Where do you find strength and support to survive unexpected crisis or tragedy? I asked a friend how he and his wife were surviving a tragic event in their lives. He answered, "ONE MINUTE AT A TIME." Although surrounded by a host of family and church friends, the bottom line is that they suffered minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, hanging on to the promise and support of their Christian faith to literally carry them through one of the darkest period of their lives.

Sometimes sincere and caring people say senseless things when trying to be supportive.  "I understand what you are going through," is said so often and really doesn't help the one who is grieving.  They want to respond by saying, "NO! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!"  Instead they hide their anger and hurt and put on a placid face.

None of us, no matter the extent of our own grief, can really comprehend what another person is experiencing. We may empathize and desire to provide words of comfort and support. Yet, words are not so much needed, as a simple caring touch and reminder that you support them with your presence and prayers.

"There is no way to bypass grief and sorrow when tragedy strikes your life," Eugene R. Wheeler wrote in his booklet, "Finding Strength to Survive a Crisis or Tragedy.”  "Yet, as you face the grief head-on, you find that you gradually can recover from the devastation. The end result is that you can grow stronger in the process."

 "Allow yourself to grieve," Wheeler added. "You must fully experience your grief if you are to be fully healed. The purpose of grieving is to help you get to the point where you can remember without the pain."

Wheeler continued, "Consult experts to help you care for yourself.   Seek help from your pastor and pastoral counselor. Your community of faith can be your strongest ally during your spiritual crisis or simply for emotional support.”

“Gradually you will find that adversity is a gentle teacher, guiding you to a greater perspective on life and illuminating lasting values,” Wheeler concludes. “Though God may seem hard to reach in your present state of mind, try to be receptive to the divine presence, allowing God to reach you. God's eternal love can be a powerful force in your healing process, guiding your response to crisis from despair to hope.”

Paul wrote a brief letter to the Philippian Christians.  He was actually  chained in a prison dungeon, facing imminent death.  In the "hole" where he was put by the Roman Guard, nearly starving to death, he wrote a personal letter of encouragement and support to his Christian brothers and sisters with these powerful words:

    “I HAVE LEARNED to be content whatever the circumstances.  I KNOW what it is to be in need, and I KNOW what it is to have plenty. I HAVE LEARNED the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I CAN do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV)

Out of a broken heart, crushed by his wife's and newborn son’s death, Thomas Dorsey cried to the Lord to lead him,
    Precious Lord, Take My Hand,   Lead me on, help me stand,  
    I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;  
    Thro’ the storm, through the night,   Lead me on to the light,  
    Take my hand, precious Lord,   Lead me home.

    When my way grows drear,  Precious Lord, linger near  
    When my life is almost gone.  
    Hear my cry, hear my call,  Hold my hand lest I fall  
    Take my hand, precious Lord,  Lead me home.

(Excerpts from Amazing Grace, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions,  by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 260)
(Excerpts from "Finding Strength to Survive a Crisis or Tragedy,"  Eugene G. Wheeler, Care Notes,
(Excerpts taken from an original article by David L. Cowles appeared in the “Your Faith” page of the
Newark Advocate, OH, 2003)