How to Deal with An Abundance of Hard News
Last week I sent you a blog post one morning about suffering. That evening I got a shocking call that my aunt had gone into the hospital with stomach pain and would be coming out with a grim diagnosis of stage IV cancer. The next morning I had a short text from my close friend who had been caring for her mom: “Mom is with Jesus.”
So many painful circumstances surround me on all sides, but I want to tell you something wonderful from my own experience: God likes to encourage us. We often say there are two things for sure in life: Death and taxes. But I say to you that the two things for sure in life are hard times and encouragement.
A few days ago, as I felt weighted down by all of the sadness and struggle around me, I had been quietly acknowledging that this world is very broken and asking God how I could live victoriously in the middle of it. He heard me (and can there be anything more encouraging than being heard?) Into my path, he brought this verse to answer my question:
Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Paul fully expects the believers to be under pressure. That’s what the word “affliction” means. He’s not shocked or horrified that they would have hard times. As Americans we are instilled with a “life should be all good” mentality, but I’ve been trying to get over that. The New Testament repeatedly says, “Life is going to be hard. Count on it.”
But joyful in hope means we have an expectation of good in our lives because God is good. This command greatly bolstered my soul. Even with the words “disease” and “cancer” entering into our family, I must live in hope. God is going to show himself in this hard season, and there is going to be beauty and love and glory in our lives this year.
Paul says we are to be patient in hard times. That means we stay. We don’t run away from pain. Instead, we remain calm and walk through the pain, leaning on Christ.
And we pray.
Because God is our help, we go to him with every heartache, every anxiety, every need –joyfully waiting for him to step in and show his power, love, and ability to provide and care for us. We hold tight to our faith that God is good.
We pray and say thank you, because when we hunt for the good we find it. We see God’s hand right in the middle of pain, and we give thanks with joyful hearts.
We pray words of worship: “Lord, you are great. You are a provider. You love us. You know how suffering feels. You are kind and good to your people, pursuing us all the time with goodness and mercy. You are healer. You are trustworthy.”
I went to the memorial service for my friend’s mom yesterday, and her daughter spoke to us in a gentle, soothing voice. She said, “Mom wants you all to know that you shouldn’t be afraid of cancer.” (Did she have any idea how many in our church family were staggering under the news of cancer that day?) She went on to tell us of all the beautiful, good things they witnessed in their mom’s life after the diagnosis. After the diagnosis! Oh how encouraged I was, and joyful hope rose up in me for my aunt and for our family as we walk through this year. God is going to shine his light. He is going to be good to us, just like he was on the days before the terrible news.
We can count on hard times coming, but we can also rely on well-timed, perfectly designed encouragement while we’re in the thick of it. Ask the Lord to encourage your weary, hurting soul, and he will do it.
I found your blog today while sitting at work on a Saturday during a relatively slow time. I am a Funeral Director. My job allows me to see the amazing works God does in families and I also see some families who are just needing our Savior so badly my heart aches for them.
I am going through a hard time personally right now which makes coping with the daily grief at work even more difficult sometimes, and I just know it was God working that brought me to your blog today. Reading so many of your posts have encouraged me. Thank you for being so open, honest, and transparent. Thank you for sharing His word when I am needing to hear it from others. I’m reading it through tears of pain and joy and I know it’s my Lord working.
I’m sorry I’m just now reading your note. We’ve been in the process of moving, so I’m just now getting back into the swing of things.
What an incredibly important role you have as funeral director -seeing people at one of their lowest moments in life. I pray God will give you many opportunities to encourage believers and shine his light to those walking in darkness.
I’m sorry you’re walking through such a hard time. Here’s a hug for you, and I’m glad you came by! May the Lord continue to encourage you in a very special way.
Thanks Christy for these encouraging words.
As always, your words remind God loves me and mine, is good and faithful, and knows how suffering feels. Thank you for being one of his faithful servants in your writing and life and encouraging us with His encouragement of you.
Thank you Christy. I can’t tell you how timely these words are. The past 5 months (and continuing forward) have been the most difficult of my life. Often I have been unable to find God. I refuse to turn from Him because I can’t deny what He has done for me in the past. Your words about God’s encouragement are helping me to see God.
I’m sorry these months have been so hard for you, Mary. I pray the Lord will show you how close he is in the painful times.
Good, timely word! Thanks!
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