I have learned that pain has a purpose, which at the peak of discomfort, brings us little consolation. Although hindsight has often proven our pain's value. In fact, I have found pain to be one of life's most effective teachers in our lives. My grandmother seems to find a way to pick up the pieces, always believing things will get better. Bad news, sudden devastating, unexpected catastrophe, the words a loved one has passed--how do we handle this when the pain seems so unbearable. He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. Psalms 22:24. God will never let you down!
We're all just one lesson of pain from our knees. Shattering loss happens to all of us at some time in our lives. How do we deal with it? How did our ancestors deal with it? How did they get past the spiritual, physical, and emotional paralysis that often accompanies pain? How did they afford giving up? The answer is their families, their Bible and their God.
My great-great-grandmother Rhoda Brown Williams Watson, was a woman of faith. As her brothers took over when her father passed to be leaders of the household, they reminded the women of their family that they played an important role of support to the men. One story that was passed in our family was Rhoda's hope her brother Robert would return home from the Civil War. All of her brothers had returned except Bob. No one knows more than Rhoda about the hope offered in l Corinthians 10:13. "God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it." Robert had been separated from his brother during the war. At the end of the war, William, Abraham, and David came home to tell their sister Rhoda that Robert probably had been killed during the war. Her anger at her brothers was beyond words. They were to all go to war and promised to stay by each other's side. Even though Rhoda agonized over her brother missing, she never gave up hope. She and her step-sister, Sarah Martin, kept their faith that their brother and Sarah's sweetheart would come home. Six months after the war, William received a telegram from the Sisters in Denham Springs, La., that Robert had been in their care since he had been injury in the war.
"When I look back, I see that even as I struggle, Jesus was the One that carried me and gave me life for here and hereafter. Jesus is the only way of escape in terrible situations. As believers, we truly can find strength to overcome and endure trials through the love of Christ."
Rhoda believed that God would bring her brother home. William and Abraham took a riverboat on the Mississippi River down to Louisiana to collect their brother. In meeting up with their brother, tears began to flow. Robert told them he just wanted to go home to be with his family. Soon after arriving home, he asked his brother to take him to the entrance of Brown's Lane. He wanted to walk down the road and meet the rest of the family. Rhoda was out in the barn and heard her stepmother Catherine yell, "He's home." Rhoda ran out to the Lane and started running down it to meet her brother and came to a dead stop; she didn't recognize this man! He was limping from his injury, his hair was grey, his face sunken in to where his cheek bones were the outline of his face. In times of acute distress, the wheels of everyday often may grind to a screeching halt. We feel helpless, clueless as to how to take care of the bumps in the road; it's hard to set the wheels back in motion and move forward. But Robert knew all the suffering, loss, and illnesses he had acquired from the war, he knew his wagon wheels just needed a little G-R-E-A-S-E. The men in our family knew it was important to grease the wheels of the wagons and keep up the maintenance in their family's life.
Our great-great-great-grandfather had taught his family well. They knew in order to keep their family going they had to keep the wheels Greased. In spelling out the word Grease, each letter stood for the maintenance of their family:
*G: Grieve. It's okay. Allow yourself to feel the pain. Allow yourself to feel life's losses. The death of a dream can feel as real as the death of a loved one. Denying or ignoring reality only postpones the inevitable. Keep your eyes on Jesus through the pain and grief process of life. Remember, it's God's power, His presence, that ultimately heals us. God will take care of our broken hearts and heal our pain.
*R: Release. Tell God your feelings out loud. Our God understands loss. He gave his dearly beloved Son, who was beaten, killed, tortured, and hung on a cross like a criminal. Let the world know by screaming out loud, cry, stomp your feet. As in the War Room movie, the lady tells the Devil to get out of her life and her family's life. She has had enough. Our God is number one, he has big shoulders! He can handle it. Know that crying and energy lags are normal post-crisis escapes. Your body is in crisis mode, and it's reacting to your spirit trying to reconcile your pain. We all sometimes feel as though we have nothing else to give. It is important to set time parameters so healthy release doesn't continue indefinitely and become an unhealthy and unproductive anger.
*E: Establish support. Family, friends, church family. Accept their strength and support when yours is gone. Let their encouragement, emotional support, and faith help you to gain back your emptiness. Simply accept their strength to bolster you when yours is gone.
*A: Act. In other words, get off your rear. Put one foot in front of the order. Keep living. Don't just crawl into your closet or bed and hide. You may feel as though the world is about to end, but long-term happiness trumps short-term sacrifice. Step by step, baby steps, minute by minute, the main thing is just keep on moving in the right direction, and eventually you'll get there. If need be, ask a friend to take those steps with you.
*S: Seek out God. It's important for us to feed our souls. Scripture is there to guide us. Seek out your minister or priest. Gain a prayer partner.
*E: Exercise. Now you have to pull yourself together. Realize that pain comes in all parts of life. Every generation had their own life experiences, and they all handle them differently. Set a specific regular routine, not just a light promise, to "make time with God and let him help you handle the pain and loss." Then hold yourself accountable by a checklist. The movie "The War Room" is a life lesson within itself. The movie, shows us that generations past and present need to make God a priority, and in doing so, God makes us a priority.
Next, week I will finish the story about Robert Alexander Brown returning home after the war, the lost of his younger brothers during the war, and how his faith saw him though. Robert came to understand that God is not our afflictor, no, He's the helper of the afflicted. That's you and me. He's not the enemy; He's part of our lives. He makes a huge difference to our healing hearts if we let him.
I welcome all comments, inquires and suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Ms. Sylvia.