I find it difficult to write anything of late. One hardship after another has sapped much of my desire and most days I question what my purpose is in attempting to put pen to paper. I believe every individual is born with an acute desire to make a mark in his or her world, to be able to look back over their lives and say, “I am leaving a better place than I found.” I believe we were specifically designed that way.
However, when faced with seemingly greater and insurmountable challenges, when bombarded with messages of helplessness and hopelessness, and when at last one comes to a place where one feels completely cut off from the promises we’re raised to believe, it becomes easier to understand why for some it becomes impossible to resist the temptation to say, “I give up. The world is better without me.”
My family recently put to rest one of our own who decided just that. I still don’t understand every thought that led to that final decision, but I do know that Ryan’s* wasn’t always a life without hope.
Ryan was bright. He was funny. And he loved deeply. He gave of himself for his country and for his family, but he came home from those battles wounded more than just physically. Harder still, he returned and found no real place for him. I know he isn’t alone in those feelings.
Who of any of us can truly comprehend the nightmares and demons that plague every waking and sleeping moment of a soldier who has seen combat, or who must now live with chronic pain? What father doesn’t want to provide for his young children or wouldn’t condemn himself when it seemed more and more apparent to him that he couldn’t do just that? Who of us wouldn’t be willing to try anything to escape that existence, even if only for a moment?
Of all the battles in all the wars in all the world, I can’t think of one more grueling, more bloody, and more devastating than the war that takes place in our own hearts and minds.
It’s a war we all face regardless of our vocations and it is a war none of us can say we’ve come away from unscathed. We all carry specific wounds into our daily lives — abuse, betrayal, conflict, desperation, persecution, self-loathing…the list is endless. It saps our energy and clouds our perception.
But it doesn’t have to remain that way. For those who have placed their lives in Christ we have this hope in the midst of our darkest moments that there is no longer any condemnation because through Christ the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:1). Sometimes that hope seems impossibly faint, but it remains just the same.
I believe this promise remains true regardless of any choices we make after we come to the cross. It is to that belief that I am clinging harder than ever right now. Some may call it sentimental; some may declare it absolute foolishness. I call it faith and trust that my God, who has experienced every spectrum of life’s highs and lows himself, will honor His word when He declares He will never abandon his own.
*Name changed out of courtesy to the family