As another year swiftly passes, it gathers in is wake a great number of triumphs and trials. All of which can, of course, be dealt with in a positive or negative manner. Certainly, the triumphs are easy for us to endure, but the trials are a different story. Being human, it is natural to celebrate the triumphs over the trials. We all feel good when good things happen or when we witness good things happening to our friends and family, but for the trials, not so much. The weight of trials often bring us down. But the fact is, real character is measured by our response to the trials of life.
John Adams—one of America’s greatest Founding Fathers—said of such trials, “People and nations are forged by the fire of adversity.” Pivotal to this statement are the terms, “forged in the fire.” Our lives are constantly being put to the flames of trial for the purpose of being forged or shaped with an eternal purpose; in other words, to exit the forge as a different or changed person. Mr. Adams knew that, as humans, we cannot escape that forge and the fires (or trials) that seek to change us. As previously stated, what matters is how we react to those times.
So what allows us to make it through or react to the trials in a positive way? To answer, let’s think about the word, “encouragement.” By definition, to encourage means, “The action of giving someone support, confidence or hope; to persuade to do or to continue something; the act of trying to stimulate the development of an activity, state or belief.” In other words, encouragement helps us face the flames of trials. The fact of the matter is we cannot live without the stabilizing influence of human encouragement; without this important ingredient, the fires of the forge of life—of which Mr. Adams spoke—would destroy us. In fact, the Father of our nation, George Washington, reminded his fellow countrymen of a Divine source of encouragement when he said, “Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Supreme Being in whose hands victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble action.” Mr. Washington also realized the importance of encouragement that eventually resulted in victory.
As we think about the triumphs and trials of 2018, as always, the triumphs far out number the trials. Even still, it is natural for us to dwell on trials, allowing triumphs to be eclipsed. One such trial to the extreme was the passing of one of CHF’s founders, Beth Flick. On July 23 of this year, she was tragically taken from us in an auto accident in Virginia. While traveling home, headed south 0n I-81, from a visit with family, Dr. Steve and Beth had exited the Interstate for a time of rest. Upon re-entering the highway, on a cloverleaf style on-ramp, their car suddenly ran across a wet section of pavement and spun into the path of a southbound semi-truck, which hit them in the passenger door, critically injuring both Dr. Steve and Beth. Dr. Steve and Beth were both transported to the trauma unit at a hospital in nearby Roanoke. Within minutes of arriving, Beth passed away and Dr. Steve began treatment for his injuries. In the midst of a very difficult time, those of us who traveled to the hospital became very close to the staff members who were very caring and sensitive to Dr. Steve’s injuries.
On July 27—after nearly a five-day stay in the emergency room and trauma unit—we caravaned home to Clinton, Tennessee. One important point that would prove to be a great blessing was the fact that Beth would be on her way home to be prepared for the funeral and interment. “Sudden,” “tragic” and “devastating” are the words we have all used to describe the pain of that loss. In the midst of that loss, we have all sought to be an encouragement to Dr. Steve as he continues on. Herein we only need to look to Beth herself for instructions on encouraging others. That is who she was; that is what she was, and that is who and what she wanted all of us to be as well.
Going through a few old emails the other night, I came across one from Beth dated August 30, 2015. The context of that email focused on the fact that on Wednesday of that week, she would face her first chemo treatment for breast cancer. She was afraid of it and her friends knew she needed encouraging herself as they told her “…if there’s ever anything you need.” Here is what followed from Beth, “I will be very honest with my friends at this point. In the weeks to come, if anyone ever wants to do something for me, it would help the most by giving a small donation to CHF.” Even while facing her own trial, her own forge and her own fire, Beth focused on encouraging others and helping what she loved, which was to glorify her Lord through the ministry of CHF. If there was ever a lesson personified on encouragement, it was Beth Flick.
I call upon you all to be an encouragement to someone else. As life goes flying by we all need it, we all want it and we all must have it in order to emerge from the forge as changed people that continue on in the midst of trials. If you don’t know how, just look to the example left us by Beth Flick. Or, look to the Prophet Isaiah as he said, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary and the young men shall utterly fall, but those that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 28-31
We need each other like never before, so let’s honor Beth by encouraging each other as she did others every day!
For Further Consideration
On a chilly Tuesday morning, December 11, 2018 with frost covering the ground, many of Beth’s coworkers along with friends and Dr. Steve, gathered in the yard of ORAU (Oak Ridge Associated Universities) to dedicate a tree that had been planted to honor the memory of Beth Flick. Also joining us by way of Zoom video stream, were several of Beth’s family members. We all watched as Dr. Steve was presented a plaque that will be placed at theRead more...
A number of months ago while using a book that had been gifted to me from my Grandma Flick's personal library, I found a small handwritten note: "When my husband passed away, I sought the Lord and through my family and friends, He helped me." Soon after my discovery I gave it to my dad, knowing he would appreciate this sentimental find. I had forgotten about that little note until just a few days ago, when my dad pulled the same note out of his BRead more...
One of the favorite places Beth and I used to sit and share in each other's lives was the swing on our front porch. Handcrafted by Amish Dutch in western Pennsylvania years ago, it was brought to our home by Mom Flick when she came to live with us in Mississippi following her diagnosis of terminal liver cancer in 1998. But since this past summer, that porch swing which has been a silent observer of so much of our family's history is now—for theRead more...