“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NLT
When I was eighteen years old, I woke up one morning with blurred vision, no feeling in my legs, and no appetite. This felt like the most horrifying experience of my life, especially since I am an athlete who loves to move around and be active. But here I was in bed, unable to move. I felt like I was stripped of my dignity.
None of us love pain. We often hear the phrase, “No pain, no gain.” But if you’ve been in pain for an extended period of time, it is easy to let discouragement sink in. So much so that we start to feel hopeless, like me in my season of suffering. I wondered what God was doing because I felt betrayed and abandoned. This lasted over a month, which felt like years to me! Why didn’t He stop the suffering? Where was He in my pain? After all, He is God and can do all things right?
The lesson I learned during that season was suffering will never leave us the same. Either we draw close to God, or we get bitter and distance ourselves from Him. There is no middle ground. Truth be told, I struggled to find God in my suffering when I was sick, but I turned to the promises of the Bible, even when my feelings told me otherwise.
Specifically, I read the Psalms to help me process my intense emotions. Pain is connected to grief and we need to grieve and process our pain in God’s presence. Reading the Psalms helped me have a guide for my own grieving process. I experienced doubt, fear, panic, and worry as my emotions were all over the map.
I doubted and felt like God was distant until I read Joshua 1:9 which says, “For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Instead of leaning on my feelings, which can be so fickle, I leaned on God’s unshakeable truth. This is an important lesson I learned as I worked through my suffering.
As I studied the Bible, I learned suffering was normal in the life of a Christian. This is important because it prevents us from being shocked when we go through pain. From Paul, Moses, Job, and especially Jesus, I saw how they all suffered. I was comforted to know God wasn’t picking on me, because at first, it sure felt like it! Next time you are in a storm, consider the following points.
1. Remember the promise of God’s Presence. The promise of the gospel is not a life free of pain. We are promised the presence of God regardless of what we face. We can be sure that God is with us in our suffering. Psalm 23:4 says, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.”
2. Trust God’s Word, not your feelings. When I decided to trust God’s Word instead of my feelings, I refused to allow my feelings to lead. Let His Word lead you. Hold tight to His promises.
3. Lean on community. I also learned the importance of community. When we walk through dark seasons, the temptation is to withdraw and isolate. As much as I wanted to shut people out, I decided to reach out for support. Why? Because God will often use people to heal us. He may use your friends to encourage you and provide what is lacking. Sometimes we simply need people’s presence beside us. Isolation is not the answer, but instead, we are called into community with one another. Rest in the promise that God will never leave you. And lastly, don’t fear asking for help. God gave us the gift of having one another, especially in difficult times!
1. Why is leaning on God’s Word more important than leaning on your feelings?
2. Who is one person you can lean on? Keep them in mind next time you are facing a hard season.