Almost everyday, for many years, I've spent time on the BlueWhite Rivals board reading all sorts of comments about Penn State football. I find it interesting to follow all the discussions about games, prospects, players and the future. It keeps me up to date with my favorite football team, the Penn State Nittany Lions.
But recently I was surprised to see a comment posted there with the title "Life is a B_ _ _ _ _, it really is!" Here is part of what the writer had to say. "I have seen countless stories of those seeking prayers for family members in need. Cancer, divorce, pets, other ailments, etc. For the most part, you never think it will happen to you .... Well, my dad texted my brother and I saying that he had stage 4 lung cancer. My wife is a pharmaceutical sales rep in Oncology and she basically gave me the grim prognosis that if it's classified at this level, it's metastasized to other organs and is terminal. ... My parents are divorced and my dad resides by himself in Ponte Vedra, FL. I guess my point is that if you hear countless other stories from others, keep in mind that a family member of yours might be next. It sounds a little morbid, but in today's world, it's a reality."
Yes, his story is very sad, but not uncommon today. Life can be very depressing at times. Hard experiences can happen to any of us at any time. And the replies which he received were not too comforting. Most had little that was really comforting or helpful to share. "Hang in there, it will all work out, you will make it, life goes on, etc." But then what do you say to one who obviously doesn't know the Lord and doesn't have any hope for the future?
I took quite a bit of time to write my reply. I prayed before I wrote. Then, I tried to share with him, in a very simple way, how the Lord can provide strength and peace when you are His child. But I doubt that it was of any help to him. And he is probably right, "life is a B _ _ _ _", especially when you don't have the Lord.
Now as a believer we do know that we are just pilgrims here. We are traveling through this life with the knowledge that our real, perfect home is ahead. And we have the promises of the Lord that He will never leave us or forsake us. And we can probably testify that He never has. But life can be tough, even for believers. One of my favorite poems/songs written by Annie Johnson Flint hangs in our bedroom.
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep
Yes, as believers we are also not immune to the pain of this life. I have cried with those who have lost their spouses. I have struggled with those who were battling cancer. I have prayed with those who have dealt with serious family and marital problems. I have faced death in my own family. Just a few weeks ago my wife was critically ill. And together we have faced and continue to face several very serious physical challenges. Life can be so hard and draining at times. But there is one more verse to Flint's poem which sums it all up.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
Lord, help that our head knowledge of your promises may become our heart knowledge, experience, hope and strength as we face the trials of this life. May we sense Your presence and Your plan and Your peace as we walk through the dark valleys of our journey here on earth, led by our Good Shepherd.
A friend recently sent me a link to a new song. I can't say that it is one of my favorites, but the words struck home with me. "I know You're able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty hand. I know the sorrow, I know the hurt would all go away if You just said the word. But even if You don't, My hope is You alone." LINK