There was evil in the air last Saturday.
A horrific tragedy unfolded in my community when a husband decided to kill his wife and children, before lighting their home on fire and subsequently committing suicide. On the same day, a friend had her basement renters also commit suicide. On the same day, an Airman I mentor lost his brother in a terrible car accident.
These three separate events, in three separate cities, have impacted my life this week. Not because I knew the key players, but because it has impacted people I care about. It has impacted my church’s youth group. It has impacted my military community. It has impacted the elementary school.
When I found out about my Airmen’s brother’s death, I told him that I was available if he needed to chat. He’s Muslim. I’m Christian. I wanted to offer prayers, but was unsure how to say that without offending him or his family. I was treading softly, as we are both Active Duty. He told me, “Chief, I’m going through a rough patch.” And my immediate response was this: “It’s okay to be going through a rough patch. It’s not okay to stay there for a long time.”
No one enjoys hard times….the rough patches. And yet, we’ve all had a rough patch. The rough patches could be unemployment, divorce, infertility or the rough patch could be health related. The rough patch could be gossip, slander, low self-esteem or loneliness. The rough patch could be death: a family member, a murder, or a suicide. There are thousands of reasons for the rough patches. Rough Patches are really hard when you feel as though you have done everything correctly, but you still have to suffer through the rough patch.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:12-19 (NIV)
In 1 Peter 4:12-19, we read that there will be suffering for the Christian. We will see and experience the rough patches. Essentially, we should expect some amount of trial and tribulation, and yet we should also continue to press forward looking towards God for help and comfort.
The rough patch offers us time to examine ourselves while in the trial and allows us to entrust ourselves to God within the trial.
Peter warns us in verse 12 that the trials are expected. Yet, we are often surprised by the intensity of the trials. Peter refers to the trials as a “Fiery Ordeal.” I don’t know about you, but the adjective “fiery” makes me feel like this is a super big deal! Fiery is intense.
More than the intensity, I think I’m often surprised by the purpose of the rough patch. On a brain level, I understand that God is allowing us time to draw closer to Him. On a heart level, I want so desperately to have everyone healthy and happy around me! I understand the trial’s ultimate purpose, but like most of us, I would rather not fulfill the purpose through a rough patch.
When there is evil in the air…when we are facing hard times…when we are going through a rough patch, it’s so much easier to bear the burden in remembering that our God is for us. He is with us. He is allowing us to stretch and grow through trials in order to be closer to Him.
The rough patches suck. They’re horrible. But it’s okay to be in the rough patch. They have purpose. They let us grow.
Just don’t stay there for too long.
P.S. If you are contemplating staying in the rough patch too long, I am praying that you seek Godly council.Find a strong Christian woman to pray with, talk to your Pastor, call a suicide hotline…please, please, please get help.
The rough patch is meant to grow you…not break you.