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Dealing with the chapters of your 'book of life'

Stephen Ministry

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POSTED: January 24, 2011 9:10 a.m.

When we were young, most everything was good. We made it out of high school and many of us went on to college, trade school, the military, the work force or maybe even hitchhiked across the country. Some of us married our sweethearts and settled down to buy homes and raise families. Others moved far away and some chose to stay nearby or in our hometowns, close to family.
We were young and inexperienced. Most of us had not yet encountered disappointment, sorrow, disease, job loss, career changes, the births of our children, the trials of life and the loss of people close to us — someone we loved dearly. We were gullible and really believed that life would always be happy and mostly carefree. We thought we knew most of the answers before we had the opportunity to “live out” the questions.
But everyone who lives long enough will eventually experience difficulties in the “chapters” of their lives that are not easy to understand. During those times, the pieces simply will not fit and, even to believers, God simply won’t make sense.
During those moments, we’re inclined to think, “Why me, why now?” That question is often left unanswered for years or, perhaps, for a lifetime.
I have always thought of milestone events and crossroads in my life as “chapters in my book of life.” Sounds like a daytime drama, doesn’t it? But I am confident that the chronology of our lives is best described as “wrapped and woven together” as a book of life, which spells out the reality of our travels in compartmentalized organization. Some of these “chapters” are brief and many others span a lifetime of continuous memories.
When entangled in life’s crises, it’s common — even for believers — to feel great frustration with God. We become unable to figure out what He is doing and, most of all, why. We keep asking the “why” question over and over. Even Jesus asked it, from the cross. Whether we are believers, many of us feel a profound sense of abandonment — even betrayal — when things go wrong and we just don’t understand. We ask “why” instead of trusting in God’s word and direction for our lives and everyone and everything in them.
When the hurt is deep enough, as in losing a loved one, we are often told and taught to believe “that it was God’s will.” Those who seek to bring us comfort tell us our departed loved ones are “in a better place.” We shake our head yes, as if we understand, but we believe the “better place” for our loved one is by our side. We don’t want God’s will to take our family members and friends from us.
We’ve always known that one day, the wonderful “chapters” of our lives would come to a close, but never wanted to think about that. And when the time does come, it always feels like it’s much too soon.
There are many chapters in our lives that have happy endings because we close them and go on to “write” the next chapters about marriages, the births of our children, vocations with fulfillment, being lauded by our peers, acts of kindness and benevolence, serving others and loving them as we love ourselves and making Jesus Christ our best friend.
There also are other chapters — those that, inevitably, will not have happy endings. Those pages will close with sadness, sorrow, guilt and grief, some beyond our wildest imagination. They may include issues like failure in school, job loss or a vocational change, a special-needs child, injury or disability, serious or terminal illness, divorce or the loss of a child, spouse or parent. It’s easy to deal with success in life, but most of us have a very difficult time dealing with life’s disappointments and tragedies. Even the faithful are often left confused and disillusioned, unable to understand sorrow and difficulties.
Stephen Ministers are trained to believe that caring changes lives. They are here to nurture the faith of the wounded, confused, downhearted and disillusioned, regardless of life’s difficulties. They can make a difference to those who aren’t sure how to deal with life’s certain chapters.
If you or someone you know needs help finding answers or is despondent and hurt, a concerned caregiver is only a phone call away. A Stephen Minister will walk with you to find the answers to your questions and help you to find strength and confidence to handle your needs. The Stephen Ministry is confidential, free and gender-sensitive. We’ll help you to find closure and comfort through faith-based values. Call 320-7840 or 876-2687 for an appointment.
This Stephen Ministry is a part of First Baptist Church’s caring ministry in Hinesville. Learn more about the program at stephenministry.org.

 

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