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When Surviving Is Thriving

Sometimes surviving is all we can do. There are seasons so painful, terrain so tumultuous, challenges so fraught with difficulty, that just making it through the day is a victory.

I’ve been in this place more times than I’d like.

Maybe you have too.

Or maybe you’re in a really good place.

And while I believe we can live an overcoming life, rise above our struggles, and become stronger and better than we were before, what do we do when we feel we can barely even get out of bed to face the day, let alone strive for growth and thriving amidst the pain?

Wherever you are - whether the clouds of darkness surround you, or you’re in the clear, “living your best life,” as the phrase goes - I have two words to share with you:

Reach out.

In the first few months after my wife Aletha died, I had a text thread labelled “911” with a group of friends from my Cornerstone church community. They had all agreed to be my “emergency helpers” if ever the throes of grief became too much and I needed someone to come to my aid - particularly with looking after my newborn son, Hosea. I remember one Friday sitting in my counselor’s office, Hosea next to me on the couch. I was clearly distressed, barely hanging on. My counselor said, “Why don’t you text someone to help with Hosea today.”

“No, no,” I replied. “Someone is scheduled to take him next weekend. I can survive another week.”

“I don’t think you can,” he gently disagreed. “I want you to text someone now.”

I did. And by the end of my appointment, a string of texts and calls had flooded my phone and a plan was made to help me. I dropped off Hosea at someone’s house within the next hour, drove back home, collapsed onto the floor and wept for the rest of the day. I did not see my son again for three days. For that weekend, I was only able to survive. It took everything in me to just hold on. And once that was over, I could begin to re-engage, to start my journey towards healing and growth again. 

So, to those who are struggling, reach out for help. No matter how big or small your trouble, you were not meant to carry it alone.

You are not weak if you ask for help. Sometimes we pride ourselves on being self-made and independent and not needing help. Or we think our problems are so small compared to someone else’s and aren’t worth asking for help. 

Sometimes we don’t ask for help because we don’t want to be a burden. You are not a burden. There are people who want to help, who find joy in being a support to you. I discovered that by letting people in, it actually blessed them to be a part of my pain.

I’d be remiss not to point out that we can also always, always turn to God. If you don’t yet have a “911” text thread of your own, His line is open 24-7. If I’m honest, sometimes God isn’t the first place I turn to help me hold on, to help me make it through the day. Sometimes I think I have to white knuckle it for a while before He’ll offer His hand. Sometimes I think my issues are not big enough for Him to care about. And sometimes I think my issues are too big for Him to even do anything about, that the decades-old prayer I’ve been lifting up will remain unanswered for another decade.

I’m reminded of the story in Matthew 9:20-22 of the woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had tried everything and when she heard of Jesus and His path crossed hers, she said to herself, “If I just reach out and touch the hem of His robe, I will be healed.” 

Maybe you’ve never reached out to God for help before. Or maybe you have and were disappointed. Maybe it’s been twelve years of silence. Reach out. This could be the one.

Nahum 1:7-8
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
a refuge on the day of distress,
Taking care of those who look to Him for protection,
when the flood rages…

Hosea 6:3
As surely as the sun rises, He will appear...

To those who are on the other side of struggling, reach out to help. 

In her book I’m Grieving As Fast I Can, Linda Feinberg says “If you see a man is drowning, do you ask him to call you sometime if he needs help? You just jump in!”

I think too often we are afraid to help someone in need because we don’t know what to say or what to do, but by saying “let me know if you need help,” we actually put the burden on them, instead of actually releasing them from some of their troubles. 

Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. Just do something. Anything. Drop off a meal at their home, even if they don’t eat it. Send flowers or a card. Buy them groceries. Offer a specific time to be a listening ear or to go for a walk, even if they change their mind at the last minute or don’t show. Send a prayer via text every day. Remember, it’s never about you - it’s alway about trying to meet them where they’re at and offering a small gift of healing, even if that offering is rejected.

Galatians 6:2
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

There are going to be seasons when all you can do is make it through the day. Find your people. And then ask them for help. Let them be a tangible expression of Christ’s love in your life by entering into the blessing of shouldering your suffering. 

There will also be seasons when things are going well for you. Become someone’s person. Offer your help in specific, tangible ways. Be the hands of the loving Father.

If you haven’t found your people yet, or if you want to be a person that offers help, there’s a whole bunch of us waiting at Cornerstone. Just go to our CARE page and we’ll connect with you. 

Reach out. What have you got to lose?