Sunday, October 2, 2011
When you can't fix a loved one's pain...
Sometime in that long night I got the idea of writing down some promise verses that I thought might help my brother through the tough days that lay ahead. I didn't realize it, but this would turn into a huge project for me. As the days (and then weeks) went on, I began to hunt up appropriate verses from different translations, choosing the translation I liked best. And then, at some point, I decided to add to the project: I decided that I would find an appropriate quote or passage to couple with each verse. So that sent me on a search through hymnals, books by pastors, Christian biographies, workbooks, even taped sermons and Christian calendars, trying to find just the right quote to go with each Scripture.
I don't know if the verses and quotes, when they were finally done, copied onto cards and such, ever helped my brother or anyone else but they helped me. Tremendously. As I looked up Scripture, copied the verses down, thought about the various meanings and looked for quotes to put with them, panic gave way to peace. It was amazing!
For years I carried the verses with me but then, over time, I decided that some of the quotes I used were dorky. Some of the verses didn't seem like such good selections after all - like, why did I choose that verse? From Nahum? Really? A few of the quotes sounded idiotic if you didn't have the rest of the poem, sermon, hymn etc to give it a frame of reference. So I filed my original typed copy away and forgot about it.
Today, years later, I thought about them and finally, after hunting for a bit, found my last copy of the verses, still on whole sheets of card stock paper, laminated but never cut into individual cards. I felt a little hesitant as I started reading them, thinking it might be a little embarrassing to re-read what I, in my stress, had selected over 15 years ago. I figured that a lot of the verse selections would be non-sequitars and many of the quotes would sound lame in light of all the wonderful new Christian books that have come out since I did the cards.. Basically I expected the cards to be like spiritual dinosaurs at best and perhaps a record of my immaturity at worst.
As I read over them, there were some quotes that didn't mean much to me anymore and there were also a few verses that I would drop, substituting other passages that have taken on more meaning for me over the years. But overall, as I re-visited these verses/quotes and then cut them up into individual cards, I felt profound peace, a renewed desire to carry them with me and to meditate on them.
Many cards evoked memories of hard times for myself or my loved ones, times when we couldn't see what lay around the next corner, times when things seemed so uncertain. Divorce, cancer, job turmoil, financial straits... Those cards went with me through it all.
The first one pretty much said it all as far as my frame of mind went on that desperate night so many years ago:
Matt. 19:26 - Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible but with God, all things are possible." The quote on the back? "Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains you can't tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible. He does the things others cannot do."
The quotes themselves say that I was obviously freaked at the time, envisioning all kinds of dire situations and wanting, needing, actually begging God to do the impossible. He didn't do things exactly the way I wanted but He did everything well and He definitely carried us through. Now, those desperate concerns are a dim memory while what He did stands out like a beacon in the night, giving me hope for tomorrow.
Most important of all: if you are stressing over a situation you absolutely cannot control, I would really urge you to get out your computer and go for it. Even if in your pain, the specific cards that you work up speak only to you and to no one else, I think you will be amazed at the peace and joy the effort will bring to you. Both now and later.