Before I was introduced to Sid Meier’s “Civilization,” my favorite game was played in the original Nintendo. You remember how it starts, the screen rolls up and you have exactly a few seconds to thumb the controls, “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, ‘B,’ ‘A,’ ‘Start.’” Following this combination gave your Contra figure like 100 lives which were about 80 more than I needed to drill the spread shot, my favorite weapon on the game, into the heart of the creepy antagonist creature at the end of the game. Spread shot helped annihilate the spider looking animals that would hatch and try to get you as well. It was also a two player game, always fun times when the first player would play too fast and the second guy would get caught between a rock and the bottom of the screen.

Although these games can be programmed for success, a little secret knowledge that guaranteed victory, life is not so clean cut. Life has those incredible joys which never tango with the wish for a robotic panacea. Some would include the day of marriage, or the birth of your children, or graduating for school, or a promotion, or the loving marital embrace between a husband and wife or as I call it “marital ecstasy.”

Yesterday, I read Trysta’s blog post, “The V-Word: A Personal Struggle.” It was reminder that life also includes devastation to persons, communities, countries, and even the globe. Some are weather driven, some are created like wars; the most difficult for me to understand, to me anyway, are the violations to a child. Just the thought of the most innocent people that walk the earth being abused by an adult sickens me. The child victim then must go day to day with the wreckage that such an action leaves behind. It makes you scream, “Why?” The child must go through life knowing his innocence has been violated, mistrusting those that he is taught to trust (typically family members, those in authority, or family friends), which are only a few of the many struggles a person may experience. It is these times of survival when the desire to have the secret code to life’s program may be desired the most. Sometimes the code is sought with needles, a bottle, a knife, or self-destruction.

Having experienced suffering in life, I can only recommend what has helped me get through “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” wrought by “Whips and Scorns of time, The Oppressor's wrong, the proud man's Contumely, The pangs of disprized love, the Lawes delay, The insolence of Office” or any number or mixture of those listed. One thing has given me an answer to why my suffering is and was valuable, that answer is the Cross. “Why me?” I have asked, and “Why Him?” was the reply that made most sense to me.

Life’s “sea of troubles” can seem insurmountable at times. If you reach the bottom, reach up for help. There are plenty of people that have suffered yours or similar ails and are willing to walk you through and even carry you over these valleys.

Here is a list that has helped in my times of devastation:

  1. “Lean on me”: speak with a trusted friend or family member, or a meet with a counselor, or pastor or priest

  2. “No man is an island”: this helped me realize that many have been hurt in a similar fashion and know the struggles that I faced.

  3. History: I know this seems like a cold aid, but it helped me to know that life has highs and life has lows. Just as those who walked before us have suffered victoriously, it gave me hope that this too shall pass or can be handled.

  4. Serving others. This showed me that I am not alone in my suffering.

  5. Donation. Offering yourself for the good of another. As I suffered and learned from my hurt, I am able to help others that now suffer. This is one of the greatest blessings that come with being hurt.

What are some things that have helped you in times of personal suffering? Have you wondered as Creed asks, “What’s this life for?” Has this helped understand the highs of life? The lows?