The depth of my responses to this week's Friday Five will not match the depth of the questions -- partly because I'm doing this on a break and partly because I'm still on a high from my Wednesday Leelanau Peninsula mini-vacation -- but I'll give it a try nonetheless.
1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...
Many years ago I quit a job in a community I enjoyed, with coworkers I enjoyed, in order to take what I thought would be a much better job, with better opportunities for education and advancement, at a regional university. I'd also be somewhat closer to my recently widowed mother. My goal was to take advantage of the school's policy of free tuition for employees and pursue a master's degree. Long story short, by the end of my first week in the new position, I knew that I had made a terrible mistake. Four months later I had an ulcer, was insomniac and was utterly miserable. The day after I passed my probationary period -- with kudos from my boss, and a raise -- I gave my two weeks' notice.
So here I was -- no job; no new job in hand; moved back home with Mom.
But as sad and angry and disappointed as I was, I had an underlying sense that God was with me and was about to steer me into a new direction. And that was indeed what happened. Looking back, I see this episode in my life, as painful as it was at the time, as a learning experience that has helped me subsequently.
2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?
I experience this with regularity. What gets me through is the Jesus Prayer -- "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner" -- and fixed prayer. As someone once noted, sometimes one has to go through the motions to get the emotions.
3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort.
"Don't be afraid" -- a consistent message in Scripture when humans encounter the Divine. (Not that I don't still feel afraid!)
4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?
I think it's a valid question in that it's understandable that we ask it. But for me I find it more sane and healing to begin with the assumption, as my Buddhist friends do, that life inherently involves suffering...and to move past the "why" into the "What can I do about this suffering?"
5. (I'm paraphrasing because I didn't cut-and-paste very accurately): Your difficult time has passed and you want to celebrate. What do you do?
Simmply cherish my time with my beloved and our four-legged family members. Our family time together is the best place to be.