Nearly two years ago, a portion of the sanctuary floor of Central Heights Church in Abbotsford, B.C. (which happens to be the church I attend) collapsed during a Starfield concert. Dozens were injured. Debbie Helsloot, a 41-year-old mother of three, was most seriously hurt.
Debbie suffered a broken neck. She spent more than 6 weeks in the hospital and nearly 3 months in rehab, learning to walk again. Her injuries have left her with balance issues, making walking awkward and climbing stairs a challenge. She requires physical therapy three times a week. Her physical endurance is nowhere near what it was before the accident.
It was my privilege to interview Debbie recently and to write her profile. What an amazing woman she is. While in the hospital, she determined to make the best of a difficult situation so she made it her goal to share Christ’s love with the nurses who cared for her. She refused to be discouraged by the doctors’ prognosis of permanent paralysis. And she rejected any hint of a victim mentality. Instead, she acknowledged God’s sovereignty in her life and has chosen to embrace her circumstances as an opportunity to know His strength in her life to a new degree.
Debbie is my modern-day hero.
Joseph is my hero, too. This guy went through so much stuff – sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused of rape, tossed into prison for a crime he didn’t commit, forgotten by the man who promised to help his case – and yet, he refused to let his circumstances shape his outlook. Like Debbie, he rejected any hint of a victim mentality. He recognized God’s sovereignty in his life, and that attitude shaped his entire perspective. The names he gave his sons reflect this:
“Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, ‘God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.’ Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief’” (Genesis 41:51,52).
What an attitude! Joseph deliberately chose not to dwell on the way others had mistreated him. He chose not to badmouth his offenders or to seek revenge. Instead, he focused on God’s healing power in his life, and on the good things He’d done in the midst of the tough stuff.
When life takes an unexpected and difficult detour, it’s easy to get sucked into a ‘woe-is-me’ mentality. It takes courage and determination to steer clear of that common pitfall and travel a different route. How is it possible? Here are a few thoughts:
- Give thanks in all things. We might not feel like giving thanks for our circumstances, but we can give thanks in them. For instance, we can give thanks that God’s love for us will never end, and that His promises never fail.
- Refuse to dwell on the what-ifs. Instead, dwell on the for-sures. For sure, God has not abandoned us. For sure, the pain of this earthly life is temporal. For sure, heaven awaits where all sorrow and tears will be forever wiped away.
- Know that God wants to make us fruitful in the land of our grief. When we respond to trials as Debbie and Joseph did, our lives will bear fruit. Our understanding of God’s character is deepened. And we’ll have opportunity to tell others about our reason for hope. Our words will encourage them when they travel the rocky road.
Debbie and Joseph are my heroes. Do you have a hero who has displayed strength and courage in the face of extreme difficulties? If so, tell us about this person so that we can be encouraged, too.