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In my profession, I work with people making their way through the circumstances of life. They are mostly, in my experience, good people, even honorable people, and very often people I come to respect greatly for the persistent work they have done in the making of their way in life. But, they also, without exception, are hurt people.

Hurts come

  • from others,
  • from the self,
  • from pervasive, systematic evil, and
  • from sources we will never be able to name.

The hurts come

  • by accident,
  • through ignorance,
  • in carelessness,
  • out of malice,
  • as an artifact of growth,
  • from profoundly inaccurate mental images of basic things such as the self, the world, God and how He works

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Hardship may come upon us for many reasons.

Job 5:6-8 (New International Version)

For hardship does not spring from the soil,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground.

Yet man is born to trouble
as surely as sparks fly upward.

We may bring hardship on ourselves through our mistakes or our own sin. Hardship may be brought to us by others or through the impersonal presence of evil in the world. God may use the megaphone of pain to get our attention.

There is one thing all hardship has in common.

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It’s possible that being alone is not just our greatest fear but our only fear.

It could be the active ingredient in our fear of death. It could be the element we empathically resonate with when we fear something happening to our children. Even our fear of rejection seems not so much about the rejection as it is about the imagined result of the rejection – being alone.

Our fear of harm, pain, suffering, damage… these may all be connected to the imagined end product – being alone.

I understand that aloneness is the active ingredient in Hell. Hell is the only place where our fear of being alone can finally come true, making it terrifying beyond anything we have ever felt.

I’ve often told people, “First relax. First don’t be afraid.” But that may not go far enough up stream. Must we deal first with the fear of being alone before we can deal with any fear or anxiety in the general sense?

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We don’t get very far down the road of life without hitting disappointments. Some are like a bug on the windshield, some like potholes, some like a bridge out, and some like being blind-sided.

As children we may first suspect our disappointment is our parents’ fault when we can’t have that sleepover at Jimmy’s. Or, it’s our sister’s fault that we felt such disappointment when “she ate all the Captain Crunch. ” Maybe there was a time when we felt like Santa was the source of our biggest disappointment. To many children, of course, for these to be their only disappointments would be a dream come true.

As we move out of childhood, we are faced with proms, interviews, tryouts, auditions. We have little, everyday hopes about green traffic lights, details working out in our favor, work and school assignments, weather. We have secret hopes about relationships, acceptance, recognition. We have private hopes about marriage, pregnancy, finances, job changes. We have public hopes about recovery, healing, success in ministry or business, college admission. We even have some hopes that are so large and close to the heart that we have never had the courage to say them to ourselves.

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