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Getting Through It

by Adrienne Vernon

Hereís how I survived hard times with Godís help.

    My cell phone vibrated on the desk in my dorm room at Southern Adventist University. I glanced at the clock. Ten o’clock in the morning didn’t usually bring me many callers.
    I stopped typing the speech I was preparing for my summer class and glanced over at my phone. I half expected to see my best friend’s name, instead I saw an unfamiliar number. Puzzled, I grabbed my phone.
    “Adrienne? This is Denine.”
    It was my uncle’s girlfriend.
    “It’s your Uncle Ricky,” she said, trying to explain the reason for her call.   “There’s been an accident.”
    Fear gripped my chest. Just listen, I told myself. He works in construction; he probably just broke his leg.
    “Yeah?” my tense voice sounded shrill to my own ears.
    “He had an accident at work and is in critical condition. I can’t get a hold of your mom. Is there any way you can reach her?”
    Dazed, I assured Denine that I’d try to call my mom. Then we hung up.
Immediately I dialed Mom’s cell phone number and then our home phone number. For hours I didn’t get an answer. I constantly prayed, God, please let   Uncle Ricky be OK.
    By the time 12:30 p.m. rolled around, it was almost time for class and my stomach felt twisted. Two hours had passed and no one had called me back to give me an update on my uncle’s condition.
    A friend of mine talked me into attempting to eat lunch, so I reluctantly trailed him to the cafeteria. As I slouched in the chair, pushing my salad around my plate, my cell phone rang. Immediately I jumped up and answered it.
    While we talked I paced back and forth in a quiet area of the cafeteria.
    Mom’s reply came through muffled tears. “He . . . he fell. He’s . . . dead,” Mom whispered.
    I felt numb. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t think. I sprinted out of the cafeteria, dropped in the corner of the stairwell, and sobbed.
    My mind grappled with one question, Why, God?

More bad news
    That’s how my first semester of college started. I knew transitioning from academy to college was going to be difficult. But the things that happened during the following five months made it harder than I ever could have imagined.
    In early September, a few weeks after my uncle passed away, I received another phone call. Doctors had diagnosed my stepgrandmother with lung cancer, and it had already metastasized to her brain. The doctors expected her to live two to three months. She died three weeks later.
    Early November arrived and my four-and-a-half year relationship with my boyfriend abruptly ended. Then the stinging pain was compounded with more sad news.
    A week later I received another phone call from my mom. My childhood best friend’s father had died unexpectedly, and their family is like a second family to me.
    So much pain! By this time I felt numb—I’d even lost the ability to cry.
    The dreaded week before finals arrived. Though I should’ve poured my energy into studying, yet another phone call placed my life on hold. It was   Mom again.
    I concentrated, trying to read her voice. “Yeah?”
    “I’m pregnant!”
    “What?” I gasped. “That’s . . . weird.” I knew she’d wanted another baby, but having a sibling almost 20 years younger than me seemed a little strange.
    Then Mom explained, “When the doctor checked the baby, he found something.”
    “Something?” My stomach tightened and  nausea brewed.
    “Adrienne, the doctor said I have cervical cancer.”
    When I got off the phone with Mom, I felt an odd sensation—one I hadn’t experienced since my uncle passed away. Tears welled up in my eyes as one single drop crawled down my cheek. Then they all broke loose, releasing my pent-up tension that had been building since August.
    God brought me through those five hard months, and during them He taught me a few priceless lessons about trials and overcoming them. I want to share them with you.
    God doesn’t cause bad things to happen. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). And James 1:17 says: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” As you get to know God, you’ll find that He doesn’t cause or want bad things to happen to you. Bad things happen because we live in a sinful world. Yet we have hope— Jesus will come again and rescue us from the suffering in this world.
    In the meantime, pain is a natural part of life on this earth. Though you may not be able to stop the pain, God offers His peace. Isaiah 26:3 says of God:    “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”
    A personal relationship with God is vital. People around you may leave you or die, or a boyfriend/girlfriend may break your heart, but God promises His constant companionship. Isaiah 49:15 says: “Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you” (NKJV).*
    During those difficult months of my life, my relationship with God sustained me. Sometimes I went back to my room during my lunch break to read my Bible and pray. Doing this carried me through many days. Even though I felt unsure of the future, I knew God would never fail me.
    As for building a relationship with God, it  takes time. Time is the key to building any relationship. You’re not best friends with someone after spending five minutes—or even a day—with them. It’s a gradual thing.
    You must spend time with God by reading the Bible and thinking about what you read as you try to grasp its true meaning. You also spend time with God by praying to Him, but don’t do all the talking. Ask God to speak to you, then listen to Him. What He says may surprise you.
    It’s OK to ask for help. God has placed people in your life that want to listen and help you through bad times, such as Christian teachers and adults.
    When my uncle died, my speech professor not only consoled me, but gave me plenty of time to make up the work I missed in her class. Countless church members offered support as well.
    Pastors and Christian counselors can give you a listening ear and great advice. After I found out that my mom had cancer, I told my boss. She suggested that I talk to one of the on-campus counselors at Southern

Adventist University.
    I hesitated at first but agreed to make at least one appointment, and I’m glad I did. During the appointments my counselor spent a lot of time with me and helped me work through the issues I faced.
    Claim God’s promises. They’re all over the pages of the Bible! These promises give you hope when your world seems to be falling apart. When you pray, claim God’s promises. Psalm 145:18 says: “The Lord is near to all who call on him.”
    While grieving the loss of my uncle, schoolwork that normally would’ve been very easy for me became difficult. I always felt tired and couldn’t concentrate. When I prayed and claimed God’s promises, God   lifted a burden off me.
    I found that the book of Isaiah has a wealth of promises. I also read a Bible promise book that was arranged by topic. That little book made it easy for me to find a promise that I could relate to in any situation. (You can buy one at an Adventist Book Center or other Christian bookstore.)
    Don’t give up. God has a plan for your life! Isaiah 42:6 says: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.” He has called you, and He will help you fulfill your calling.
    When my uncle died, when my relationship with my boyfriend ended, when my mom found out she had cancer, I could’ve given up on God. I could’ve thrown religion out of my life. But I didn’t, and now I’m stronger. I’m not only a stronger person, I’m stronger in Christ.
    Bad things may knock you down, but don’t let them keep you down. Take God’s hand and “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [you] heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Adrienne Vernon is a junior at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, where she’s majoring in public relations, print journalism, and religious studies. In her free time she plays her guitar, writes stories, and spends time with her family and friends. Her home is in Adairsville, Georgia.

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