Hanging by a thread

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A mother has two adult daughters. Both are ill, but they are surviving and their health is seemingly improving. You might guess, and even offer the opinion, that their lives are hanging by a thread. But how can someone assume that sick people are more in danger of losing their lives prematurely than those who appear to be normal? Isn't every life hanging by a thread? After hearing about a number of such scenarios and visiting with their families, I began to dissect and attempt to put a theory together.

The family believes in God's power and mercy, so they keep a stiff upper lip and feel that God will heal their relatives. Thus far, only miracles could have brought the girls to the much improved state they are enjoying.

Another situation I contemplated came after I had spoken with a person who had recently lost a son. He had been in poor health for a number of years. His life had been threatened numerous times throughout his lifetime, seemingly hanging only by a thread. Another young friend was killed in a car accident. That was a shock to everyone. He was young, vibrant and healthy. Why, everyone asked? One whom you ordinarily believed had a long stretch before him was gone in a breath, a quick moment's time.

On the other hand, I recently read about a person who died at the age of 114. He had lived through various ailments and illnesses, but he still survived. Couldn't you say also that while he lived his life, too, hung by a thread?

I meditated on other people who had undergone hardship and danger but who had come through them better than before. Then I thought about those who had few bouts with bad health and hazards and I wondered if their lives, too, hung by a thread. I concluded that, yes indeed, everyone's life hangs by a thread.

Why? Because God holds the scissors that snips the thread -- or weaves it.

One who is experiencing unfavorable health or other disabilities need not feel that he has less time than someone who is seems to be always fit and energetic.

I drew comfort from my conclusion because I realized that when God holds the safety net it really doesn't matter when you fall because you have nothing to fear. You know that strong hands will catch you. I also recognized that although it would seem that those who are frequently ill would pass before others who appear to be well; that isn't the case. Scripture informs us that our days are numbered. The book of Job tells people that God has already decided how long we will live. Job also states that "God knows how many months we will live and we're not given a minute longer." I received solace from those passages even though I still felt compassion and sympathy for the people whose lives seemed to be in jeopardy. But In reality everyone's life hangs precariously.

Since God decides when we shall meet him, we need not be saddened because we are all offered the Holy One's strength and help. "God is our refuge and our strength always ready to help in times of trouble" (Psalms 46:10) Those who are physically crippled in any fashion can be consoled if they can realize that God is always in control and what seems to be the most likely outcome isn't always what happens.

There is a solution to our confusion and fear. Psalm 46:10 says it well when it tells people to simply "Be still and know that I am God."

If you're sick, weary or feeling that everything is going wrong, do not allow your circumstances to mar your happiness. God truly holds every thread.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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