“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:8-11).

Luci Shaw writes, “The unexpected is always lurking around the bend. Most of us will undergo difficulties or distresses that bring us to our knees, overcome by despair or profound doubt. After my husband died, I was in a place like that.”

She found comfort in scripture that encouraged her to embrace her new challenges, including Isaiah 54:2-5: “Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home …for you will soon be bursting at the seams…You will no longer remember …the sorrows of your widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband.” It took about eighteen months for the paralysis of grief and mourning to start lifting for Luci.

When we are hit hard by the heavy events of life, we naturally grieve and find that adjusting takes lots of both time and faith. Challenges we never anticipated loom large, and sometimes we feel disoriented. The ways we previously coped no longer apply.

Shaw was determined to approach life as a continuing adventure. She claimed the promise of Psalm 16:11, that God would reveal the path of life and bring her joy. “Surviving boldly in a complex world takes getting used to,” she writes, “but I can never complain that its dull. Painful or challenging experiences and passages confirm life’s verity, the solidity and surprise of it all in God, despite its traps and pitfalls, its scares and sorrows.” We’d love to avoid the pitfalls and sorrows, but we can’t. Troubles are part of any adventure and in life itself. The challenge is in how we will face our realities. Luci ramps up the challenge: “We need God to confound us with a mission larger than we are.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement