A friend of mine posted this video on her Facebook page the other day. If you've never heard this song, Held, by Natalie Grant, be sure to listen to it. We've all faced moments in our lives where the world seems to be falling down around us. We have no idea how we're going to make it through the next moment, much less the next day, week or year. The lyrics of this song are a beautiful reminder that though God never promised us an easy life with no heartbreak, He did promise to be there when the world falls apart.
My favorite part of this song are the words:
Who told us we'd be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We're asking why this happens to us who have died to live?
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive.
This is what it is to be loved
And to know that the promise was when everything fell we'd be held.
It's so tempting to think that because we have chosen to follow Jesus, that the logical extension of that is that God would make everything right in our world. But the truth is that not only does this imperfect world hold sickness, death, dissension and hurt, but the Bible even tells us that we will suffer for knowing Jesus. Philippians 1:29 tells us "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him."
No matter what you've been through or what you will go through, God's hands are there to hold you. Whether it's the loss of a child, the dissolution of a marriage, the loss of a "normal" life because of a sick or disabled child or any other event that caused the "sacred" to be torn from your life, God is there. He's there to hold you up, to surround you with His love and strength. He's there to give you the strength to put one foot in front of the other when all you want to do is sink to the ground and never get up again. He's there when the pain is so great you feel like you will never live a normal day again. And He's there when you begin to notice again that the sun does still shine, and while your heart has been changed forever, your smile isn't lost forever. He's there when the pain begins to fade, and you step forward into a life that's different than the one you thought you were going to have. He's there every step of the way, holding you up and leading you on, making you stronger and using your pain to touch someone else's life somewhere down the road.
Deuteronomy 31:6 says "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." The Israelites were marching into battle in this situation, but the promise applies to us, as well. God has promised to never leave or forsake us. Only because of that promise can we be strong and courageous, even in situations that leave us weak and gasping for breath. God's strength, not ours, carries us through.
And as much as we hate it and would like to protect our kids from it, there are going to be times in their lives when it feels as if their lives are falling apart. There will be times when something "sacred" is torn from their lives, and they'll feel like the world is ending. It may be the illness or death of a friend, a sick teacher, parents getting divorced or the death of a grandparent. We need to make sure that our kids know God is there in the good times and the bad times. Before a crisis hits, we need to teach our children that God is always there, no matter where we go or how far away He may feel. He is always at our side.
- Play hide and seek with your kids. When you finish, talk about who had the best hiding place and how hard it was to find them. Ask your kids if there's any place that they can go that God won't be with them. Ask them how they know that God is with them. Talk with them about the ways that God helps us through tough situations (sometimes He provides friends to rely on, sometimes He just give us a peace in our hearts). Remind your kids that God is always with them, even when you can't be.
- Place a heavy brick or concrete block in front of your child (be sure it's something he can't lift on his own). Ask him to lift it and carry it a certain distance. When he can't, offer to help him carry it. As the two of you carry the block, talk about how the block represents something difficult in life. Talk about how your child couldn't carry the burden of the block himself; he needed help. Remind your child that God wants us to rely on His strength to carry us through difficult times, just like he relied on your strength to help him carry the block.
- If your child is going through something difficult, pray for her. Try to think of a time when she could see God's hand in her life and remind her of how God's strength and love saw her through that difficult time. Sometimes remembering what God has done for us in the past can help us see His hand in the midst of an impossible situation.
It's hard to watch and know how to help our kids when they are confronted with tragedy in their lives. The best thing we can do is be a picture of Jesus for them. We can wrap them up in our loving arms and provide the physical holding while God provides the strength. But the best thing we can do for them is to pray and place them in God's loving hands -- letting them experience "what it is to be held."