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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

The Abyss

There have been a number of occasions in my life where I can say that I felt as if I was staring into the abyss. The way forward was unclear, even dark and I had a sense of foreboding about what might unfold in the near future. I am not by nature a pessimistic person. I might even be accused of being more optimistic than not, so these bouts of uncertainty bordering on dread are neither usual nor welcome. What’s more they are not always prophetic.

Maybe you have had a similar experience. Waiting to hear about a medical test, yours or a loved one or perhaps an unexpected turn of events that while not entirely negative can seem to herald a more portentous gloom on the horizon. Fears are not necessarily irrational, they may come from experience, ours or those of others, though sometimes they are a way our minds intuit what we know but cannot give voice to as yet.

We are not promised a trouble-free existence. Far from it, we know that our lives will have their share of sadness and reversal no matter how much we try to avoid it. We will be hurt--physically or emotionally or both at some point. But it is in how we handle these situations that we learn about ourselves and those around us. In truth nothing prepares us for adversity except adversity. What’s more, it is hard to envision how we will respond until we are faced with the reality of our fears. No doubt we will be tested and it may take us a long time to recover from any setback, but we can and that is all we can offer to those who have not yet suffered a trial of faith. There, I have said it, because it is faith that we must look to as a source of resilience when the abyss looms.

In case you think I am suggesting we just give it up to God, let me say that is not my purpose. I wish we could, but most of us are not easily persuaded that there is nothing for us to do when presented with calamity. We mostly tend to look to ourselves for answers. Our ‘self’ does not cede control without a fight. Only in the midst of intractable difficulty when we are overwhelmed are we likely to turn outward for help.

The kind of faith I am talking about is one known best to those who have suffered terrible difficulty. It is a faith that we can and will prevail. A faith that however hard it may be in the moment, there will be a time when we will once again taste life’s joy. This is something more than belief in oneself. I hesitate to label it for fear of reducing the ineffable to the trivial. But those who have been through the dark and emerged into the light know this faith, they have lived it before and know it will sustain them.

I hope you will be spared such difficulties, that your trials will be small ones; but none of us gets out of this alive so there is a better than 99% chance we are all going to walk this path at some point. When you do, reach out—I promise that a hand will reach back.

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