Coping with adversity – two approaches
READ: Proverbs 16: 20-22
“don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with
what you have. Since God assured us, ‘I’ll never let you down, never
walk off and leave you.’ ” Hebrews 13:5 (Msg.)
The above picture accompanied an article describing the degree of joy that the woman felt in once again having shelter from the elements. She and her family rebuilt the one room dwelling after Hurricane Emily destroyed their original structure. The humble nature of her dwelling is quite evident; it has neither electricity nor running water and consists mainly of a sleeping area and yet she expressed joy in her newly rebuilt abode.
Another article in the same issue of the newspaper related the incidents of several persons who committed suicide as the result of losing “everything” in Hurricane Katrina.
Reflecting on these two situations, I was puzzled as to why the individuals in New Orleans with considerable governmental and charitable assistance available chose to “give up”, whereas, the Mexican lady with almost no governmental help available expressed hope rather than despair over her situation.
It would probably be spiritually uplifting to claim that the Mexican family’s religious faith carried them through the disaster whereas faith of the suicide victims of Hurricane Katrina was lacking. However, this assumption would be false. Senora Aldana made no mention of strong religious beliefs. Rather, she seems to accept belief that her present state is only temporary and the future might be better. Whereas, those who committed suicide probably believed that their state was hopeless and were unable to see a future at all!
What do these different reactions in regard to “losing everything” have to say to us as believers? Does our everything consist only of our material possessions? What do we have left when everything is gone? Is the joy Senora Aldana claims a false emotion or did she consider her material possessions replaceable objects which although, maybe important, were not the total essence of her being?
Recently, an associate gave me a business card with the inscription, “ Lord, help me to remember that nothing will happen to me today that You and I can’t handle.” These words reminded me of the words in the 145th Psalm:
“The Lord is fair in everything He does and full of kindness.
He is close to all who call upon Him sincerely. He fulfills
the desires of those who reverence and trust Him; He hears
their cries for help and rescues them.” Psalm 145:17-19 (Liv.)
The pace of modern life may cause to forget these words. However, to savor the words of this psalmist is to know that joy comes from within and is not dependent of our external circumstances or possessions. To recall “He hears their cries and rescues them” is to learn that joy is not about what we have managed to accumulate but about how we live in relation with God and trust in His grace. Amen.