There are times when we’re cruising down the road of life thinking everything is going just great. We seem to know who we are, where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there. And, just when our destination seems to be coming into sight – BAM! Everything seems to go wrong and it feels like the wheels just fell off our car right in the middle of our journey.
In a split second, everything that could go wrong does go wrong.
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you! – Job 1:18-19
Steve is a friend of mine. He’s married with two children, lives in a nice house in a nice neighborhood of a nice town. He has been working hard on his career, building a solid client base, and starting to see some positive results from his years of investing blood, sweat, and tears into his business.
And then it happened.
In the matter of about a month, Steve’s wife told him that she didn’t love him anymore and wanted a divorce and his business partners told him that they wanted to rearrange their business deal and Steve was gong to get less of the business, effectively cutting his salary by more than 75%.
After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” – Nehemiah 4:14
Steve was a pretty proud guy – always keeping a stiff upper lip and never really letting on to what was happening in his world. But I had an idea something was up. He just wasn’t himself. I would do the good friend thing when we got together and just try to listen when he wanted to talk. I would ask a few gentle questions to see if he felt like opening up. He did a little more every time we got together – but he was still guarded.
That was until the day I got a text message from him: “I am at my darkest place. Please pray for me.”
The wheels fell off and Steve was crashing.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5
We got together that morning and had breakfast. He told me he felt like he was drowning and, instead of someone throwing him a life preserver, they kept dunking his head under the water every time he tried to come up for a breath.
Many of us have been where Steve is. It might not be a marriage falling apart or a business deal going bad, but in some part of our life we have felt like we were in “our darkest place”. And, I hate to be the one to tell you, but if you haven’t felt like this, it’s likely that someday you will.
While we were at breakfast talking, Steve got a text message. Not knowing what it said, I watched as his eyes got glassy while he read it. He put his phone down, pushed his eggs aside, and buried his head in his hands.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18
“My partners want to end our business relationship. There goes the rest of my salary and my bonus that I was hoping to live on for the rest of the year.”
What do you say to this? I could feel the pain radiating from his soul.
When you have fallen to the depths that Steve had at that moment, there’s not a lot you can say to someone to make them feel better. All you can do is listen and throw them a life preserver for them to hang onto so they don’t feel like they are going down for the last time.
That life preserver is God – our Heavenly Father.
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” – Psalm 18:16-19
Sometimes God needs us for Him to work through to help someone make it out of their darkest place.
We talked for a couple of hours.
Steve told me that he had no fight left in him and that he was ready to just give it all over to God. I could tell at that moment that he was ready to surrender to the forces that were trying to keep him down. I was worried that, through his thinking he would give it over to God, he was considering giving up.
When you give it over to God, you are asking God to guide your steps as you continue to fight forward.
“Look at how many times God has opened doors for you and helped you in the past as you were building yourself up before,” I told Steve.. “He’s going to do the same now. You just have to keep working with Him and give Him a chance.”
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34
“Steve, before you make any big decisions,” I said. “Let’s just try to get through the next hour. Let’s pray and ask God for some guidance and then just sit tight and let some of the dust settle on what’s going on around you. Let’s get through today first and not worry about tomorrow right now. Try to tackle one thing at a time. If you try to take on everything at once, you’re going to feel overwhelmed and defeated.”
A few weeks have passed and Steve and I have talked a lot about his situation. He’s taking it day by day and, although he’s not doing great, he’s doing better.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: …a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend… – Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3, 6-7
Just as the seasons turn from winter to spring and life follows death, our days are full of seasons as well: seasons of prosperity and joy and seasons of loss and sadness. Be assured though that just as there is light after every night and the sun comes out after every storm, there is a rebirth after every death.
Steve is entering a new season in his life.
He is keeping his faith in God and trusting that God will see him through this difficult time. He also knows that somehow, in a way that we will never understand, God does and will work all things together for His good and Steve is keeping his eyes open to find the new path God wants him to walk.
There is a lot of Steve in each of us. We have all gone through these dark times when we were just looking for someone to throw a life preserver our way. In fact, you might be going through one of those times now.
The good news is there is a rebirth awaiting you.
Think of the darkness that surrounded the hours after Jesus’ death. Yet in three short days, out of a tomb, hope arose. A new life emerged. A rebirth available to each one of us became available through the risen Christ.
Steve’s troubles are not going to be over in three days and probably not even in three months. Steve may have a lot of rebuilding to do in his life. But, as he begins to rebuild he needs to realize he’s got a great carpenter working next to him helping him rebuild – a carpenter who is there to help each of us in our time of rebuilding – a carpenter named Jesus.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30