A couple of years ago comedian Conan O’Brien gave students at Dartmouth College the following warning:
“Nietzsche famously said, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ … What he failed to stress is that it almost kills you.”
Catherine Woodiwiss at Sojourners Magazine wrote, “Odd things show up after a serious loss and creep into every corner of life: insatiable anxiety in places that used to bring you joy, detachment or frustration towards your closest companions, a deep distrust of love or presence or vulnerability.
There will be days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.”
I think Woodiwiss mostly is right. That’s why repeatedly I view life in God’s kingdom as left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot … living each day, each moment as it comes, striving to be present, realizing that we can be reasonably happy in this life, and knowing that we will be eternally happy with the Father-Son-and-Holy Spirit in the next life.
The fact of the matter is “Whatever doesn’t kill you,” well, “doesn’t kill you.”
Living through suffering and despair and loneliness and trauma and sadness can teach you resilience. As Woodiwiss says, “It may help sustain you and others in times of crisis down the road. It may prompt humility. It may make for deeper seasons of joy. It may even make you stronger.
It also may not.”
In the end, the hope of life after suffering and pain and disappointment and heartache — and every single person faces it at some point — simply is that you have life after suffering and pain and disappointment and heartache.
The Apostle said it like this:
“…We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3b-5
The days of our lives, in their sadness and sorrows and in their varied richness and excitement, do go on. And, friends, so do we. So hang in there, and stay present for what God wants to do today..