You remember the feeling. Whether from a cheap shot on the football field, a sweaty-handed monkey bar slip or an unfortunate double dog dare involving a roof and flying, most know the sensation of getting the wind knocked out of us. A forceful blow to the solar plexus brings the dome-shaped diaphragm muscle to a halt while simultaneously emptying our lungs of air. We cannot breathe and that is terrifying.
It has been a season of sucker-punches for those I call friends. A freak jet ski accident claimed the life of my friend, Lynne’s son-in-law. Another friend, Kevin, lost a custody battle which leaves his youngest in a neglectful situation and him in tremendous debt. Even more grave is the report from a McAfee classmate of John’s, Jessy, in Liberia where the Ebola virus is rampant. He writes, “People are dying day by day. Please pray for the people of Liberia.”
Because of instances like these and hundreds more, hope seems in short supply. Who can begin to forge an answer for the unexplainable tragedy, life-loss and just plain struggle to survive so many face? Not me. In fact, anyone who claims to have life completely and confidently figured out scares the fool out of me. While I cannot claim to begin to have the answers,what I do know is that Christ is my best example of how to do life, my survival of any trial is a gift meant to be given to other people and there is always room for hope.
1. Guess what? Jesus was o.k. with not knowing everything so I should be, too
In Mark 13:32 with the cross not far in the distance, Jesus admonishes his disciples to be alert for his return and claims that no one but the Father knows the day or hour that will be, not angels in heaven, nor even the son. Did you catch that? Jesus, who is headed to lay down his life out of obedience to his father in utter selflessness acknowledges that even he does not need to know when his return is scheduled. You may think he’d be curious about such things, right? This boldly exemplifies Jesus’ trust in God. If Jesus did not demand answers before he obeyed perhaps we can learn something here.
2. We are not responsible for what befalls us but we are responsible for what we make of it
Dallas Cowboy’s Jason Witten, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, grew up with an abusive father. At 11, his mom and brothers fled and moved in with his Grandfather. The Boys and Girls Clubs in Elizabethtown, Tenn., helped him, “It was a challenging childhood for me and that was a place where it seemed like you go in those doors and there were people who truly cared about me.”
In turn, Jason has taken his experience and reached out to encourage others. The polar opposite of some NFL players, he created a mentoring program for the children of women in domestic abuse shelters called The SCORE Foundation. Jason Witten is inspiring because instead of hiding the abusive past he survived, he seeks to give a hand up to those in the midst of their pain.
Whatever you have survived, there is someone in your life who needs to know that they can make it, too.
3. There is always, always, always room for hope
In the Summer of 2009, we had the wind knocked out of us. An accident left Maggie Lee in the Pediatric ICU. Sweet Dr. Travis Stork (Host of The Doctors,) sent a simple phrase through a friend of mine: there is always room for hope. Though our hope of her miraculous recovery was not meant to be, God has used that truth in my life to fill the expansive chasm of grief and lift me in a way which only he could.
When tragedy hits hard, dare to hope that despite all appearances your life is not over, your prayers are still heard and that one day you will feel normal again. Even if doing so makes you feel as deluded as The Black Knight in The Holy Grail, dare to hope. There is always room for it.