What do you do when your life seems to come to a dead stop?
There can be any number of causes - a career or a relationship can suddenly end, or your health can change to make everything you enjoyed before inaccessible.
The feel-good authors will tell you to get back up and dust yourself off.
After all, it doesn't matter how many times you fall, it only matters how many times you get up.
Sincere Christians will tell you to trust that God has something better just waiting for you, and that you should trust His wisdom and providence.
The thing is, when your life's been battered into unrecognizable fragments, getting back up can be pretty unappealing. Why bother, if you've been pink-slipped at 55, or your husband's gone to Acapulco with his secretary. His male secretary.
Sure, you have value that transcends what people may do...but at those moments, just try to believe it. You can't. (Or, anyway, I sure can't.)
And yes, God cares, but it seems pretty abstract. When you're afraid to get the mail because, what can it be but bad news? - it can feel like you're at the wrong end of God's bowling alley.
Pretty hard to 'count it all joy' when, Hello! - here comes another 16-lb ball. And God don't throw no gutterballs.
So what do you do? Shrivel up in a ball like a spider in a propane flame?
You can, but first, think about someone else whose life went horribly wrong. Or should I say, Someone else.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem the crowds threw palm fronds on the road in front of Him. When he left, on the way to Golgotha, the same people were throwing rocks.
Could He pick himself up, dust Himself off? He probably could have, being God and all, but He didn't. It wasn't what He came for.
And do you believe for a minute that He counted it all joy? That the Via Dolorosa was kind of like a stroll down Rodeo Drive with an uncapped Visa card?
Good. Neither do I.
Jesus had to do one thing. He had to take it. All of it. He had to take the hurt and the humiliation, the sorrow and the suffering. He had to live the full measure of those things - and he had to complete the experience in a feeling of abandonment. "Why have You forsaken me?"
Modern preachers like to say that Jesus didn't really feel abandoned by God. He felt that the sin he was carrying for humanity was abandoned.
What a load of hooey. The guy was being tortured to death. He was hurting. He wasn';t splitting theological hairs.
And in the end, He rose from the dead, to a greater glory than anyone imagined.
But he had to be DEAD first!
When you're hurting, live with it. Don't let people make you feel bad because it hurts, and you can't get over it yet. Don't think that you're not a good Christian because you can't walk out whistling a happy tune.
Sit and bleed awhile. You'll be in good Company, and eventually, if you take His hand, that Company will pull you back onto your feet.