You are a survivor. The odds were against you and you beat them. You escaped from the terrible car accident unscathed. You got the job in the nick of time and now you will be able to pay your mortgage before it becomes past due. You are now five years past cancer treatment and there is still no evidence of disease. You share the good news with everyone and you have good reason to rejoice. You are a survivor. Congratulations! You have good reason to celebrate and indeed you should.
Then something happens. Someone you love does not simply walk away from an accident. Instead they are seriously injured, perhaps permanently. A friend does not get the job. In fact, they file bankruptcy but since they are still unable to pay their mortgage they lose their home and are now homeless. You learn that a friend has a recurrence of cancer or a family member suddenly and unexpectly dies from a ruptured aorta. Suddenly you not only feel sadness and grief, you feel guilt and perhaps even some shame.
It is called "Survivor's Guilt" and yes, it is normal. For some of us, it is worse than for others, particularly if you have survived a trauma that others have not.
As a cancer and ruptured brain aneurysm survivor, I actually face this a lot. Every time I hear of someone who has died from cancer or an aneurysm, it slaps me in the face. The same is true whenever I hear of someone having a recurrence, having more debilitating side-effects and so forth.
My husband helps me put this into perspective and hopefully I can help others who struggle with this put it into perspective as well. It is not my "fault" when I survive something and someone else does not. Also, I must remember that we all have our own "story" that we live which is being written by God. I do not see the whole picture of things. I only see my very narrow portion and often I don't see that very well.
Guilt separates us from people. It prevents us from reaching out to the wounded and oppressed and may even cause us to avoid them because we don't know what to say or do. We fear that our very presence may even be a painful reminder that we survived and they (or their loved one) did not.
Guilt along with condemnation is a weapon the enemy uses to not only hurt us but to hurt others as well. Rather than allowing the enemy to cripple us with guilt, we must cast it aside at the foot of the Cross which is exactly where it belongs.
"Survivors" are not emissaries of despair. They are emissaries of hope. Even in our suffering and grief they remind us that no matter how dark it is... there is hope.
Photo Credit: ©Dima Lomachevsky / Stockfresh
It is those times of pain and loss and suffering that build our faith. When we know God is carrying us through those times and we can still rejoice in Him. It is only, In Christ, that the pain and suffering of this world is put into perspective as ephemeral and transitory. We are creatures gifted with the ability to learn and grow and with suffering we learn the pain of this life and then can show real empathy for those that suffer. We look at the cross and know that God the Father and God the Son suffered for us to bring us into His Kingdom. Our God is not a God that does not understand suffering, pain and loss.
This is a large mission field you mention and an issue that is understood better (and excepted today) more than ever in the past.
It is something I have no experience in so I always just listen or read.
[quote]They are emissaries of hope. Even in our suffering and grief they remind us that no matter how dark it is... there is hope.[/quote]
Aside from prayer this helps me understand more what few words might be said.
Thank you for a very good blog,
[quote]"Survivors" are not emissaries of despair. They are emissaries of hope. Even in our suffering and grief they remind us that no matter how dark it is... there is hope[/quote]
They do indeed. What would we do without them.
[quote]I do not see the whole picture of things. I only see my very narrow portion and often I don't see that very well.[/quote]
Amen to that, with emphasis on the last part ~
Excellent blog, K!