Bend or Break?3 min read

Storms come. It’s a fact. They come with the weather. They also come to us individually, to our families, and to our communities. They take many forms: a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer or Alzheimer’s, death of a family member, or a house fire. The fires in Maui and California have devastated whole communities. Did they bend or break?

We think of the church as the constant, stabilizing factor in these storms of life. But what happens when the church experiences a storm? Maybe the longtime pastor retires or accepts a call elsewhere… It’s enough to shake a congregation to the core. But what about the congregation whose pastor has a heart attack or accident requiring a lengthy recovery? How about watching the pastor slip into dementia? What happens then? Do they bend or break?

Any of these events is enough to break a person or congregation. Many of us have seen it happen. But we have also seen where they have bent under the load but not broken. Some call them strong-willed. But are they really? What gives them the strength to continue and come back with a stronger faith than before? In trees, it is the long inner cells which form fibers that run the length of the tree. Fibers which stick together and are hard to separate. Think about splitting freshly cut oak—that’s what a 5-ton splitter is for!

The fibers that make up an individual’s spiritual and emotional life are faith in God and help from family and friends. Faith in God is strengthened by immersion in His Word, singing or listening to hymns, and worshiping and partaking of Holy Communion with others. The storms of life wear one down physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The load can be very heavy. Will they bend or break?

As fellow believers, we can share “one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). It’s nice to say we are praying for someone; but, when possible, we need to put hands and feet to our prayers by offering food, transportation, running errands, or respite care. Remember: the caregiver may not ask for help although it is desperately needed.

Scriptures we often rely on are Psalm 23 and John 10. But what about handwriting one of your favorite verses in a card? Maybe you are not into sending cards. What about sending a text with a verse—not just the reference but the whole verse? One of my favorite verses is Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Depending upon the translation you use, this verse has a different promise for every day of the week. What other verses of promise do you know? They will help someone bend and not break.

Corrie Ten Boom, who survived a Nazi concentration camp, bent rather than broke. She said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

This article was originally posted in The Deacon’s Beacon newsletter, February issue.

For more information about the Ministry Assistant Program and other ways of becoming a lay leader through the Michigan School of Missional Formation, visit

Photos courtesy of Jewel Richardson

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About the Author

Mrs. Jewel Richardson serves as Ministry Assistant at Beautiful Savior, Wellston

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