“Coping, An Endless Task”

          Presenter: Dick Stetler – September 2021


    Most people have realized that the only aspect of life that remains a constant in the physical world is change.  Change communicates that nothing can absolutely be counted on to remain the same.  Every generation has had to cope with change since the dawn of civilization. 

    One of the purposes of entering our world is to learn how to let go of our experiences gracefully and peacefully regardless of how filled they are with joy or sorrow.  Most people have failed to assist others by teaching how to accomplish that developmental task.

    Marriages that were gloriously celebrated often do not last more than a handful of years.  Children grow up and depart the security of their families as each one leaves the nest to find their way in the world.  Our perfect jobs become boring.  Too many business trips can make us strangers to our families.  Our cute, darling children can become disobedient and rude teenagers as they search for their own identities.  We quickly learn that happiness and fulfillment are not entitlements. 

    A major question for us is, “How do we cope with change?”  Our Creator has baked the ingredient of change into our cake.  What was this powerful entity of loving energy pointing to by doing so?  A timeless answer came from Jesus who had figured out a solution for the infinite changes that everyone experiences.  He said:

Do not save riches for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust destroy, and where robbers can break in and steal.  Instead, save up riches for yourselves in Heaven where nothing can ever bother them.  These treasures will remain yours forever.  Your heart will always be where your riches are.  (Matthew 6:19f)

    What frequently hides Jesus’ words from countless people is that they associate Jesus with Christianity.  That belief is misguided.  Jesus remained a Jew until he died. He knew nothing about Christianity. The truth of his teachings is universal.  For Jesus, Heaven was not a destination when people die.  Heaven was an adjective that described matters of the heart, i.e., our responses to change coming from circumstances during our lifetime over which we have no control.  

    Think of how many families would be spared from shattering if the spirit of forgiveness was introduced.  A woman in my past confided that her husband had an appetite for seducing women.  She said:

During our marriage, he has managed to become intimate with 23 women so far.  He tells me all about his affairs.  Of course, having sex with him has long since died between us once he started doing this. I thought of him as a dangerous carrier of possible STDs and gave a lot of thought of leaving him.  Yet, in many other ways, he is an ideal husband. 

He comes home every night. He is a top government official in his agency and earns a wonderful salary that he generously shares with us. He has been a wonderful, loving husband to me and a loving dad to our daughter.  I have stopped thinking about his one defect in character and feel grateful that I have him as a husband.  I could have done a lot worse in my choice of men.  Forgiveness has been a simple solution.

    How did Beverly acquire the skill of forgiving seventy times seven as Jesus taught?    She confided that what her husband was doing was sexually stimulating himself. He was using women for pleasure. She indicated that her main problem was dealing with hurt and she questioned herself as to why she was not enough for him.  Overcoming her hurt feelings and her thinking that his straying might be her fault, she tried forgiveness. By repeatedly forgiving him, she grew stronger.  She said:

There is great power for living by developing forgiveness as a skill.  I never thought of it that way.  My husband has helped me to find and use this skill that has become useful in every area of life.  No one will ever know the power of forgiveness until they begin loving people just as they find them.  Doing this did get easier when I realized that I was allowing other people to grow up at their own pace.  If I can cope with my husband who has strayed many times, there isn’t much in life that can hurt me.

    What has Beverly accomplished?  Many would say that she has become a doormat, or a woman who cannot stand up for herself.  They would be correct according to their values. However, she has done something far more profound.  She has learned to understand her husband as a personal trainer, one who has helped her to learn a skill that very few people have mastered.  Not only could she cope with her husband’s straying but she learned how not to be offended by his actions.  She merely took steps to keep her health safe.

    Think about this!  What emotional price are we willing to pay in order to cope with everything that life will place in our path like successes, failures, and losses. Several years ago, she died. She loved her husband in spite of his neediness to act out his fantasies. 

    Think of Solomon, the King of the Jews who collected wisdom from every corner of the civilized cultures.  He enjoyed 700 wives and 300 mistresses, yet happiness escaped him.  Sex was not the answer.  Wealth was not the answer. Having a military, that was superior to all other known nations, was not the answer.  Being respected by countless kings and queens was not the answer. 

    A careful read of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, thought to be a personal diary of Solomon, will communicate what tormented him.  He never found the skill of coping with life.  He was living in the material world and never learned about another world that Jesus would introduce some fourteen centuries later. He was using countless skills within himself without realizing that all of them were coming from his inner world.  He needed to connect the dots.

    The loving-energy of being able to instantly let go of emotional attachments to everything in the material world, e.g., success, failure, and deep sorrows, will remain a coping skill that many will never find.  (Matthew 7:13f)

    Our Creator would never have allowed us to come into our limited forms without also giving us every tool that we need to succeed spiritually in the material world.  The only responsibility we have is to seek until we find then repeatedly use those tools. 

    Truly Beverly had found the pearl of great price and the hidden treasure buried in the field.  Jesus gave voice to this treasure after being crucified and was dying nailed to a cross.  (Luke 23:34) Indeed, he had conquered the world by just being who he was. He knew how to forgive seventy times seven. So can we when our spirits are firmly anchored in skills that we can use when we leave this world.