Posts Tagged ‘heroes and heroines’

Life can be a puzzle at times, don’t you think? Such a confusing mixture of celebrations, disappointments, happiness, sadness, outstanding successes and downright disasters.

This past week, I heard from four different friends, all facing huge issues in caring for their children. These range from life-threatening physical illness to equally life-threatening mental illness and personality disorder to rearing children with developmental disabilities to discovering your children have been abused by a paedophile. My heart goes out to each one. They are all amazing heroes and heroines, trying to keep their heads above water in the midst of such anguish, exhaustion and frustration.

Each one has a faith in God they are trying to cling to, despite everything. Their faith may be very weak and wavering right now, but it is there still—that longing to know God hasn’t deserted them, that somehow, some day, they will be able to make sense of it all or at least see things from a different perspective. I grieve with them and understand their wondering where God is, as they watch their children suffer. Anything I say sounds trite, so I merely listen and pray and try to do what I can to help.

Then in the midst of this, I attend a friend’s party to mark a special milestone birthday. It is wonderful to catch up with several who have been a rich part of my own life, to laugh and rejoice together at the way God has led us and to be so thankful for the blessings we have received. On top of this, I myself receive news that a book of mine has reached the finals of a Christian writers’ award. I am so grateful to God—yet how can I rejoice at this small success in the light of the hugely difficult issues my friends are facing? How can I wrap my brain around it all?

I open my bible and find I am up to Isaiah 40. Certain phrases jump out at me: ‘Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. … All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. … The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. … He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. … “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?’ Then comes the clincher:

Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. … Is 40:28-29

What can I say then? Our Almighty God will always be exactly that. We may never understand why God does not intervene in these terrible situations, yet we are not forgotten and our pain is not ignored. The cross makes that very clear.

God has reached out and shared our pain. This I know for sure. And God still reaches out, strengthening us to hold fast, however difficult the journey.

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I write novels, with hopefully inspiring heroes and heroines in them.  But I have decided I don’t need to look very far at all to find the real heroes and heroines of this world.  Mostly, they see themselves as ordinary people not doing anything special other than getting on with their lives as best they can.  Yet their courage and determination in the face of great difficulty make me feel very humble indeed.

A few weeks ago, I talked with one such person – a friend from years ago.  Back then, both our families had great hopes and plans for the future, yet my friend’s journey unfolded in a way she – and we – would never ever have envisaged or hoped for.  You see, after some years, certain actions of her husband tore the family apart, causing them untold pain and grief.

Eventually the husband married someone else and my friend was left to care for her children and somehow get over her own grief in the process.  She had always been a hard worker, but now she redoubled her efforts to care for the family.  She managed to put a deposit down on an older cottage and continued working at whatever job she could get, often packing two or three into one day.  Eventually both children left home, although one would return from time to time needing constant support from past emotional trauma.  At one stage, my friend took in a refugee family, helping to get them on their feet.  Then just as she thought she might slow down a little, she had to pay for expensive repairs to her house, almost losing it to the bank in the process.  And soon after, she found herself sheltering her adult child and grandchild again, after a relationship breakdown.

Now, nearing retirement age, she is desperately tired but needs to continue working. As we talked, I found myself wishing I had a few thousand dollars spare – anything to lift my friend’s burden.  Yet she wasn’t complaining – in fact, quite the opposite.  I tried to tell her she deserved not just one medal but many – yet she wouldn’t hear of it.  ‘Well, what else can you do?’ she said in a matter-of-fact voice. ‘You just get on with it.’ She went on to talk about how thankful she is and how hard it is for so many others right now.  We mentioned the homeless people sleeping on the streets – and it was then that her words touched me most.

“You know, when I see these people, I really wish I could help.  I often say to Jesus, ‘But I have two coats!’ And yet he knows I do need them for my work.”

Two coats, I think to myself – I have so much more than my friend, but yet she feels greedy having two coats!  She has learnt to go on loving, despite the knocks that life has dealt her and to continue having that soft, merciful heart towards others that so delights God’s own heart.  Her attitude challenges me deeply, as do some words the apostle John wrote:

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

So how about you?  Do you have two coats?

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