To the Sufferers
Sufferers suffer. Suffering can be anything that causes pain. Hurting. Ache. Pain. It can be physical or emotional or mental. The physical is just that physical. Back and neck pain is physical. Emotional is unseen but is the pain of the heart. The feelings that are deep. They go to the core. It could be self inflicted by feeding an emotional heartache or it could be inflicted by others or by circumstance. And the mental by pain of memories, pain of thought. Bad experiences of yesterday that is present today and steals away tomorrow. Although each is different they are all three connected. The physical is tied to the emotional and the mental, just as the mental and the emotional is tied to the physical. Each area affects the other. It could be by others or it could be self inflicted. Self inflicted could be by bad choices that were made and the consequences that come with it. Whether self inflicted or not, suffering is suffering.
It is easy to say 'break the chains that bind you'. It is easy for those that are not suffering to say this. They do not experience your pain. The strong are the worst in this because they know not what your pain is. 'Break the chains that bind you' and leave the chains behind. If someone chains you tight hand to foot and locks you with locks and then you struggle and struggle day after day and weeks on end and nothing can or will loose you but the key and then someone who is not bound comes to you and says 'Break the chains that bind you and free yourself'.....And you cannot without the key. It is easy for the free and the strong to say these words 'Break the chains that bind you'.
You hope for relief. You want relief. And it is not to be had. You look to others whether doctors, psychiatrists, pharmaceuticals, friends, clergy, family and they disappoint and let down. It intensifies the pain and it hurts deeper.
I hate suffering. I do not like to suffer and I do not like to see others suffer. But suffering has value. It is a teacher that teaches like none other. It teaches long suffering. You cannot be taught long suffering without suffering.
I suffer pain of the heart and mind. It is past experiences of watching my son suffer and then die. It hurts and aches. It must be dealt with. But most of the time I can choose when and where to deal with it. Sometimes it comes unexpected. Sometimes it builds and grows and looms before me like a dark shadow encompassing and swallowing me. I suffer. It binds me and I am helpless in breaking free. I suffer.
And I know those that suffer physical pain. Chronic, maddening pain. It doesn't have to be intense pain. It could be that uncomfortable, nagging pain that gives no relief. A sister and a friend deals with this. And it is tied to the emotional and the mental. The heart sinks and the mind cannot get past it. Yes, I know about the ones that are in constant chronic pain and yet they still get past it and function and do life despite the pain. Yes, I know these and everyone champions them as heroes. But I speak of the weak. They cannot get past it. They may have been strong in the past. But the pain has humbled them and humiliated them. Or they could have been the weak from the start. But either way they are weak and cast down. They attempt to get past it. They try. They do try. But it is more than what they can handle. They can do no more than call for mercy. Mercy! God give me mercy and release me from this pain.
Paul the apostle speaks on this. About torment. About pleading with his Lord to take it away. Suffering is a great teacher. It taught Paul. The Lord said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness". And he went on to boast all the more of his weakness because his suffering allowed for a greater grace and power to be displayed.
Joni Erickson Tada. I read some of her writings. I hear her on the radio. She speaks a different language. She speaks the language of the sufferer. She speaks a different language and those that suffer hear and understand. I am inadequate and inexperienced to write boldly on the physical. But the words I write are what has been given to me to write and this I share.
There is nothing that compares to God. 'Who is like God Almighty?' The books of wisdom proclaim this statement and it is found throughout the Bible. Everything else will fail. Drugs are temporary. Friends can let you down. Family can disappoint. Psychology has limits. But nothing can separate us from the love of God. "If God is for us who can be against us. Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long: we are considered to be sheep to be slaughtered. No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord".
Memorize this scripture. When you read something it is like you are tasting it. If you taste it and like it then why not consume it. Memorize and you consume it. It becomes part of you. It does. It is in you and it empowers. Empowerment is powerful. It is the key to help to unlock the chains that bind you if only for the moment. But moments can lead to spans. There is nothing of more value than God. He hears each cry. Each plea. Each tear is noted. He is the only one that never fails. Never fails.
Do not depend on others or other things. People and other things God can use to help you but they are only supporting roles. A friend calls at a dark moment. The radio plays a song that ministers to a suffering heart. I mention in another writing about little things like a warm smile or 'the sweet voice in my ear' that ministered to me. These are God sent. They are little gifts that He uses to lift the spirit. We sometimes start to expect these little lifts and gifts and look to them to lift us and they let us down. They are not to be depended on. They are supporting roles.
Counselors and pharmaceuticals can also be helpful as supporting roles. Counselors can help identify and relieve suffering. They can help unlock the chains that bind you. Medicine can also help in giving relief. Both of these God can use. But they are a part. Only a part. Do not put more value on them then is necessary.
Five minutes: 'Salvation. Comfort. Keep me safe. Hear my voice when I call my Lord. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. To you O Lord I lift my soul. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He leads. He restores. He guides. I will fear no evil. Goodness and love. Open my eyes that I may see. Unfailing love. Teach me. Strengthen me. You are my portion O Lord. The earth is filled with your love. You are good. Let your compassion come to me that I may live. Preserve my life.' Less than five minutes. That's all. That's all the time it took for me to write the above snippets from God's Word. I snatched these words from the Psalms in less than five minutes. So much, so rich in five minutes. At my fingertips. There is nothing of more value than God's Word. How can I even describe it? Open and read.
Prayer. Praying to God. Lifting my burden to my Lord. It is deep, personal and intimate. He knows my thoughts. He sees my heart. He knows my condition. And there is a dialogue. I pray to Him and He speaks to me. He speaks to me in many ways but mainly through His words through His Word. God's Word given to man. It is balanced: I pray, He speaks. But it does take faith. And sometimes I am like the one in the gospels that says to Jesus, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" And my relationship deepens and grows with my Savior. And I can make it through another dark moment.
Acceptance with joy. I take this from a clever book I have read "Hinds Feet on High Places". It is an intriguing allegory about a character named Much Afraid with her two companions Sorrow and Suffering and their journey to the high places. The high places are overcoming mountains and obstacles and troubles and persecutions and hardships in this life. Along the way she meets a small flower that is out of place and all alone in a barren desert. The flower's name is Acceptance with Joy. When I read this I could identify with this. This is learned. The sooner this is learned the better. When we wrestle with our pain it is consuming, overwhelming, and exhausting. The pain increased and amplified. Can I accept it? Will I?
It's not acceptance with defeat either. Acceptance with defeat is defeating. Losing. Lost. It would be acceptance with bitterness. A poison to the heart and spirit. No, keep away from this. It is the path to a dark place.
Acceptance with joy lifts the spirit. That is what Paul the apostle spoke about with his 'thorn in his flesh'. He learned to accept it when he knew that God allowed it to display His power in Paul's weakness. "For my power is made perfect in weakness".
Can I be willing to accept God's power being perfected in my weakness? When God sends help and relief and gifts and lifts to me, can I accept them? I mentioned before about the 'sweet voice in my ear' and the warm smile that lifted my spirit. These were God sent. And I had to accept and receive them. When someone offers to help do you accept it? Can you accept it? The hand of God, the church, is filled with people that God can use to help you. But do not rely on the church. They are there as supporting roles to be used when God chooses to use them. If you pursue it for your purposes you will surely be disappointed. God first and then receive when offered. Same with family and friends. Accept their help as it is offered and be thankful for it when it comes but do not expect it from them. People disappoint. The church can let you down. Do not pull down the ones that come to help or they might become too consumed by your pain and distance themselves. This is not healthy. It is not right or good. Accept with joy. Accept with joy and give thanks to the one who sent the help. Learn from it and grow through it. My words are easily said, I know. But I write this from experience. From application.
Is the suffering you suffer from the past that is with you today going to steal away tomorrow? How many tomorrows are you willing to sacrifice? How much time and effort are you investing in fighting and rejecting and denying your suffering? This is hard to grasp I know. It is overwhelming and defeating and consuming. I know. That is why I keep bringing it back to God. He is your greatest resource. He has a hand that can minister to you with fingers and fingertips. What a relief when I let it go and say to God 'It is too much. It is too consuming. It is too great to overcome.' And God answers with a call from a friend or a song on the radio or something unexpected that sends laughter and the laughter releases a heaviness that was beyond you. It could be something simple like a flower. Or a sunset. Can a flower or a sunset lift your spirit? What if God has sent this to you for that very purpose.
I hate suffering. I hate seeing others suffer. But when it is accepted with joy that comes from God it becomes an unexplainable, amazing thing that is too great to even write about. The joy is as great as the suffering. And long suffering is attained. Not everyone has long suffering. It has value that you can share with others when the time may come. I share it with you now as I write. Suffering is a great teacher.