It’s Gonna Be Okay

Dear Anonymous,

You wrote me a letter. I know you’re going through a hard time. You emailed me from a hospital room, and I know that you’re about to crack from stress.

I don’t know how to respond. I wish I did. I know you want me to say something like: “It’s going to be okay.” But how can I say that?

Your daughter is dying in the ICU. Your life is upside down. You need real comfort. But alas, I am just a guy who maintained a 1.24 GPA in school. I can’t see the future. If I could, believe me, I would have become obscenely rich from last year’s World Series.

Still, although I’m no Stephen Hawking, I know what NOT to say in times of trouble. I’ve been through plenty of rough times in my own little life.

Without a doubt, the last thing you need is one of those B.S. clichés. “It’s gonna be okay.” Or “Trust in God, it’s all going to work out.” Blah, blah, blah.

This is the kind of nonsense people always quote like parrots when you’re going through heartache. I know this because after my father’s suicide, people said this to me right and left. They walked through the funeral reception line and said things like:

“God has a plan.” “Trust in Jesus.” “Don’t worry, everything will work out,” “It’s going to be alright.”

What fertilizer.

I have a friend, for instance, who has been stuck in the hospital for 5 months. He’s going to die. The doctor is telling him he has a 2 percent chance of living. His organs are shutting down. His heart is wearing out. Are you going to tell HIM “it’s going to be okay”?

Or what about the young woman, Sierra, who is dying of kidney failure in the ICU, as we speak, in North Dakota? Her family emailed me this morning. A dozen people are gathered around her bedside, weeping. Is SHE “going to be okay”?

So I’m not going to lie to you, Anonymous. I simply won’t. I don’t know how things will turn out. I don’t know whether you will get through this without scars. I don’t know whether the manure will hit the fan. I don’t know whether anything will go back to normal again.

But. I do know a few things.

I know these things from personal experience. My personal story doesn’t matter, but I have been through a lot of monumental crap my ownself.

When I was a kid, my father shot himself with a .12 gauge. He locked himself in his brother’s garage and used his big toe to pull the trigger. And my life was never the same.

My father’s family disowned us. We lost everything. I was 11 years old when I started suffering from what a doctor might call clinical depression.

My single mother raised us on pennies. I became an abject failure. I didn’t receive an education until I was in my early 30s.

And I am going to share with you what I learned in that dark time, the entirety of what I know to be true. It can all be boiled down into two words.

Nothing lasts.

Nothing good lasts. Nothing bad lasts. Nothing in this world lasts. Not a blamed thing in this life endures for more than a few minutes. It comes and it goes. Bottom line.

People don’t last. Feelings don’t last. Happiness doesn’t last. Sadness doesn’t last. Circumstances don’t last. Nothing—and I mean nothing—lasts.

Rainstorms approach, then dissipate. Triumphs happen, then unhappen. Famous corporations fail. No-names prosper. Movie stars collapse. Overlooked fools succeed. Nothing is predictable. Not a godforsaken thing lasts.

There is only one thing in life that endures. Do you know what that thing is? The goodwill of heaven. The kindness of the Almighty. That’s it.

This mercy from On High is so plentiful it’s nonsensical. It defies knowledge. But it lasts. It never dies. And that is all I know.

I’m sorry, Anonymous, I know you wanted words that were more eloquent. But alas, I am no poet. I am North Florida white trash. I have no credentials. The only qualifications I have stem from my own suffering.

I’ve known pain. I’ve known hell. And I’ve also known the celestial grace of the ages. And it is the only thing I know.

So hold onto it. Because it’s yours, just like it’s mine. No matter who you are. No matter how you live. No matter what you believe. There are no magic words you have to say to receive the goodwill of heaven. No special handshake. No club to join. God belongs to you. And vice versa. It is already so.

And even though it sounds clichéd, even though you don’t believe what I’m about to say, even though you can’t see it:

Everything really is going to be okay. I swear.


  1. Joan - January 4, 2023 2:16 pm

    So, Sean. What do you think our afterlife will be

  2. Larry E. Notestine - January 4, 2023 2:21 pm

    Another comforting column, Sean. May your 2023 be a blessing to you and yours as you are a blessing to us.

  3. Cynthia - January 4, 2023 2:21 pm

    When I trust deeply that today God is truly with me and holds me safe in a divine embrace, guiding every one of my steps I can let go of my anxious need to know how tomorrow will look, or what will happen next month or next year. I can be fully where I am and pay attention to the many signs of God’s love within me and around me.
    Henri Nouwen

  4. Rise Marxer - January 4, 2023 2:22 pm

    Thank you, Sean, for everything you write! You are a true gift – may not realize it, but you speak heart & truth everyday.
    Thank you 🙏

  5. Mark Fendley - January 4, 2023 2:22 pm

    Amen – so be it, in God’s eternal goodness and grace.

  6. Kath - January 4, 2023 2:25 pm

    Prayers for all people having difficulty right now, my family included. Thank you, Sean.

  7. Marcia MacLean - January 4, 2023 2:26 pm

    Brother Sean, your sermons are getting better and better. You speak the truth and I believe everything will be alright.

  8. Roxanne - January 4, 2023 2:28 pm

    Amen. Thank you.

  9. Bill - January 4, 2023 2:31 pm

    Truth. Everyone is dealing with something. And if not today, wait until tomorrow; it’s coming. It’s called life.

  10. Priscilla Rodgers - January 4, 2023 2:35 pm

    So true Sean. Well said!

  11. Beau Marty - January 4, 2023 2:40 pm

    Yep, Sean, you got it right. On this crazy planet, nothing lasts. Except God’s love. This life compared to eternity, is like a handful of rope compared to a long 200′ rope. Laid out on the road you cannot see the end. So hang in there. This is a trial run. We get to practise. The Creator was so overjoyed when He made our first ancestors. But they did not obey Him, and Satan hates God so much that he can hurt God by hurting us, he is Happy. So trust God. He wants us to practise His way, His patience, His love. He will not let any of His creation suffer for much longer. It is almost over. We will go to sleep, die, and wake up to see Jesus, the angels, and our loved ones. If we tried to reflect His character, love, & glory in our lives then we get thr first resurrection. Otherwise, the second resurrection. And all babies, who died as infants, baptised or not, get to heaven. We serve a loving, just God.

  12. Ed (Bear) - January 4, 2023 2:42 pm

    I totally agree, Sean! We can ALL depend on “things” to change. Life’s pulse ebbs and flows with good and bad tidings. God’s grace is the one true constant we can navigate by.

  13. Bill Woodward - January 4, 2023 2:45 pm

    Sean , I love your column and look forward to each morning to start my day reading it right after my morning prayers. If there is one criticism I have over the course of following it is your use of the term ‘white trash ‘. If we believe we were all created equal how can we use this negative descriptive ?

  14. Judy C Adams - January 4, 2023 2:53 pm

    I dont know how you do it. For all those reaching out to you. Watch your personal boundaries and dont give all of you away. We love you.

  15. james p archibald - January 4, 2023 3:03 pm

    Well put. I always struggle with understanding God’s grace…………….but the way you expressed it really hit home with me,
    Thanks, Jim

  16. Richard - January 4, 2023 3:14 pm

    “The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins.” 2 Peter 3:9 (GNT)
    “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.” John 3:16-17 (GNT)
    “They answered, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your family [as well, when they believe].’” Acts 16:31 (GNT)

  17. Trilby - January 4, 2023 3:31 pm


  18. Pam Luna - January 4, 2023 3:31 pm

    Bravo, You nailed it!

  19. Ann Thompson - January 4, 2023 3:37 pm

    Rain. Is needed. Without it…we’re doomed. Though I enjoy the sun.
    Night becomes the day. Day becomes night.
    The moon shines in the day too….the sun is shining behind the clouds. We just don’t see it everyday.
    No (wo) man is an island….community- family, friends, and coworkers.
    If anyone says life is easy, they are lying…
    Let it be. There will be an answer.

    I believe. In myself, nature, creativity and that life is short. Life is for the living.

  20. Melissa Brown - January 4, 2023 3:41 pm

    Loved your column today. So true that we never know what is going to happen. Believing in God, helps us to deal with these happenings. Knowing that Heaven exists helps me cope with the health problems that l have. I do believe that miracles do exist and we should pray about our problems and give our life over to Jesus. We just should always PRAY !!!

  21. Emmagene Day - January 4, 2023 3:53 pm

    Thank you! The Lord IS my Shepherd, I shall not want.

    Best wishes to you and your family in this New Year.

  22. Marilyn - January 4, 2023 3:59 pm

    Amen, Sean!

  23. Marilyn - January 4, 2023 4:04 pm

    Thank you for these words today. I’m holding on to the,

  24. sjhl7 - January 4, 2023 5:44 pm

    God loves us. He always will love us. If He did not love us, He would not have sent His only Son to die on the cross for me and for you. His love is the only thing we can hang on to but that is enough …

  25. Joe - January 4, 2023 6:42 pm

    Hey Sean. I’m just now discovering your work, reading through some of your blog posts. Your humor gets me every time. However, this post was different. Stating halfway through, “‘Everything is going to be alright.’ What fertilizer.” and then ending with “Everything really is going to be okay. I swear.” The in-between definitely took me on the emotional ride, and I’m glad I read through it – as I felt a bruise at that halfway point, as I do trust in Jesus and his grace. I get it though. However, I am stoked after reading this post, more than you would think. I’m new to the area for about a year, just south of Bham, and to learn about another barbecue spot that I have not yet tried – I’m excited!

  26. Becky Souders - January 4, 2023 7:50 pm

    Whew! Please keep writing, Sean Dietrich.

  27. Ben Womack - January 4, 2023 8:04 pm

    Joy lasts!

  28. Marsha Stanton - January 4, 2023 8:23 pm

    You speak words of truth!! I heard the last words my mother spoke. It was 12/31/92, as I was sitting by her bed, crying, because I knew her time on earth was coming to an end. She hadn’t been awake or said anything for hours, when she opened her eyes, looked at me and said “everything’s gonna be okay”. She passed a short time later. My world was changed forever. I’ve never forgotten what she told me. She spoke the truth and I believed her because great Mommas never lie.

  29. Wendy Johnson - January 4, 2023 9:15 pm

    From God’s word (many references) “And it came to pass”

  30. Maggie Priestaf - January 4, 2023 9:44 pm


  31. Linda Moon - January 4, 2023 9:46 pm

    The people who spread fertilizer to us in our hard times don’t realize what they’re doing. Those of us who walk in similar shoes with hurting people instinctively know what t to say. My family has walked in yours, Sean. And that thing you know…I know it, too. I need that last cliche’ of yours for the next few weeks, beginning tomorrow and especially on January 11th.

  32. AlaRedClayGirl - January 4, 2023 10:01 pm

    This earthly life, no matter whether it’s filled with happiness or sadness, lasts less than a blink of an eye compared to eternity. So, keep the faith, your eye on eternity, and yes, everything will be okay.

  33. Karen Snyder - January 4, 2023 10:47 pm

    God’s love and grace are constant, and we may rest assured that all will definitely be okay.❤️ Thank you, Sean.

  34. Dee Thompson - January 4, 2023 11:23 pm

    Wow, you inspired me, without getting overly religious or mushy. It made me think, and here are my thoughts:

  35. Liz - January 4, 2023 11:55 pm

    I’ve saved this to have to re-read when needed. Thank you. My day starts with your column. I rarely post a comment, but sure felt compelled to today.

  36. Livy Abele - January 5, 2023 3:54 am

    Sean, this may be the best ever… raw but encouraging… beautiful…

  37. Pam - January 5, 2023 10:35 pm

    Amen to every word.

  38. Susan W Fitch - January 5, 2023 11:19 pm

    Sean, God never leaves us- He walks beside us-He is always with us! You and I are not “white trash” period! We are in God’s family

  39. Susan W Fitch - January 5, 2023 11:20 pm

    And, God doesn’t make trash!

  40. Kathie Drake - January 7, 2023 4:58 am

    Just thank you

  41. Amanda Le - January 13, 2023 1:34 am

    When I hit the really hard moments in life, and there are plenty of them, I always seem to find my way back to Ecclesiastes. Somehow reading this collective wisdom and realizing ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ is deeply comforting. Your column reminds me of that. Thank you.


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