By Gary Sorg
What are you going “through” right now?
It’s often said art imitates life. The Doors’, a popular rock band from the 1960’s, opening track on their first album is titled “Break on Through (to the Other Side)”. Some of the song’s lyrics might not be the clearest, but the chorus –
“Break on through to the other side”
repeated over and over- strikes a chord with listeners. And although it may hold a variety of meanings for different people, it universally represents a call to action.
Country singer Rodney Atkins’ song “If You’re Going Through Hell” strikes a similar chord in the chorus,
“If you’re going through hell
Keep on moving, face that fire
Walk right through it
You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there”
These lyrics certainly speak to the need to stay the course in difficult times.
The popular Christian song “Way Maker” by Nigerian Gospel singer Sinach sends a similar message of hope in tough times,
“You are Way maker,
miracle worker, promise keeper
Light in the darkness, my God
That is who You are”
And finishes with,
“Oh, His name is above,
His name is above depression
His name is above loneliness
His name is above disease
His name is above cancer
His name is above every other name, listen, listen”
With every word, Sinach declares God’s strength to cope with a list of human frailties, if we will take the action of “listening” to that still small voice.
Let’s also consider Tim Mc Graw’s 2004 hit Country song“Live Like You Were Dying” where he voices a man’s reaction to a terminal diagnosis,
“I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
When a moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days
Looking at the x-rays
And talkin’ ’bout the options
And talkin’ ’bout sweet time”
I asked him,
“When it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit you
When you get that kind of news?
Man, what’d you do?”
And he said,
“I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said,
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”
From rock, country, and gospel, music offers a common and often timeless message of encouragement and the call to move forward, pushing us – the listeners – to believe there is more we can do if we choose to accept its call to action.
Viktor Frankl, a Jewish-Austrian psychiatrist who survived Hitler’s death camps during World War II, attributes his survival to – once again – choosing to take action. Frankl explains in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, that he had no control over what his keepers did to his body, but they could not control his mind. He credits this singular power left only to him for saving his life.
It is this principle that is at the center of my new book.
I Don’t Have Cancer When I’m Sleeping: Living and Dying with Cancer provides context, help, and hope to those going through this journey. It focuses on one woman’s experience with cancer, including her backstory, diagnosis, treatment, healing, and the emotional impact it had on her life and those around her.
After her initial treatment, my wife experienced nine years cancer-free, but then it came back with a vengeance. Living five more years with a terminal diagnosis, she coped with work, treatments, life, and finally, the hospice experience. All of this was then followed by my personal challenges as a surviving spouse.
My favorite bit of scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5, verses 16-18 which reads,
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
These three short verses exemplify how we can ‘choose’ to live with both action and perseverance.
Yes, hardships are a part of life. But hardships can be survived. We may not always make perfect decisions or be the perfect Christians, but there is no shame in being human. Life goes on in spite of disappointment, grief and trials of many kinds. We summon the strength to persevere. Remember, there is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.
May we fully enjoy the days God has given us and be encouraged to keep on breaking through to the other side.