Updated: Apr 14
2 Corinthians 1: 3-5
The teenager climbed into the car with his parents, brother and sister. He is the only one who emerged from the car alive.
Ten years later, that teenager, Simon Stephens, was a chaplain at the Warwickshire Hospital in England when another family experienced the tragedy of a car accident. The family of teenager Billy Henderson was crushed and grieving when they met Rev. Stephens. At the same time, Stephens was counseling another family, the Lawleys, whose young son Kenneth had just died from a disease.
Despite his own deep experience with grief, Stephens got the idea that these two families could help each other more than he could. Meeting around a kitchen table, Iris and Joe Lawley met with Stephens and with Joan and Bill Henderson. Stephens was right; the couples found in each other new friends who understood their true challenges, who could listen without judgment or advice to "get over it." Instead, they received a hand, a hug, a tear, a knowledgeable nod of understanding.
From that experience emerged an organization, Compassionate Friends. Chapters exist in 30 countries, including the United States, where they have a presence in all 50 states plus districts and territories. The Compassionate Friends organization provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.
In my book and video series, The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life, I talk about how a crisis changes you permanently. The Next Thing cover artwork above symbolizes this.
On the left, the white string represents God, the light blue string represents you, and the black string represents the looming crisis that is about to occur.
In the middle, the crisis is represented by a tangle of "Next Things," the sequence of events that make up a crisis, plus the activities to address the crisis, the people God sends into your life to help you. It's a swirl and a tangle. These activities and sometimes even the people will fade away after the crisis.
On the right, emerging from the crisis, the strings of God, you and the crisis are woven together more tightly. You have been changed. The crisis is always part of you. Hopefully you are tighter with God as a result, too.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1: 3-5:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
We can comfort others after our crisis, just as Rev. Simon Stephens did, because we have insight into what others are experiencing, as well as the comfort of Jesus transmitted through us.
I have a friend with four youngsters at home. It's a stressful time as his wife has returned to work. The stress they feel, especially her, can be overwhelming. My friend read The Next Thing and felt relieved that there was someone (me) who had traveled this path before. He commented to me yesterday that it seems every time I reach out to check on him, or whenever he happens to read material from me like this blog, it is timely and speaks directly to what he is experiencing.
I simply told him, "God is good." What I meant was:
God is good as He is empathetic, experiencing the crisis-filled path of a human as He did in Jesus.
God is good as He reclaims the Next Things of the crisis, building something out of the ashes such as Compassionate Friends.
God is good as He offers peace and comfort in the midst of chaos, whether directly through His spirit, or indirectly through the people He sends to walk beside us.
You have experienced crises in your life; I have no doubt. As you travel your 7-day practical faith journey, how has each crisis changed you? How can you put your faith into action, helping someone else in crisis, becoming the one at their side with a hand, a hug, a tear, a knowledgeable nod of understanding?
I would like to take the opportunity to refer you to an important link if you are or know someone who struggles with addition. Grief can be a trigger during recovery. For more on this topic, please read https://www.bicyclehealth.com/blog/cope-with-grief-in-recovery. This educational guide helps you understand how to best cope with grief including information on how grief can trigger addiction, tips to cope with grief and some helpful resources.
Another helpful resource is my work, The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life , now available as a book and video series from CecilTaylorMinistries.com. The book can also be found on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com by searching for "The Next Thing Cecil Taylor". Also check it out at DoveChristianPublishers.com by searching their catalog of new releases. The Next Thing Participant's Guide is a workbook and study guide to process the book and video series further, found at the same sites mentioned above. It's ideal for you individually or for your small group when studying the video series or book together.