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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Perspective at the End of a Week


Divorce is a tough experience with a lot of unknowns and upheavals built into it.  It may be an individual’s first experience with attorneys and courtrooms.  So many questions and decisions can bombard the individual that it creates a feeling of being overwhelmed with a lot of uncertainty and loneliness.  At the end of it all, the divorced individual can end up feeling betrayed, abandoned by family and friends, hopeless and like everything significant has been lost.  In other words, it just isn’t a great experience to have!  However…

This week in the news there has been much made of the downed Malaysian jetliner, shot down over the Ukrainian battlefields.  Dutch families, it seems, were especially hard hit with losses of family members on the plane.  There have been multiple appeals seeking reclamation of the remains of loved ones, and calls for honest investigation to discover how such a tragedy could occur and to hold accountable those who perpetrated the deed.

In the Middle East, Israel and Hamas are battling it out once again, with Palestinian civilians caught in the midst of the battle.  I can’t imagine living in Tel Aviv just now, listening for sirens that might give me only 15 seconds to reach the safety of a shelter, and hoping that the antimissile missiles would protect the city one more time.  I can’t imagine living in Gaza having individuals firing rockets indiscriminately into cities filled with civilians, knowing that as they do so they have intentionally placed my family in harm’s way to use us as shields while the perpetrators hide in shelters, tunnels and fancy hotels.  I can’t imagine walking out into my neighborhood to find it in rubble from missile fire with tanks rolling down the street to weed out the troublemakers.  The fear factor must be enormous.

My parents died natural deaths after long illness and quality medical care.  My wife, children and I live in homes where we are relatively safe with clean water, food nearby and the possibility that our homes could be blown up by an enemy feels pretty remote.  To have suddenly and violently lose one’s most precious family members must be extraordinarily difficult and heart wrenching.  It is hard enough to lose loved ones through natural causes.  And it is hard to believe that callous individuals could create such losses with indifference or even enthusiasm!  Those individuals suffering from loss just now are deserving of our prayers and compassion.  

Divorce is a hard thing.  But there are things that are harder to suffer in our world.  The uncertainty created by the divorce process lasts for months, perhaps for a few years, but it is a temporary uncertainty as the individual begins the process of reordering life under new circumstances.  Some of those we have described have no option of reordering life, for lives have been lost.  The uncertainty of life for those in Israel and Gaza has existed for far too many years…and resolution seems very elusive.  

If you have suffered a divorce, especially if you have experienced it recently and are hurting and bruised, it can be helpful to have some perspective in the midst of it.  Without diminishing the loss and pain of divorce, there are things that are worse, things that could leave deeper and more lasting wounds.  I came out of my divorce bruised, somewhat jaded, and am aware that there are losses in life that can never be regained as divorce left impact on me and those I love.  But none of us are physically maimed by war.  None of us live in fear every day, ready to flee for our lives at a moment’s notice.  

In divorce, it is far too easy to become so self-absorbed in the struggle that perspective is lost and it feels like the absolute worst experience on earth.  Sometimes, in the midst of our own personal struggles (whatever they may be), it helps to realize that there are some things that are not so bad.  In a German concentration camp, Cori ten Boom found that fleas were a good thing…something that taught her things weren’t as bad as they could be, something for which to be thankful.  Whatever your situation, I invite you to join me in finding something in your life for which you can give thanks.  And as you are doing so, you might offer up a prayer for these people I’ve described whose lives are in such terrible upheaval at this time.  

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