Problem: After being married for seven years, my husband left me and our two children to begin a relationship with my best friend. Now that I’m alone, I find it hard to cope with everyday life.
Advice: This is a dust-yourself-down-and-rise, like the proverbial phoenix, situation. You didn’t put yourself in this unenviable position, but you’re the only person who can dig yourself out of it.
To be fair, most of the practical advice given to this person struggling since being abandoned by her partner isn’t bad. But the tone of “only you can dig yourself out” feels like a crushing weight. Does the person who can’t cope just need to convince themselves that they can? What if they really can’t?
The good news about Jesus is that he can cope when we can’t. We are weak but He is strong. If the person writing this letter turns to him she’ll find someone who not only knows what it is to be betrayed, but who will never leave or betray her. She will find someone who doesn’t tell her to sort herself out but who says "I will give you rest".
I need a crutchI’ve never understood the insult against Christianity that describes it as a crutch for the weak - what if you are weak? Don’t you need a crutch if you’ve got a broken leg? Limping around claiming to have risen like a Phoenix is not going to be a long term solution.
Someone climbed down
Advice about how to climb out of the pit you are in may be good or bad, but it’s useless if you can’t do it. Fortunately, the gospel tells us that someone climb down into the pit to pull us out.
"A man fell into into a dark and slimy pit. Try as he might, it was impossible to pull himself out. One day Confusius himself came past the pit and said: 'Poor man, if only he'd listened to me, he'd never have fallen into the pit in the first place.' Some time later the Buddha came past. Looking down at the man he said: 'Poor man. Just come up here and I'll help you.' And he walked on. And then Jesus Christ walked past and he said, 'Poor man.' And He jumped into the pit and lifted him out."
(Attributed to Hudson Taylor)