By Greg Schmidt, chaplain and bereavement coordinator, Heart & Soul Hospice

Benjamin Franklin said “… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He forgot to add one additional “for sure thing.” Change! Everyone’s life will change. Nothing will be constant. With every challenge – birth, celebration or achievement, and death – our lives are (sometimes dramatically) changed. And with each change, one can count on challenges that will push them to what they believe is the limit of their capability to embrace it. With most change we experience more joy and/or sadness than we ever imagined possible.

And in the midst of every gut-wrenching disappointment, positive or negative change, miracle and/or rejection … the very essence of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – simultaneously lives within us and walks beside us. “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you!” (Hebrews 13:5b; NRSV, emphasis mine). Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE renders the passage “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you”, and then says “God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?”

I think one of the obvious imports of the passage is that God longs to walk beside us regardless of what we’re facing. He’s not running when someone or something shatters our world … and we’re forced to change. He is never distracted. He never closes his eyes. Or looks the other way. When we are hemorrhaging – not simply bleeding – the Divine Physician is working. To repair. To bind up. To heal. To restore. To establish a new day. A new “normal.” And not because He has to love us, but because He wants us to know He’s NEVER stopped loving us or longing for the very best for our life.

I want to believe that from God’s perspective, the tragedies and challenges of our lives are not about “surviving,” but about realizing that the incomprehensible greatness and life-giving power of His transformational love meets and exceeds our needs. Embrace that love. It’s there for everyone that reaches out … and picks it. Don’t be fooled into thinking there’s another way. There isn’t. Accept the gift of God’s love as He intends to give it. Why? For the opportunity to willingly and purposefully place your hand in His to begin … or revive … a relationship with Him. Receive His perfect peace … and to walk in the garden in the cool of the day …” as He did “in the beginning” (Genesis 3:8, NIV).