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Thursday, February 17, 2011

They Don't Call Them Hard Decisions for Nothing

It seems that everyone who doesn't have to make hard decisions can make them easily. People who don't worry about their political careers recommend a cut to social security and medicare. People who have nothing to lose will say that education or health care must be cut. Hard decisions are much easier when you don't have to pay for them.

I often sit with families who have to make hard decisions. They come to me for advice. I try to remember that I can flippantly say things which I will never pay for. I try to put myself in their place. These decisions are things like: "Do we continue the life of our loved one artificially or do we withdraw life support and allow him or her to die?" and "How long should I put up with a husband who has had multiple affairs?" and "Should we try to adopt or accept a childless marriage as our fate?" Each of these are hard decisions in which no answer is clearly right or wrong. Each decision has tremendous consequences.

The people are struggling. I do my best to struggle with them. I decide to get in the boat they are sailing. I decide to become part of the process. I decide to support their decisions no matter what it is. There is no clear biblical answer to their decisions.

Of course, each of these people who come to me is hoping that I will be able to give some spiritual, biblical answer to their dilemma. They are hoping that I can explain this decision in such a logical, spiritual way that the decision is made for them. I can't. I often see both sides of each situation. Keeping someone alive artificially for a time may do more than prolong his life for a few days. It may allow the body to heal. Taking the wayward husband back one more time may be the last time it needs to be done. Having no children can allow a couple to volunteer more for mission trips or do other church related activities.

I try to always pray with the people who come to me. I believe there is something that God would have them do. I pray that He will reveal what that is.

I know God loves those who are making these hard decisions and wants them to be comforted. God may be using me to be His ambassador of comfort. I do my best to let them know that God is walking with them through their decision.

And hard decision can be second-guessed. This is the real difficulty in making hard decisions. The first day the decision is self-evident. The next day it is very ambivalent. The third day the opposite decision is self-evident. I try to help people do what they think is right without making the decision for them. I try to counsel them through wavering back and forth.

Let's get this straight: Hard decisions have grave consequences. Eventually everyone has to make some hard decisions. Hard decisions do not have a clear right or wrong, yet a decision still must be made. Prayer is necessary to make the decision even though there may not be a definitive answer which comes from praying. Praying brings God into the equation. He can be asked to stop a bad decision as easily as He can be asked for direction in making a right decision. Support is the greatest need for those who make hard decisions.

The Apostle Paul made a hard decision on going to Rome. He wanted to spread the gospel. The journey was equally important to the arrival in Rome. People begged him not to go. They had already heard from God. The consequences were great. Paul had made his decision. He had already decided he would die for the Lord if necessary. All supported him in the end. That's what has to happen in hard decisions.

Acts 21:10-14 (NIV)
10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'" 12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done."

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