What You Never Expected

what-you-never-expected

The opening story of the evening news was about a parent who forgot her child in the car. The day’s temperature was 107 degrees, outside of the car. The next story was about several people gunned down, and the next one detailed a car accident that resulted in severe injuries to all parties. By then, I turned the channel.

We hear about crises all the time. Sometimes we receive reports from friends and family about recent deaths or diseases, accidents, unexpected losses, divorces, financial hardships, and ongoing national disasters. At other times, television news or Internet sites report an impending crisis in the economy, the weather, or our neighborhoods. Regardless of how often we hear about crises in general, when they happen close to home—to a loved one, a friend, a family member, or to us personally—most people say, “I never expected this would happen to me, to us, to them, or around here.” Rarely does a person expect a crisis to be personal; therefore, rarely are most people prepared for the recovery process.

In Dr. H. Norman Wright’s book titled A New Guide to Crisis and Trauma Counseling: A Practical Guide for Ministers, Counselors, and Lay Counselors, he wrote:

The journey through life is a series of losses, crises and, in some cases, traumas—some are predictable and expected, but others are total surprises. Some crises are developmental; some are situational. . . . Being alive means that we constantly have to resolve problems. Every new situation we encounter provides us the opportunity to develop new ways of using our resources . . . [and] by being persistent, we discover ways to overcome these problems. . . .

One day, however, we will encounter a change or problem that seems beyond our capacity to cope. When a problem is overwhelming, or when our support system—within ourselves or from others—doesn’t work, we are thrown off balance.¹

Many of us are currently enduring a crisis. We are filled with worry, panic, pain, and loneliness. As adults, we must remember that crisis and chaos affect others as well—specifically children and adolescents. They often encounter awful tragedies with very few resources to get through the pain. As adults, we are responsible to look out for their well-being, as well as our own.

Yes, crisis changes the course of our lives. But what we often forget is that the changes can open doors to a life better than what would have been if the crisis had not happened. When we turn to our powerful and sovereign God, He opens our eyes to new and different opportunities, which creates new hope. God brings that hope by directing our lives to a meaningful purpose during the healing process. Sometimes we need guidance in moving forward, in getting through that process.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Plan time for purposeful self reflection: Identify your feelings; then talk with the Lord about them, seeking wisdom and direction. Commune alone with Christ at intervals throughout each day. Seek an older, spiritually sound individual to assist you with your struggles.
  2. Pursue healing from your losses: Choose to face the losses and pain you experience. It is helpful to begin a journal, to meet with a counselor or mentor regularly, and to document significant losses on a timeline. Allow yourself to grieve, then ask the Lord for His healing. You might also become active in a group recovery program or a related class.
  3. Practice spiritual disciplines: To discipline means to set in a right course or direction. In other words, set your mind on what is right, good, true, and pure. Begin with some of these ideas: meditate, recite, or memorize a passage of Scripture that speaks of what is right and pure, of walking in wisdom, or of an attribute of God such as His sovereignty, faithfulness, goodness, righteousness, power, justice, and holiness. You could also spend time each day in prayer following the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9–13.

May these actions become rich reservoirs of restoration for you in the days ahead.

  1. H. Norman Wright, A New Guide to Crisis and Trauma Counseling: A Practical Guide for Ministers, Counselors, and Lay Counselors (Ventura, Calif.: Regal, 2003), 9.

About the author

ColleenS

Colleen Swindoll Thompson

Colleen Swindoll Thompson holds a bachelor of arts degree in Communication from Trinity International University as well as minors in psychology and education. Colleen serves as the director of Reframing Ministries at Insight for Living Ministries. From the personal challenges of raising a child with disabilities (her son Jonathan), Colleen offers help, hope, and a good dose of humor through speaking, writing, and counseling those affected by disability. Colleen and her husband, Toban, have five children and reside in Frisco, Texas.

More articles by Colleen Swindoll Thompson