Strength In God

I can't remember now how long after my separation this conversation occurred, but it was within the first year.  A dear friend and I were talking one evening about all that was happening with me, when he stated he had no idea how I was doing it.  I asked him what he meant and he said, "I would have been an alcoholic or a drug addict or I would have committed suicide by now.  I don't know how you're going through all of this the way you are."  At the time, I didn't know either and I did not have a good answer for him then.

This past Saturday, another dear friend of mine and I were talking about what has been going on in our lives since the last time we spoke.  We are both facing what seem to be insurmountable obstacles and a quantity and type of suffering that only seems to worsen.  We have issues with our children, employment, betrayals, lies, isolation, struggles with the enormous weight of our own weaknesses and sins.  When each of us had given only a synopsis of what we were in the midst, we both went silent, overwhelmed by the darkness that was surrounding us.  Sometimes, you don't know what's going on until you take a minute to look at it.

After a few seconds of silence, we began talking about how much our faith was sustaining us and how much strength we were finding in Christ.  Honestly, at times, this part of our conversation sounded like two young boys in a tent scared by a sound in the woods reassuring themselves that their fathers are in the next tent.  Despite what the boys say to each other, they're not sure, if they can get to the other tent before the wild animal will get them.  Despite being overwhelmed and, yes, terrified by everything assailing us now, we both knew that the only way we were getting through any of it was because God is holding us close to Him.  Very close.  My friend is a good man and an excellent father.  He is growing closer to God every day.  He will get through this and will be the better for it.  I'm glad he's next to me, while I'm going through it.

I can't remember now what American Indian tribe did this, but upon a boy reaching the age of a man, he was taken deep into the woods, blindfolded and placed on a log or a stump for the night and left with nothing, but some water.  The young man would sit, blindfolded, listening to all of the sounds of the dark night knowing that if anything attacked him, he would have no chance.  The longer he sat there, the more his fears attacked him and the harder he would have to fight to control himself and remain where he was seated.  As a man, he could not let fear master him.  Finally, the morning sun would rise and the young man would remove his blindfold to find that his father had been sitting next to him the entire time protecting him.

That anecdote always makes me cry.  I would hope that my friend and I are and will always be fathers of this sort, but we do know that God is this sort of a Father to us and to our children.  It is only in our knowledge and love of God that we have the strength to persevere.  And persevere we will.

Praise be to God!

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