Right before the accident, the girls and I began a really annoying, but funny to us, habit of answering every question with a question. It really only worked between the three of us, because other people would quickly find no humor in what we considered hilarious. One of those things you do as a family, that only works with your family, because they are your family.
We all have them. When I was young it was family Bible reading time. My sister Lisa is slow, but every time we sat down to read our Bibles (usually in Ezekiel, my dad’s favorite book), Lisa would finish her reading in less than 3 minutes. She would close her Bible, zip it up, and then begin to watch each of our faces until one of us (usually me) got annoyed. I remember, on more than one occasion, getting mad at her because there was no way she read her chapter faster than the rest of us, and “seriously Mom, why is she staring at me again!”
Be it family meetings that are supposed to be serious, but end in laughter, family game nights, that you all find absurdly entertaining, but outsiders seem confused, or the nighttime Conga line to your bedroom (another family tradition in the Pochodaj home). We, our families, our personal, small units of tied together yarn, balled up in the same home, share secrets, joys, failures, fun and jokes that other people maybe don’t understand or maybe just don’t care about. It’s what makes each of our families distinctive.
So answering a question with a question goes something like this…
“How was your day today?”
“How do you think my day was?”
“Can’t imagine it was better than my day. Want to hear about it?
“If I wanted to hear about your day, don’t you think I would have asked?
You can see how this could irritate people, right? But we had fun with it.
I mention all of this because, the most common question that I have heard in the past month, can really only be answered with a question.
“How can you endure a hardship like this?
“How can I not?”
As believers in Jesus, our ever present help in time of need, what other option do we have but to endure. And not only endure, but eventually thrive again. John 16:33, which I have clung to this past month, has been a scripture of healing to me for years. I have quoted it countless times. I have a beautiful plaque of it hanging above a doorpost in my home (like the Israelites were instructed to do). I have broken it down, memorized it, digested it and lived in its promise for as far back as I can remember. I actually think that my friend and I made a song to go with it when we were just kids.
“These things, I have spoken unto you, that you might have peace, in this world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome this world.”
What this verse does not say is that life will be easy, free of harm, disease, chaos, fear or worry. It won’t be void of tragedy, war, anger or injustice. Tribulation, according to Webster, can be defined in a sand storm of awful ways…suffering, distress, trouble, misery, heartache, woe, anxiety, agony and even grief.
But so often, when Jesus spoke, it was a bad news first, good news is coming, approach.
“Be of good cheer,” (or take heart, or like the Amplified Bible says, be courageous, confident, undaunted and filled with joy). “I have overcome the world.”
What is here, what is now, is suffering, no doubt, for my family, for other families, and for countless people, in countless situations, around the world. We need to remind ourselves daily (sometimes hourly or minute by minute) that Jesus overcame death, and in turn, overcame this world. The job began at the cross, but was completed with an empty tomb.
Our hope can not be in our prayers. Our hope can not be in our worship. Our hope can not be in how good we are or who we help. Our hope can only be in the finished work of Jesus Christ, who challenges us daily to live victoriously in what seems like defeat, to live joy-filled lives, in our saddest and darkest moments and to live courageous in the face of tribulation.
How can you endure this kind of hardship?
With Jesus, how can I not?