Survivor’s Guilt

Survivor’s guilt…is a yucky feeling.

The last time I battled it was after the devastating flood in South Carolina in the fall of 2015. Columbia, my home, and much of our state was devastated. In our community people with whom we have done life for over 30 years lost everything while our home, cars, etc. remained untouched.

I can remember cleaning, volunteering and walking through the streets of neighborhoods with people’s belongings strewn all about the streets…from mattresses to dolls to pianos sitting in yards….roofs caving in…boats washed into people’s front doors. When I would go home for the night, I felt guilty that I still had my home. I had a very hard time sleeping for months after the flood.

Recently…since Brewer’s stroke…the enemy has been attacking me with “survivor’s guilt.” I have received many inboxes, emails and texts from people who had family members experience the same thing as Brewer but didn’t survive. Satan has been “genius” at tempting me with “survivor’s guilt” in the Back 9 of my life.

Just weeks ago, my sister buried her best friend, Chrissy, who left behind two young sons and a husband. She and her family were our friends too. We have had two next door neighbors, one on either side, lose their spouses suddenly. In just the past couple of years, my college roommate and neighbor lost their young adult son suddenly. And, one of my very best friends from college lost her husband within a year of a very sudden diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

I am very thankful we did not lose Brewer, so thankful….but I cannot tell you why Brewer survived and so many others didn’t. I have no idea…other than: “if you are not dead, God is not done.” I do believe that with all my heart.

Thank goodness I have learned and want to share with readers today that “guilt,” no matter how it comes on you, is not healthy and it is from the enemy!

Yes, it is from the “pit of hell.” God is not a God who sends guilt. God sends conviction to our hearts for sin, but very often we confuse the two–Guilt and Conviction.

Satan loves to put us in the quicksand of guilt. It keeps us stuck, a place where he loves for all of us to reside. So I have learned to battle those “arrows of guilt” that are hurled my way. I cannot pretend to wrap my mind around God’s Plan, but I do believe what the prophet Isaiah says in the scripture found in Isaiah 55:8-9, ”’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth. so are my ways higher than the earth. So are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” I/you/we cannot pretend to understand God’s BIG plan. We have to TRUST even when the road is difficult.

I have learned from so many others who have gone before me in suffering great loss to TRUST GOD in the trials and life storms.

Learning to Trust God no matter what is NOT EASY but is NECESSARY if you desire to live a “surrendered and significant” life for Christ. I do know for sure that life’s trials are intended to mature and complete us and we are to consider it PURE JOY. James 1:2-4, “Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of MANY KINDS, BECAUSE you know that the TESTING of YOUR FAITH produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that YOU may be MATURE and COMPLETE, not lacking in anything” [emphasis added].

NO matter what we face…God uses it all. God is sovereign. He doesn’t desire for us to lack spiritual gifts. We have to TRUST Him and realize that I/you/we may never know the WHY’s while on this earth.

It is a choice to TRUST GOD in all things. We don’t always have to like it and we can be sad and grieve. This is normal. We are human. But when it is all said and done, we are not immune, none of us, from disease, death and suffering, even if it is the result of someone else’s sin. Remember God had a perfect plan, but sinful man brought death and decay, and I/you/ we are all that “man.”

I encourage you today…to understand God is God and we are not. Leaning into Him, even when we don’t understand, even if our heart is breaking…that is truly where we find refuge.

We may not get all our answers on this side of heaven. God doesn’t mind if we ask. We must understand that we may not get the answer to the “why” but we will be comforted and given peace. Learn to rebuke the enemy when you feel “guilt” or cannot change circumstances for yourself or others. Pray for yourself and others to run to God, not from Him, for He is our true Refuge.

“We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” ~Charles R. Swindoll

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  • Sherri, your messages are always spot-on and I have been blessed the Lord led me to your blog! Thank you for your words of encouragement and strength…they TRULY make a difference in my day!! May God bless you and your family.