Blurb Verse

"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
Romans 5:3-5

Sunday, April 1, 2012

It's been a bad day...

Leeton, NSW (c) 2011
" O Lord, be gracious to us, 
we long for you.
Be our strength in the morning,
Our salvation in times of distress."                                                                            
Isaiah 33:2

Do you ever feel like you're broken? Like the weight of the world, your day or a really difficult situation has stripped you, leaving you bare & empty?

I've been feeling like this for a couple of days now, like I'm the tree in this picture with no leaves or fruit to show. No matter how hard I've tried, I just haven't been able to lift myself out of this funk I'm in.

Pain has a nasty way of separating us from those around us. It seems like no one truly understands you or wants to face your pain with you. My fibromyalgia has left me disillusioned in the past but the feeling of social isolation & disconnectedness is a really tough one to beat, partially because it is true.

So, what can we do about it?

1. Grieve
I think we can feel free to feel upset, outraged and hurt. In my darkest moments, some of the only words that have been able to capture what I am feeling have come from the Bible itself. Psalm 88 is one of my favourites. The psalmist describes his life is drawing near the grave[v3], being in the lowest pit & in the darkest depths[v6]. He describes the pain at losing all his friends[v8], at being afflicted with suffering & being close to death[v15]. The last verse [v18] in particular, "You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend." I know some of you have experienced days like this, & I certainly have over the past weekend.

2. Fall into God's arms
In Psalm 88, we see the reaction of the person suffering under all this grief. He calls out to God, every day [v1-2,9,13]. He does not have his friends around him anymore because they have all left his side. But he has his God. And so do we. Isaiah 33 echoes this. Isaiah cries out in longing to God to be his strength and his salvation. Our best response during those inevitable dark days is not just to cry about it but to give it all to God (note: these 2 things can be done together). Share your loneliness, your fears and your hurt with him & do this daily. There's nothing like unexpressed hurt that leads to never-ending bitterness. Ask him to be your strength. Ask him to help you forgive your friends for not supporting you. Ask him to help you survive this dark day & any others that follow.

3. Do something practical for someone else
Another thing that suffering, isolation & grief are really good at doing is keeping you focused on yourself. When you don't have the energy to survive your own day, you rarely have the energy to look to other's needs. In an ideal world, there'd be others to help you survive, but as followers of Christ, we know that this life is far from perfect. The best thing you can do is find someone else around you who's suffering & help them out. Now you're probably thinking, How? I can barely deal with my own grief. But remember, it does not have to be a big thing. Maybe for you, it means giving a hug to your brother/sister. Maybe it means donating $10 to a charity/mission. Maybe it means praying for someone else, even though you have lots of things to pray for yourself. I believe it is the loving & godly thing to do, to look to each other's interests, even when we feel like our interests are being ignored by everyone else.

I pray that God might be gracious to you this day, as you struggle to survive. May He be your source of strength and comfort & may He enable you to survive this distressing period.

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