I feel like for this whole blog I could simply write – Life aye! – And just leave it at that. Life is bittersweet and I know there are a lot of people experiencing the bitter side of life at the moment. The world has completely changed since 2020 and Covid-19. It’s changed individual lives and the lives of communities. Many of us are wondering just when will this suffering be over? What I have been learning over the past few years is that I can choose my response to reality, both the bitter and the sweet. But how do you do that? Especially, when life can get messy and emotional. How do you find the sweetness in such a harsh reality?
The secret is that you have to train for the trial you are yet to face!
Take this as an example. I was having a conversation with someone recently about how I responded to a car accident that happened outside of an Airbnb that I was staying at. It was about 11:30 at night, I was in bed and in that stage of falling asleep when you have those weird ‘I’m falling’ dreams and wake up in a panic. Anyway, there was a really, REALLY loud bang. It woke me straight up and for a second I was like, was that real or was I dreaming. If that was real, it sounded really bad, like a car into a house bad! I quickly jumped up, got dressed, put my runners on (not my thongs), grabbed my head torch and the car keys so that as I passed the car I could grab the first aid kit which had gloves in it. I did this all in a timely fashion. I stuck my head outside the gate to have a quick look at what was going on. I was by myself, in a neighborhood I didn’t know, and I knew people can be very emotional and erratic in response to these types of situations.
Anyway, I calmly started walking over towards the car wrapped around a power pole. Almost every house had come outside to see what had happened. There were a few people already assisting. As I walked over someone was asking, “is he breathing?” A response I heard was, “I don’t know.” My mind was like, “Oh! Please no!” Then I saw him move and thought, “Thank You God”. I happened to be near the person who had called triple zero. I could hear the angst in his voice. There was a lady attending to the driver, as I asked the question, “Was there anyone else in the car?”; I also suggested that we turn off the car. I held my torch for the lady and observed the driver she was attending to. I couldn’t do anything more than what she was already doing for him, i.e. holding his head up and still.
There were a few moments which told me that none of these people had experienced this before. When I offered the lady some gloves, she declined and then proceeded to get blood on her hands. One of the guys initially standing next to the car when I suggested we turn it off was a bit apprehensive to do so. I had to reiterated to him that it’s safer to do so. Thankfully it was just a few more minutes before the first ambulance crew arrived on the scene.
Anyway, upon sharing this story, the person listening responded with, “If that was me, I would have frozen! I wouldn’t have had a clue of what to do?” But that’s just it, I would not expect them to; why would they know what to do? In normal everyday life, how often are you confronted with a traumatic situation? How often would you be first on scene at a car accident? Unless you’ve been extremely unfortunate to witness or be in one, it is probably never. On the other hand, this is what I’ve trained to do.
I train for these types of situations. I have twelve years’ experience as a first responder; I’m also an emergency nurse. I already have the knowledge and the mindset to assess the whole situation; in order to make the right decisions swiftly. In that situation I was able to control my emotions from influencing my response, whereas the other people were mostly running on their emotions. This is where I throw back to the question of, how do we have the power to influence our response to reality?
How often do we come up against a struggle or challenge in life? If you’re studying, it might be exams or if you play sports it might be a competitive game. How much easier is it if you study or train? – A lot! It can be the same when you deal with the challenges of sickness, loss, and grief. We occasionally encounter these in life but how we look at these circumstances can influence how we see reality for our lifetime.
None of us would wish any of this on anyone. One reason people give as to why they don’t believe in God is because of all the suffering in the world. If there is a God, then why does God let bad things happen to good people? (I talk about this in my very first blog post). The burden of such great loss is heavy and can be crippling. You must train for the trial you are yet to face!
Wouldn’t it be nice that as a believer of God it meant that life was easy and everything would be smooth sailing? Satan believes in God, in fact he doesn’t just believe in God, he knows there is a God! The Bible says that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus comes that we may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
Understanding that Bible verse can greatly impact your response to reality. Understanding where the good things and the bad things in life come from. Understanding that God wants you to have a full, prosperous and joyful life. Satan on the other hand wants to harness your weaknesses, put thoughts in your mind and feed off your negativity.
If you are a follower of Jesus, then Satan has no power over you. BUT Satan wants to take you to hell and if he can’t do that, he will try and stop you from taking anyone to heaven.
Life can get really crappy! Believe me, I know this from some of the circumstances I’ve lived through. I know some people who have or are living through some pretty crappy circumstances and I cannot begin to imagine their heartache. But let me share with you another truth.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5.
This hope that comes out of our suffering gives us the power to stand and scream about who Jesus Christ is and what he has done for you, me and everyone else. Our suffering, no matter how big or small it may seem to you, is your microphone to tell the world of the hope you have. You must train for the struggles and challenges of life. The bible doesn’t say “if” you face trials, it says “when” you face trials (James 1:2-4). You have to know the truth of Jesus and let that influence your response to reality not your circumstances. Feelings are important and they need to be acknowledged. But you need the knowledge of the truth of Jesus so that when life is rough you can stand firm in what you believe.
“Hope doesn’t mean we ignore reality. No, hope means we acknowledge reality in the same breath that we acknowledge God’s sovereignty. Our hope must be tied to the unchanging promise of God.” – Lysa Terkeurst
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” – Hebrews 6:19
If you want this hope, you can have it, it is available to you. The bible says that, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” – Romans 10:9.
For me it hasn’t just been a once off decision or thought to choose to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and believe that Jesus died and rose again; and realign my thinking with the truth of God. It is a daily choice, it is an hourly choice. Just like first responders are constantly training to maintain their skills, I have to constantly train in what I know is true. So that just like a first responder my life changing decisions are not based on emotions but facts.
I understand that life is bittersweet. As a follower of Jesus the sweet bit is that everything will be ok. The bitter part is that the sweet isn’t automatic. God gave us free will and we have to choose what we want to believe and where we put our hope.
If you want to know more about this hope, send me a message. I’m happy to answer any questions and help you connect with someone in your community who can help. I have also attached some short YouTube videos you may find helpful.