Oh, my heart. Today my heart just aches for those around me who go through suffering. The conversations, texts, phone calls, messages, I have had just in the past couple of days is enough to bring me to my knees in prayer for the pain that other people go through. There is something so powerful in sharing in our weakness and our struggles with those around us. I can truly say that I am blessed to know and be a part of every story of struggle that I know. It breaks my heart to hear what some of my girlfriends or friends of my family are dealing with, but I am honored and grateful to be a prayer warrior for them and it makes me proud of them to see them willing to share in their hurt.
In my personal experience, every time I knew I needed to ask for prayers, when I needed to confide in someone, when I needed comfort; a lump grew in my throat that caused me to become silent. I wanted to push my feelings inward. I would literally start sweating, well mostly pitting. (You know that nervous pit you get? Tell me I’m not the only one?) It was a debilitating feeling that would come over me when I wanted to speak about how much I was struggling, when I wanted to ask for help. When I still need to ask for help.
To ANYONE who is going through a valley in their life, I pray so hard that you overcome that fear to be vulnerable. That is satan in his best disguise, using your own fear against you. He wants us to be quiet, he wants us to feel crippled, crazy, alone, like our struggles are unimportant, that people won’t ‘get it.’ This is what he does. Satan works in amazing ways in the world we live in today, he wants to use the way we portray our lives against us. Everyone wants to portray the perfect family, the perfect home, perfect relationship, with pictures and posts all over the screens we stare through 24/7. But in reality we ALL need help. We all go through suffering at some point in this life. Our society has got to stop using these perfect facades as a way to detour our confessions of struggle. By doing this we are letting the enemy win.
“My grace is sufficient for you,, for my power is made perfect in weakness,. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
How dare we let the enemy silence our weakness. I pray that whatever struggles, no matter how small or big they may be, that fear and doubt flees your heart and you are able to stand boldly and proclaim your weakness so the Lord will give you His strength. I can think back on many occasions, where I sat in my bible class, my ladies group, dinner with a friend, a phone conversation with my family, etc, where I felt satan grasp hold of me. He wanted me to be silent on speaking, silent on asking for help, or silent on just crying or being angry and showing my true emotions. There were times where I let him win. There were times where I let that unwanted overwhelming feeling fester in my heart and my mind. When I let him win that festering prolonged. Sometimes hours, sometimes days, sometimes weeks at a time. It was crippling. BUT the times I didn’t let him win….those are the times that stick with me. The times I let the tears flow or I got angry and I spoke out for help. The times I admitted how weak I was, how sad I felt, and how fearful of the future I was….those are the times where the burden was lifted. I left that class, that study, the conversation, feeling 10 times lighter. It’s truly remarkable how God really does give us his strength when we boast in our weakness.
A question I had for the longest time and needed an answer to was “Why does God allow me to suffer?”
The answer I came up with – “To refine me.”
“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Isaiah 48:10.
“You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you WILL restore me to life once again, and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.” Psalm 71:20-21 – Notice, he did not say, you “might” restore me, “I hope” you restore me….but you WILL restore me. When we go through hardship, do we believe this?
When you think about life, what do you think makes a bigger impact on you? Laughter or sadness? Think about it. We all know which one of these would be more enjoyable, right?
Ecclesiastes 7:3 tells us “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.” Think on that. Sadness has a refining influence on us. Our God does not want us to hurt, he does not want us to suffer, he does not want us to be in pain, but he does want us to be refined IN HIM. Do I think God wanted me to lose our baby? Do I think he wanted you to lose your baby? Do I think he wants your marriage to fall apart? Do I think he wanted your parent to get cancer? Do I think he wants you to have an incurable illness? NO. I believe our God hurts for and with us. He collects each and every one of our tears in a bottle. You are his daughter, you are his son, we are the children of the most high God. He doesn’t want us to be suffering, but I truly believe he wants us to be refined in that sorrow. He wants us to draw close to him. He longs for us to long for him when life caves in on us, because this home is not our true home. We are called to something greater, to be somewhere greater, and that’s where we have to look up and keep our eyes focused, through the good and the bad.
I will leave you with this verse from Romans, I could elaborate my feelings on this, but there is no need. You take from it what you need to fit your life, to produce the endurance that you need to get you through hardship or to encourage those around you to get through theirs. I’ll let you elaborate on this one….
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3