Footsteps in Faith: Friends, family and faith are powerful allies during troubled times

| September 17, 2010 | 0 Comments

Chaplain (Maj.) Dave Shoffner
130th Engineer Brigade Chaplain, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

ShoffnerOur post was shaken again by the tragic loss of two of our Soldiers and the wounding of several others.

These were not the first and, sadly, will most likely not be the last losses we will face. After almost 10 years in the current conflict, and even more for those of us who have been around awhile (Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, Panama, Desert Shield\Storm), loss has become an all-to-frequent visitor, and has touched all of us in some way, shape or form. 

The events of this recent loss brought grief back into our daily lives once again. “So, chaplain, where can we find comfort and peace in times of loss?”

I have shared with many families through the years who were going through a time of grief, and have spoken at many memorial services and funerals. I have been at the roadside, houses, hospitals and aid stations, and prayed with these families, Soldiers and medical personnel as their friends, comrades and family members did not make it.

What I have learned is that there are no magic words, no special prayer, no single acts of kindness that are going to make it all better. 

Losing someone hurts. In fact, “hurt” does not even begin to describe how the pain feels.

So where can we turn in the midst of our despair? My best suggestion is one you have most likely heard before, but you may need to hear again: friends, family and faith.

One of the most powerful aspects of the Scripture is how it is a collection of unvarnished stories of people’s lives, and how God interacted with them in the midst of their experiences. One of the reasons these stories touch us so deeply is because we can relate to the failings, as well as the triumphs.

In a time of loss, no Biblical character speaks louder than Job. Job literally lost everything. His children were all killed in a freak accident. He lost all of his wealth to raiders and natural disasters. In the end, even his health failed him. But when we take a second look at Job’s story, did Job really lose everything? 

As the story unfolds, Job’s three friends hear of Job’s plight and come to comfort him. His friends didn’t always say the right things – and at the end of the story, God scolds them for some of the things they said to Job – but in his deepest time of trouble, they were there. Job’s wife also loses her faith and gives him bad advice, but still, through it all, she stays with Job.

But the heart of the story revolves around the dialogue between Job and God. There are tense moments and there are angry moments, there are comforting moments and promising moments, but the main point of the story is that Job turned to and stayed engaged with God through it all.

Job’s friends, family and faith carried him through the valley of the shadow of death. In the closing chapter of the book, and as the darkness of the long period of grief begins to lift just a little, we are told that God restores Job.

Life begins to return – not to normal – but to a new normal. The final scene is of Job surrounded by his family and friends, once again enjoying the blessings of the Lord. Remember, faith, family and friends are powerful allies when we suffer loss.


Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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