the Hope of Survivors

Which One Will You Be?—Samantha Nelson

(From the October 2007 edition of HopeSpeak)

It was the day after the storm. A terrible tornado had ripped through the town and not a house was left standing. Everywhere was widespread destruction and loss, of material possessions as well as lives. Two women, neighbors in the small town, stood looking at the remnants of their homes. The shattered fragments of their lives were left in heaps of rubbish on the ground.

“What will I do?” was the question they both asked. “How will I pick up the pieces of my life?” One woman, deeply distraught over the losses she had suffered, continued to stand there looking at the rubbish and bemoaning her sense of hopelessness and grief. Hour after hour, she stood there crying. She didn’t move at all. Her focus was completely on the losses sustained.

The other woman, deeply grieving over the loss of everything she had ever desired and worked so hard to obtain, cried for the loss, but began to slowly pick up the pieces and move forward. She couldn’t fix all that had been broken. Some things were irreplaceable. Some things she would never have again. Through her tears and pain, she made her way through the mounds of debris, trying to salvage what could be redeemed and tossing what could not. Her cries went up to the Lord, “from whence cometh her help.” (Psalm 121:1) She trusted that, though all may be lost—or appear to be so at this time—He still had a perfect plan.

Recognizing she could not change the destruction that took place, as it was beyond her control, she set her sight on the future and the new things to come. She was comforted by one thought that continually ran through her mind, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11—NIV) Though she could not see how the Lord would put her life back together again; she did not know how she would live or pay her bills; she knew in whom she believed (2 Timothy 1:12) and she trusted His provision for her.

The first woman, sadly, never turned her eyes from her loss and, therefore, never grew beyond, never overcame, never allowed peace, hope or joy to fill her again. Like Lot’s wife, she could not keep from looking back. And, Like Lot’s wife, looking back destroyed her. She missed the open doors, opportunities, gifts and blessings that were right before her because she would not take her eyes off the past and the pain it brought.

Has there been a storm in your life, or are you going through one right now? Have you suffered devastation, or are you devastated at this moment? Have you been grieving or is your loss recent? Where is your focus? Are you looking back, or are you looking up to Jesus and toward the future He has planned for you?

As the second woman looked forward, she was able to see the new opportunities and blessings awaiting her. She was able to see God bringing good out of evil (Genesis 50:20), turning her tragedy and sorrow into triumph. She received new life, peace and joy. As she kept her eyes on the Lord, she was able to comfort those around her with the comfort she received from God herself.
(2 Corinthians 1:4)

Both of these women suffered devastation. Both cried and grieved. Help, hope and new life were available to each of them, yet only one was able to lift up her eyes and see Jesus (Matthew 17:8). Only one was able to say, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Which one will you be?

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18