What do Buddy the Elf standing on a bridge in New York, Queen Esther’s “If I perish, I perish” speech, and my five-year-old at the dinner table have in common?

The whiff of death.

It’s a powerful element of good storytelling, and you can spot it in many-a-Hollywood film these days. 

A goldfish, belly-up in a bowl just before the main character has to face his greatest foe. 

A flower, wilted before being delivered to the intended recipient. 

The whiff of death reminds us that the stakes are high and things might not go the way we were hoping.

Funny thing is, I think we’re sometimes more likely to pull this element into our own stories than we realize.

At the dinner table last week, an ahem older sibling requested a little extra of a tasty little cajun spice mix on his chicken. I love the stuff, but it makes me sneeze every time I cook with it.

I sprinkle, I sneeze. Repeat.

The sibling joked about taking a big, deep whiff of the stuff, but instead took a gentle little sniff to see if he’d sneeze. The five-year-old wanted a turn, and before the rest of us realized what was happening, she’d listened to the older sibling’s suggestion to take a big, deep whiff of the spice.

And then?

There were many, many tears.

Apparently inhaling a really big whiff of a spicy spice mixture really stings, causes the eyes to tear, and burns like the dickens. The whiff of spice quickly turned into the whiff of death and despair, as the weeping little one at the table declared between sobs:

“I guess I am going to feel like this forever!”

With a tissue and a hug, I encouraged her that those tears were doing exactly what they needed to. The tears were busy cleaning out her sinuses, and before too long, it would be okay… all would be well. 

But I marveled at how quickly her little mind went to the foregone conclusion, “It’s going to be this way forever,” – and then I wondered how often my mind follows that well-worn path, too.

I can remember the earliest days of being a mother of three – with little ones whose ages seemed so close together, laundry that seemed never ending, diapers that always needed changing. The sense of feeling so very, very needed seemed so overwhelming – and it was  hard to believe all the well-meaning ladies in the grocery store who warned me the time would fly and I should enjoy every minute. 

The grief after losing a loved one (at least in my experience with my Dad) was so full of despair. I felt abandoned to wonder, “Will I get through this and ever truly feel happy again?”

Life can feel really hard. And the whiff of despair can come really easily.

Darling friend, is there anything you’re facing these days that has you convinced “It’s gonna be like this forever?” 

Can I encourage you that it’s not? God’s goodness is absolutely unstoppable. And while you may not fully understand why you are facing the hard things you’re facing on this side of eternity, you can be sure that change is coming. It always, always does.

I wonder sometimes if we seem like the five-year-old crying at the dinner table to our Father. We’re hurting and, most of all, we’re afraid the pain isn’t going to stop – that this thing is forever.

I imagine Him coming near to you and me with a tissue and a hug, saying, “Those tears are doing exactly what they need to right now, my darling. Let them flow. Let it out. I promise, I promise, I promise: it won’t be like this forever.”

P.S. I have a question for you! I’m working on a Bible study, similar to the 30 Days Deeper study many of you enjoyed a few years ago. Would you rather have a printable workbook to work through, or emails delivered to your inbox? Or a workbook that corresponds with daily emails? I’d be so grateful if you’d let me know your thoughts! You can find me on Facebook or Instagram at the links below, or use the contact form on this page!

P.P.S. The meal planner is still around if you want to grab it and get step-by-step meal planning instructions and recipe favorites! Just click the link below to grab it!

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for your love and support!