It seems to be a phrase I have been speaking a lot lately. Being a person of faith does not make us immune to the worst life has to offer. While some proclaim faith provides a protective barrier to the pain of this world, the biblical record says differently. Job—reputably one of the most faithful humans to walk the face of the earth—suffered immeasurable loss. Jesus—THE most righteous human to walk the face of the earth—was beaten, mocked and crucified. One of the most popular of Jesus’ parables tells the story of two homes—one built on rock and the other on sand. The house built on rock stands against fierce storms, and the one built on sand falls in the face of fierce storms. Both homes, however, are assaulted by storms! I will say it one more time: Being a person of faith does not make us immune to the worst life has to offer. Facing a difficult crisis does not mean God is out to get us. A deadly diagnosis does not mean God is punishing us. Loss of life or sustenance or health does not mean we’ve lost favor with God. All of these things simply mean we are human. Where is God? Over the years, I’ve come to trust God is walking beside us.
On June 30 of this year, I attended my first session of heart rehab. I was four weeks past open-heart surgery. I can still remember looking around the room and thinking, “What am I doing here? How did this happen to me? Am I ever going to be strong again?” As I numbly stood with my quiet questions at the edge of the room, Lee Jones approached, interrupted my pondering, and introduced herself. (Lee is the Clinical Coordinator for the HeartLife Program at Prisma Hospital.) She asked me several questions, weighed me, handed me a heart monitor, showed me how to use the monitor, assured me I was going to be okay, and put me on a treadmill. In the sessions that followed, Lee encouragingly monitored my often slow but incremental progress. I got to know Marie and Joe and other rehab patients. I had conversations with graduates of the program who encouraged me. Rehab reminded me, not only is God walking beside us, so are a host of other humans. We can choose to struggle alone, or we can choose to walk hard paths with competent guides and fellow strugglers.
This Wednesday night, I will be interviewing Lee Jones during our “Outside These Walls” MidWeek Fellowship series. I will be questioning her about the joys and challenges of her work. I have waived all confidentiality rights and am going to allow you to ask questions from the audience regarding my health and progress. It should be a fun and informative night. Most of all, I hope it’s a night that reminds us we do not have to be alone in the greatest struggles of our lives. We have God and each other.