Escalator ride

Because we live in a world broken by sin, we will face difficulties (trials) and we may even experience real tragedy. We may face situations that shake our very foundation. As Christians, we may feel called to smile through the pain while simultaneously grappling with the turmoil inside. Pain in the presence of tragedy is natural. In his letter to the church at Phillipi, Paul writes (Philippians 2:27):

For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.

Paul was clearly living within the will of God. However, he understood that if his friend had died, he would have experienced “sorrow upon sorrow”. The process of dealing with this deep pain and healing reminds me of an escalator ride.

First, getting on the escalator can be a scary adventure. Have you ever watched a child step onto the escalator for the first time? Sometimes that first step can be too scary and he may need a helping hand to raise him up. Once on the escalator, however, you move under a separate power. You are free to simply stand there. However, you may also choose to climb the escalator stairs. Now you make additional progress. Of course it is also possible to walk down the escalator stairs, against the upward motion. You will still be on the escalator, but will now be losing progress. No matter; eventually the escalator will still get you to the top.

The similarity to the grief process is clear. Sometimes it can be difficult to simply ask God for help; that first step requires that we choose to rely on a strength other than our own. However, we have a loving Father who desires to lift us up. After joining God on His escalator, we may make great progress in navigating the pain on good days and we climb those stairs together with God. On bad days, we are free to just stand still and let God do all the work. Even if we do retreat, we are still on the escalator. God is still there. He will stand with us. He will never leave us.

Take comfort in your Father. He loves you so much and He cares about your pain.

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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