Authorities are looking for adventurer Steve Fossett in the Nevada/California wilderness. A woman was found alive after nearly two weeks in the mountainous wilderness of eastern Oregon. Amazing stories of survival are all around us, if we just take the time to look. Sally has the Friday Five this week, much more serious than usual - but also, I think, important.
I am preparing this Friday 5 just before I take Chris into hospital for a cardioversion, right now we are all a little apprehensive. But this whole thing has got me thinking, so many of us are overcomers in one way or anoither, so many have amazing stories to tell of God's faithfulness in adversity. And so I bring you this Friday 5;
1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...
In the months after my first wife and I separated, I was more than a little angry with God. I spent many, many hours out in the carport of my house in Florida, smoking cigarettes and praying angry prayers. God was faithful just by listening until I couldn't rage anymore. What came after that was incredible peace, and a faith far deeper than I could have imagined possible. The wondrous thing is that God's faithfulness has reshaped my own as well. I've learned what forgiveness really means: I have to let the past fade away, to let go of any anger and resentment I may have as well. Blame? Gone. Desire for revenge? Got to go. I need to forgive myself as well: what's done is now done and no amount of wishing will change the consequences of the mistakes I've made. What is left is the desire to reconnect and rebuild what were once significant relationships in my life - I hope to be able to do that at some point in the near future.
2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul? If so what brought you through?
My dark night was the year or so following the above separation and, eventually, divorce. Friends and family got me through: I can't say enough about the incredible people by whom I have been surrounded. Some of them were good friends to my ex-wife at the same time, which might possibly be the most uncomfortable and difficult position possible. These are the kind of people for whom there just aren't words adequate to the praise you'd like to give them.
3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort.
Psalm 139, Romans 8, Isaiah 55, Revelation 21.1-4 are all passages of great comfort to me. Rich Mullin's song "Hold Me, Jesus" has comforted me often, especially when Beloved suffered a miscarriage of our first child last March.
4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?
Yes and no. To live is to know pain and sorrow; we are created in God's image, vulnerable to betrayal and denial as God is vulnerable to our betrayal and denial. God suffers because God loves: we suffer because we were created with the capacity to love as well. Escape from suffering means escape from the possibility of love also. But there are, of course, those moments of suffering which come from random chance: the family torn apart by floods/hurricanes/a stranger's act of violence. "Why?" is definitely a valid question in these circumstances, but I'd suggest that a better question is "How?": "How shall we care for them?"
5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?
With friends and family, at a table filled with good food and drink, and music should be part of it as well. There should be laughter, but there also may be tears, and these are both good.
Bonus- anything you wish to add....
I've talked about the end of my first marriage a lot lately; it does come up now and again. The reason I try to honestly speak of it is due to the monumental changes that experience brought about within me, changes for which I'm incredibly grateful today. I'm not angry at my ex-wife, and haven't been for quite some time, because she had the courage to force the crisis she had been avoiding rather than continue living in something less than the truth. As a result, I was forced to see some things in myself I'd been denying, to admit faults I was sure I didn't have and be honest about who I was. It wasn't a pretty time for either of us, and I made a lot of mistakes that multiplied the pain and anger, mistakes for which I'm rather ashamed today. We were young, human, mistake-prone and in way over our heads, and our friends & family paid a steep price in those days. We're better now, and perhaps that's the grace in all of this, that the pain created by the breaking of that marriage bond has given way to a greater joy. It's not perfect, and maybe not what God wanted when we were married in 1999, but God took the mess we made of things and brought joy out of it. For that, if for nothing else, I'm grateful.