My sister is a pastor in NC. This week she was asked to visit a young woman who had been in a horrific car accident, hit by a drunk driver. Her neck and back were broken, her arm severed; CPR was administered twice before she got to the hospital. She was in excruciating pain following multiple surgeries. After being sent home, she wanted to talk to a minister about what had happened to her, try to understand, her father told the pastor, how God could allow such evil to come into her life. When my sister arrived at the bedside, the young woman began to talk about the accident, about what she was feeling, and about her pain; and she explained that she did not remember anything about that night. She had to be told by the first responders about the extent of her injuries, about the other driver, about how he was speeding on the wrong side of the road when she was hit. But even after being told details, nothing, she told my sister, was clear in her mind about the accident; nothing was there for her to remember except one thing. There is only one memory of the event.
Her grandmother, long since deceased, came to her at some point after the wreck, held her hand, and said with great authority. “This is going to be bad; so hold on.”
That is her only memory of the worst night in her life.
I’ve been a hospice chaplain a long time. I’ve heard more stories of heavenly visitors coming to those who were dying than stories of no one coming. I’ve heard so many of these stories that I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, in spirits or angels or the dead returning to help loved ones cross over to the other side or bring messages of hope, of courage. This story, however, gives me chills. It was so powerful that I had to stop my sister from telling me more about what it was like for her in this pastoral setting and ask, “Can I tell this to others?” And when she said yes she had permission to share the story, I replied, “Then wait, I have to write that down.”
“This is going to be bad; so hold on.”
At some point in our lives, we all face circumstances and struggles and trouble that threaten to take us down. We all know what our particular brand of “bad” feels like. What I don’t know is whether we all have experienced the message of someone who knows, saying to us, “hold on.”
COVID is not going away. Navigating economic distress, facing racial strife and injustices, struggling with the consequences of a polarized society, consequences of mental illness, rises in suicide and despair and a general state of weariness is not going away. So, the world looks to us as people who claim to have faith; and just like a deceased grandmother stepping across the great divide to speak to the mangled body and distressed mind of a beloved grandchild, we are called to say, “hold on.”
Hold on to the knowledge that God has not abandoned us. Hold on to the belief that we are not alone in our struggles. Hold on to the truth of our faith histories speak to us again and again that our God is a faithful God who will not let us go.
I don’t know what you’re facing in these August days. I don’t know how you struggle or where you are on the “giving up” continuum. I don’t know what you need on a late Wednesday afternoon; but I just wanted to say, “hold on, it may be bad or it may get bad, but you are not alone. Hold on.”
You are the light of the world,