’ days. Everyone needed me for something–doctors, nurses, husband, father, daughter, employer. I was marching, but there were so many pieces of me missing that it was as if I ploughed through a fog.
There are many times when we feel as if we hit bottom in our lives. How do we survive them?
If we could guarantee a pill or a $19.99 ‘special’ that answered that question, we would spring to popularity.
No one, however, has that answer–but James takes a stab at giving us some clear direction.
James 5: 10-13-Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
So, first James reminds us that others have suffered. Since the beginning those that follow God are NOT given an easy path. In fact, they usually suffered MORE than those around them. They suffered through war, famine, personal attack, imprisonment, unpopularity, and many other situations. They ENDURED. James reminds us that they not only endured, they did so HAPPILY.
Happy when sad?
If not happy, then at least patient and eventually convinced that God was in charge and we needed to rely on His wisdom.
When going through the pits, don’t make foolish comments. Never Say Never Again is not just a James Bond notion. As unhappy as we may be, we are to be wise enough to keep from foolish dogma in making claims we may not be able to fulfill.
James gives us our solution to dealing with sadness.
PRAY…then SING. Most of the Psalms were actually made to be sung. The act of singing is comforting. Those in dire circumstances can often feel better when putting their feelings into music. We need only look at history to see how the gospel songs, the blues, even the art of chanting of prayers to music can lighten our paths.
To this day, I have no idea how i survived those forty days of suffering. I remember my father taking me to task for celebrating Christmas as we always did. His words stung me as he complained I was ‘unfeeling’ in celebrating. I knew, however, that he wasn’t so much striking out at ME but the circumstances which he could not control in losing my mother. I know my boss was unhappy that I was missing work (although I was going to the office almost every day and continuing to do my job as best I could in the circumstances!) Days after my mother’s death, she promoted my underling to my position. I was NOT a happy camper, as one might imagine.
If I learned nothing else during those times, I learned that prayer helps. People surrounding you can give aid and comfort…but God, alone, always walks with you.
So, pray, sing, and give over your sadness and march onward today. We will be ‘brave little soldiers’ at one time or another. Our ‘Commander-in-Chief’ rules over all and cares for us always…whether we are happy or sad!