I’m trying to think of something to write about that has nothing to do with illness, strokes, or limitations from a stroke or therapy. I just can’t think of anything.
It occurs to me that for those who have a family member who has had a recent event like a stroke, heart attack, or cancer…that is all they can think about. You eat, try to sleep and do what you have to, but during those early weeks after the diagnosis and while the person is in the hospital? That is all you can think about! Everything you hear, see, listen to? It all relates to this event.
How is your loved one going to be? Are they recovering? Have they had a good day? Does it look like they are going to get better? Did they have a bad day? Is that a bad sign or a temporary set-back? Did the doctor give a hopeful report? a discouraging one? Are medical personnel telling you the truth or are they hiding information? No matter how logical you try to be, your head seems to be full of questions that surround your loved one! Add to that the factor of exhaustion and you have a recipe for plenty of misunderstanding and even paranoia, in terms of all of the communications that are taking place!
The acute stage of illness draws from all your resources. Understanding this will help you realize the exhaustion you feel when the acute stage is over.
Yes, it probably is a form of shock. For some people it is more obvious than others. Some of us laugh more when we are in shock. Others cry more. Some of us just sit in stunned silence! Some appear to have it all together but in their heads, they are not processing very well at all!
Some sit alone, away from people when they are stressed. Others need to be around people for some distraction and love. They can’t handle the craziness going on in their heads all by themselves. It feels good to be around some normal. Most of us need a little of both.
Christians are just like everyone else in most ways.
We feel too.
We are not above being hurt, suffering or being crushed by life’s circumstances.
As a child and teen, I grew up in a culture where we thought Christians somehow didn’t have normal feelings. Because they were Christians, they could rise above whatever happened. I tried to be one of those people. It sounded really good. It never quite worked out for me. I’m not one of those people who doesn’t feel anything. I tended to internalize everything so I could be like that.
The truth is, no one is one of those people. GOD made us with emotions. We feel. It is a good thing. It protects us from scoundrels, from taking on too much, from people who suck us dry and a variety of other things. If we ignore our feelings, we pay a heavy price!
I prayed during times of trouble, but my tendency was to be a jumble of frantic with nerve endings sticking out everywhere. My mind tended to go every direction. These same people were ever present to tell me I wasn’t spiritual enough. I needed to devote more and I wouldn’t have all these struggles.
I’m here to tell you they were wrong! Dead wrong! (It’s true I wasn’t spiritual enough, but that wasn’t the reason for the struggles. I have a sinful nature. I have all kinds of issues. I’m a broken mess. But having more devotions isn’t going to “fix” those problems.)
Sadly, I didn’t understand how to ask for help nor did I understand what was appropriate in terms of asking for help. I tended to feel like I was a lot of trouble to people. From the perspective of a parent now, I think it is sad that I grew up feeling so alone and unworthy of help. I didn’t learn how to be unapologetic for my existence until I was married. My husband had to teach me to stop apologizing generically all the time. Sad, but very true.
Now, too many years too late, I’ve figured out that I haven’t done a good job ministering to people who were suffering over the years. Yes, I had rarely ministered to people appropriately, but also I didn’t know how to acknowledge the pain of living in a broken world with people, especially people who were believers. I had to learn how to acknowledge the pain I was feeling in order to help minister better to others. I also had to learn to acknowledge the pain they were dealing with. Going through times of suffering helps us do that. We learn what it feels like to be in pain…and that it won’t kill us…even though it can feel like it at times!
What is the difference between Christians who suffer and those who aren’t Christians who are suffering?
The difference between Christians and those who aren’t Christians is not that we don’t feel pain or suffering. We feel it just like the next person. When Jesus was on earth, He felt pain and sadness. The thing that sets us apart is that we have hope for the future. Our confidence is that because of the work of Christ for us, we can stand before a holy GOD, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus!
We have Someone to walk with us through our difficulties, to lead us and guide us when we don’t know where to go or what to do, to forgive us when we sin and fail.
We also have community. Our Church body is often helpful during times like this. They can pray for us and often do other tangible acts to help us as well. It’s true that they are broken too. They may not do “enough” in our eyes. They may even let us down. (This has not been our case!) But even here, GOD is our comfort. We can appropriately ask for the help we need. If it is not forthcoming, we have to trust GOD in other ways.
Our earthly suffering is temporary.
Our heavenly glory is forever!
The pain and sadness that comes our way occasionally, as we live out a lifetime in this broken world, will vanish in the light and glory of heaven, as we look into the face of Jesus! But our hearts break when we deal with injustice. We hurt when we are treated cruelly or are disrespected. We are sad when we watch our children struggle…or when we personally suffer.
The hope we have is that this brokenness will not last forever. It is temporary. A day is coming when it will be over. The years of crying and pain and suffering and sadness will be finished. We will be with Jesus…forever.
The magnificence and glory of that time, we are told, can not even be compared to the suffering we now experience. Can you imagine what that will be like? This broken, painful time is temporary. But that time that is coming is going to be eternal. Forever! It is not going to end! WOW!
Think about the suffering you are experiencing now in the light of GOD’s promise that the glory of heaven will make that suffering seem like nothing in comparison to the glory that is there! Can you imagine that?
Now think about Christians in other parts of the world who are suffering incredibly right now just because they are Christians. I can’t wrap my mind around that kind of suffering. But even that kind of suffering, we are promised, is going to seem like nothing in comparison to the delight of heaven. It’s something to ponder today isn’t it?
I found this passage (Romans 8:16-22) very encouraging to meditate on. Most of it is printed above. It is ESV. You may want to ponder it in another version. Make some time to memorize some of it for your future encouragement.