Jesus is with us, even in our darkest hour

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A stop sign prompted me to halt my van, look both ways and proceed to make a left turn. I take this route frequently, transporting a child to school. "What a pain," I mumbled to myself that particular morning. Traffic came from all directions. "I'll never get across this busy thoroughfare." It seemed I always had a reason to rush back to complete another task.

I had dropped Anthony off to attend a summer camp at the same school he attended. Being in a hurry I came to a stop and tried to patiently wait for the traffic to wane so I could sneak into a spot on the highway. It seemed I waited forever.

I glanced, to my right, at the intersection near where I was. It was several feet away from my location. "Great," I heard myself say, "I think I can make it now." So I quickly pressed down on my gas pedal to make a getaway across the road. Then just as I breathed a sigh of relief, I spied another vehicle, inching from an unseen angle, coming toward me. Once again I was stuck -- stuck wondering when and if I would ever make it across the highway and on toward home. I sat and sat. I wondered, "Will these cars ever cease coming?"

Much to my astonishment, I was finally able to take my time getting across the street and make my turn. I couldn't believe things had so effortlessly slowed down to the point I could easily and unhurriedly drive across and journey on toward my destination. It was a situation I believed would seemingly never end, culminating without my having to exert any more energy, except within my mind.

I pondered that circumstance. Life is like that. When you think conditions, events or problems will never end or become solved, that's when you're surprised by the outcome.

I then remembered the time I was attempting to finish a college degree while my children were in middle school. As I often glanced at the amount of hours I still had to complete, I would cringe and think, "How and when will I ever finish this goal?"

As I scrupulously counted how many hours I still needed to graduate, I continually assured myself that I could do anything for a while. I lived to get through each day. I dreamed of an end, but it failed to always be in sight. Eventually, through sheer perseverance, I met my goal. The end became not only in sight, but I had finally arrived. I knew if I could endure, for that amount of time, working toward my dream while performing household and family duties and completing school assignments at the same time, I could tackle anything, I wouldn't give up.

According to a quote from Cathy Better: "Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It's in our hands." I agreed.

Even if your burden consists of the death of loved ones, family illnesses, or other unpleasant and sad events, you're strong. You can handle what you must. That too will be finally dissolved. Jesus' hands are outstretched and his heart is open and eager. Jesus promises: "I will be with you always, even until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

Regardless of what trauma or sadness occurs, you can survive. There will be light at the end of whatever tunnel you're in. Recognize what writer Charles Feidelson said: "Life is a series of little deaths out of which life always returns." The important thing is knowing "life always returns." It's been said that the darkest part of the night is right before the dawn. So no matter how dark life seems, realize that dawn always follows the darkness.

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

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