Hold on to the Cross

We’ve been through a lot…so have you. None of us are exempt from pain in this world. Nobody’s pain is worse than another’s. None of us have any idea of what pain another person goes through.

A person I love once told me faith is a crutch, that it’s just something people turn to when they have nowhere else to turn, when they aren’t strong enough to handle life on their own. Another person told me I’m blind, that no God would allow drug problems and suffering. Yet another told me I’m wasting my time, that believing in something I can’t see is such a waste of my time on this earth…that I should focus on “more important” things.

It’s amazing the armor you can receive to be able to stand your ground for your beliefs even when life just seems to keep trying to beat you down. While I remember these comments, the lack of ability that some have to have a relationship with God at this point in their faith journeys is only fuel for my fire…for my mission.

I once heard a quote, and I’m not sure who to give the credit to. But essentially, this person said, “If I’m wrong about God, then I’ve wasted my life on Earth. But if you’re wrong…you’ve wasted your eternity.”

So when I hear that others don’t believe, when someone wants to stand in my faith path, I pray for them. It’s as simple as that. I hold on to my cross. I stand my ground with my armor of God strong and shiny. I don’t apologize for my beliefs. I won’t be sorry for trying my hardest every single day to live my faith, to share my God, and to be a good example of Christianity. After all, my purpose is to end up in eternity with all of you.

You see, there are a lot of people in my life whom have put their faith in the hands of other Christians as opposed to allowing God to guide their  journeys. And I get it; sometimes it’s hard to find the light through the darkness. Opening our eyes to His grace, especially when we are so confused by the darkness, is the hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn. If we believe in good, we also believe in evil. Think about it. Is God the one who causes pain and suffering? Is God the One who gave us cancer, depression, medical issues, financial difficulties, slavery, racism, natural disasters…? I don’t believe He did. God is the One giving us the doctors, the medications, the counselors, the financial advisors, the policemen, the firefighters, the armed forces, the people running toward the disaster instead of away, the people suiting up daily to put on their armor of God and fight in the name of good… God will allow bad things to happen. Yes. But only because He will bring good from them. He will bring us to Him. He will bring us right into His arms – where we belong. God wins my battle every time.

I think of ropes often. I know it’s strange, but hear me out. I once saw a demonstration of beliefs using a rope, and it really sank in.  Again, I’m not sure who to give the credit to, but I sure will as soon as I find out. So I imagine a rope. I’m holding one end of this rope with my fist. I’m hanging on for dear life and I cannot see the end of this rope. There is no end. It goes on forever. I look toward where I believe the end of the rope should be and all I can see is that the rope continues far off into an orange and yellow sunset. It’s breathtaking; it’s a Nebraska sunset (my happy place). The rope continues far beyond my human potential allows me to see; it continues into eternity. Now I slowly begin to loosen my grip and look at this tiny part of the rope I hold in my hand. This part of the rope is my time on this Earth. It is such a tiny, insignificant piece of the rope, yet I allowed it to consume me for so long. I began learning how to loosen my grip and allow Him to control this part of my life, too. He controls my eternity, and He wants control over my time here too, but this is my time to choose Him, to show Him I want Him to have the control. He’s in charge. I only have to choose to look toward my eternity, not today.

I am choosing to consume myself now with the rest of the rope. I am choosing to understand this is my time to fight, but the fight is more than worth the reward. Eternity. The rest of the rope. 

Life can be anything but fair. We haven’t been handed an easy hand in this game. God wants us to work for it, and I get it. He knows we have a strong mission to bring others to Him whom are suffering the way we once did. He knows we are strong enough to handle it because we have Him. Every time we get knocked down, every time we are attacked by the Enemy, God brings us right back up again. Why? Because we believe in Him. We believe in the power of prayer. We ask for help. We do use God as a crutch because that is what He wants us to do. We are NOT strong enough without Him; no truer words have ever been spoken.

So when life seems so hard, seems so unfair and so impossible, I HOLD ON TO MY CROSS. Literally. I have a cross that fits so perfectly in the palm of my hand. I received it as a gift from my husband, the man God gave to me to break me. The man God knew I would love so desperately that the possibility of losing him would be enough for me to fight harder and stronger in the name of Christ than I ever believed possible.

2016-01-29_10.53.22 2016-01-29_10.54.54 It may sound simple and silly. It may sound like it’s not enough. But my God is enough. And the best part? I’m enough for Him. My fight is enough. My faith is enough. My battle is enough. I am enough for Him. Christ died for me so I could live this life, so I could use my limited time on this Earth to teach others about the truth I have learned.

My God has saved my husband time and time again. He has kept my family together time and time again. Jeremy has survived severe depression, five suicide attempts, two mental health inpatient facility stays, multiple medication failures, a near-death car accident that resulted in a leg broken in four places and repaired with metal rods, a fractured pancreas, a brain bleed, a punctured lung, a hospital stay for a month, and complete colon reconstruction that has now left him with possible colon issues for life. This past summer, Jeremy survived a heart attack at the age of 33 when we found a heart defect. Today, we were released from the hospital after a four-night stay because scar tissue left from Jeremy’s colon surgeries after his accident in 2012 built up and caused a complete bowel obstruction and severe pain. Jeremy had a tube shoved up his nose, down his esophagus, and into his stomach to drain the contents and allow his body to heal. But every single time, Jeremy has fought through it. Every single time, his faith has only grown because he has felt the strength being flooded into him from the prayers of so many we love.

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God deserves our praise. He deserves to be thanked for His sacrifice. And if all we have to do is tell our story, be honest, and be a living example of the fact that God is good even when circumstances are not in order to help others come to Him, then every single thing we have been through has been more than worth it. 

I mean, honestly. We have people tell us all the time that we are helping them grow in their faith, that they accepted help in mental illness because they have found hope in Christ because of hearing our story. How much more powerful can you get than that? How can we possibly believe this wasn’t all meant to happen for His good? We heal because we are able to see so much good happening all around us. God is providing for us too while we help others.

Now I’m not sharing our troubles to tell you yours aren’t hard. I’m sharing so you can see we all have to fight. I know your life is not any easier than ours. And it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, even lost and confused. But right now, if you’re reading this, someone is trying to get your attention. I write when God puts it on my heart. He uses me to get to you, and I will allow Him. So please see Him. Please fight in His name. Please reach out for help. You are not alone.

Jeremy has to fight his depression every single day. He has to fight his health issues (and likely will for life). But it is a heck of a lot easier to fight when you are wearing the armor of God, when you learn to hold on to the cross. And if all it takes is a cross in my hand to remind me of my purpose for fighting, then I will carry that cross with me everywhere for the rest of my life on this Earth.

Hold on to the cross. Hold on for dear life. Cling to Him.
He will bring you through this.

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Click here to follow our daily journey on Facebook at Jeremy & Bailey Koch.

Click here to learn more about our story and link to our website, www.jeremyandbailey.com, to purchase our book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith”, either in eBook format on Amazon or directly from us in paperback.

Click here to learn about our support group for those suffering with mental illness, supporting a loved one, or suffering from the loss of a loved one to suicide. Our support group meets Monday evenings in Cozad, Nebraska.

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