A very large hurricane is looming offshore. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are bracing for devastating winds, rain and storm surge. Hundreds of thousands have evacuated. And when SEC football games are cancelled or rescheduled you know the threat is really serious.
The US hasn’t been hit by a major hurricane in over 10 years. Many coast dwellers have forgotten the damage that a hurricane can make. It’s hard to “live ready” when life has been storm free for so long.
So much like our lives.
Perhaps tragedy and suffering hit you at an early age. Maybe you lost a parent or a sibling and experienced grief before you even knew the right words to describe the endless pain.
Or perhaps your life has been different. Some actually have two happily married, healthy parents. A home surrounded by a picket fence. Siblings who love and enjoy each other. In other words: a “charmed” life.
Whether you’ve been unduly battered with hard life events or have been spared much grief, I have some breaking news:
Suffering and grief are universal. Eventually, we will all be initiated into the brotherhood.
How, then, do we brace ourselves for the coming storms of life? Not to be fatalistic…just to be prepared for the hard times ahead?
Enjoy the gift of each new day. Not in the past, wishing for what was, or in the future, living a life of endurance. Carpe Diem.
Cherish the people in your world. You don’t know how long you’ll have them. Ask your elderly parents and grandparents questions about their lives. Learn from their struggles. Eulogize the living. Be kind. Leave nothing unsaid.
Keep the main thing the main thing. If you struggle with worry or anxiety, ask yourself: “In 100 years, what difference will it make?” So often, we burn time and energy obsessing over the unimportant.
Don’t allow bitterness to take root if you have suffered. Take the necessary steps to process your difficulties. It’s so easy to allow valid grief and pain to morph into a sense of resentment or victim mentality. Or to numb your pain in some unhealthy way. Find a reputable counselor to help you. You’re making a wise investment in yourself.
Build a strong relationship with God. Take the time, when life is calm, to get to know Him. Allow your roots to go deep in the soil of His marvelous love. Then, when the hard times strike, you’ll be much better prepared to endure the suffering.
When devastation strikes, realize that you will eventually rebuild. If you’re in the black hole of grief or suffering, you might wonder if you’ll ever feel joyful again. The answer is “yes, you will.” While you might feel like the only person who has experienced this much hardship, cling to hope. There is joy in your future, too.
Whatever storm you are facing – whether it is Hurricane Matthew or a different type of storm – remember that you are not alone. You are loved. And you will smile again.
Now, Matthew, kindly change directions and move out to sea.