Why Try?

Someone I know has had an agonizing time trying to get a family member out of a foreign country. The specifics must be withheld, for good reason. Just know it has been a grueling, potentially life-and-death ordeal based on politics and power.

It’s a case of individuals imploring national government, the small guys rebuffed by powers that be, living conditions prime for contracting diseases, a divide of thousands of miles, travel restrictions, and complicated laws. Add to that finite personal resources of time and finances, and it’s been two long years of herculean efforts going nowhere.

Meanwhile, life must go on, including caring for other family and responsibilities, and when able, attending the same vocation-related meeting I do. Yesterday we were mid-discussion when someone rounded the basement stairway to join us. We looked up to see our friend had arrived.

But it was not just one person standing there …

The wonderful, impossible, beautiful, astonishing, too-good-to-be-true TRUTH of it sank in slowly …

The aforementioned family member caught up in international politics was there, too. At our meeting. They were together. A two-year nightmare was over.

Every second of that realization was unforgettable — they were settled into the empty space next to me long before I absorbed it all. They were living (and touchable!) proof that situations appearing hopeless can change for the good in an instant. And when they do, unspeakable joy is the result. That joy is contagious, too — I sure caught it. I can attest that it is a privilege to know enough of the struggle to appreciate the victory.

Their reunion represented all things right in a world too often wrong. They were examples of why we should all cling to hope, fight for justice and life, ask for help in the difficult battles, and never give up.

Dramatic turnarounds do happen. I witnessed one yesterday, and oh, was it good.


Words of a Wise Man

I know a man who has never had it easy. Since birth, his life was an uphill battle. He was victimized by people, to put it mildly. The details of his story are his to tell — just know the series of tragedies that came his way should never happen to anyone.

Equally unfair, his trials persist. He faces often-overwhelming challenges. While many of us struggle in an area or two, his burdens are multitudinous: physical, domestic, social, emotional, psychological, communicative, financial. It seems he can’t catch a break on this planet.

Still, remarkably, he rebounds. He somehow comes through each injustice with his hope and motivation intact. He has a kind nature and inexplicable optimism.

This embattled friend taught me a great lesson recently. He wrote ten words, a timely sermon distilled to profundity:

“Trying so hard to make it work … God help me …”

Why is it that the balance between effort and reliance is so difficult to find? My friend reminded me the impossible isn’t meant to be accomplished solely by human effort. When we try but fall short, it’s not over — we can expect God to make up the difference. When we buckle under heavy loads, he will take the bulk of the weight. He is the God of the impossible, the God of power, the God of miracles.

As I attempt to balance effort and reliance, I remember the wise words of my friend. After all, he knows a thing or two about striving against the odds.

“Trying so hard to make it work … God help me …”