By Lisa Nuss
Last week we talked about the question “Why Me?” and while we may never have a complete answer to that question, a natural follow-up question is “What Now?” Something has happened to you or to someone you love, for whatever reason, if there even is a reason, so what do you do with that now?
There are as many different responses to bad things that happen as there are people that they happen to. Some people are fixers – they want to jump right in and figure out what they can do to make it better. Some people are avoiders – they want to bury their head in the sand like an ostrich and hope that when they pick their head back up the problem will have solved itself or have magically changed for the better. Some people try to find someone to blame and get angry. I’m sure there are lots of people that vacillate between these different responses. I know I, myself, have responded in all of these ways at one time or another. I also know that when I start to dwell on something hard that I’m facing or something bad that has happened, I can easily get sucked into a downward spiral that doesn’t do me any good.
And while all of these responses may be natural human reactions, as Christians we have an insight into something bigger than ourselves and bigger than our circumstances: this world is not all there is! We have the hope and promise that there will come a day when all of our troubles will melt away and we’ll spend eternity in heaven. In the meantime, while we’re still here on Earth, muddling our way through all of the pitfalls and problems that come with this place, we have the promise that Jesus is always with us and will never leave us. (Matthew 28:20) One thing I tell myself a lot when I start getting pulled under by my over-analytical ruminating is, “God, I know you are right here with me and will help me figure it out.” This is based on two Bible verses: Romans 8:39, which says nothing can separate us from God’s love, and 2 Timothy 1:7, which says that God has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. Using scripture as a basis for your thoughts is a great way to respond when bad things happen to you.
So, what about when something bad happens, not to you, but to someone you know and love? That can be just as hard, or even harder, than if it happened to you. Again, there are many different ways a person can react. I know for me, it’s difficult sometimes! I really want to be there for my friend or family member, but sometimes feel like if I don’t know what to say or do, I should just not say or do anything to hopefully avoid making it worse. I pray for wisdom, take my cues from the person, and let that dictate my response. I’m not always great at it, but I try.
I know when I was a college student walking through the season of my parents’ divorce, I found myself needing my friends to respond in different ways at different times, and I had a few really good friends who were wonderful. Sometimes I really wanted to talk about it and they would just listen to me rehash the situation for the tenth time without trying to offer me any sort of reason or solution. Sometimes I didn’t want to have to answer one more question or even think about it for one more minute, and my friends would go with me to a movie or take me out for lunch and we’d talk about anything but that. Above all, I know they prayed for me and my family, which meant the world to me!
Everything I’ve talked about so far is on a more personal scale, but a lot of us also ask “what now?” when we hear about something on a more national or global scale like the most recent school shooting or natural disaster. Whether we know someone personally affected by these things or not, it breaks our hearts and we don’t know what to do about it. Saying you should pray for those involved may sound clichéd, but it really is an important way to respond. James 5:16 says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look for a tangible or physical way to respond if you feel lead to do so, but prayer certainly should not be overlooked.
If you remember nothing else from this blog post or this week’s message, I hope you remember this bottom line – “Nothing can pull you from the God that loves you!”
Name one moment of history in your lifetime that you’ll never forget. What happened? Where were you? What were you feeling in that moment?
When tragedy hits us personally, human tendency is to do one of three things: cover it up, tune it out, or lash out. How do you tend to react when you find yourself in crisis?
You heard Pastor Scott say that when our friends or someone we love is in crisis, we tend to either 1. Act normal and try to pretend everything is ok when it’s not, 2. Talk, maybe too much in an effort to give answers we don’t have, or 3. Go silent out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Which of these do you tend to do?
Question 3: Read what happened to Job in Job 1:13-22 and then read how his friends responded in Job 2:11-13.
What can we learn about how to respond to a friend in crisis from their example here?
Question 4: Read Romans 8:35, 37-39
What can we learn from this about how God responds to us when we’re in crisis? What do you think about that?
You heard Pastor Scott say that when we’re going through times of darkness we need something to hold on to- an anchor, something solid, a phrase or an idea that can provide a dose of hope when you’re feeling hopeless. Something that brings peace when you’re afraid and security when you’re anxious. What phrase or idea has been your anchor, or if you don’t have one, what’s a phrase or idea that could be your anchor?
What’s one small thing you can do today to hold on to your anchor? (Ex: memorize it, put it on your lock screen, tape it to a mirror)
Ask God to help you remember that nothing can separate you from him and his love. Ask him to help you find an anchor in his word that you can cling to in times of distress, and ask him to help you trust him in the good times and bad.