“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (1)
We are all in the trenches of life trying to survive life’s difficulties. Yet the value of life is not determined by how or what causes suffering, our value is in the Lord. Since life is not determined by circumstances, what kind of impact does suffering have on us individually?
After my son’s death and while in the process of bereavement it seemed I hit a wall…the pain seemed unbearable and I got stuck in the pain! Grieving someone you loved so dearly was exhausting to say the least. A laborious task took huge amounts of energy, from me. Although a certain amount of grieving was to be expected…it was even more wearisome to work through the ugly unfair results of murder which made grieving so much harder and extremely complex. It felt like I was in sinking in sand, so to speak. How did I dig myself out of the trenches of pain, and shake off those shackles which seemed to hold me in constant agony? What were the pitfalls I needed to stay away from? What were some of the set backs that got in my way?
May I share some of the things I learned?
1. Suffering can cause self-absorbed despondency – When we have no energy or thought of anything outside of our world of troubles we become self-absorbed. Our miseries dominate everything! Readjusting our sights on the Lord to seek what He would have us do is a key: God promises if we seek Him first He will meet our needs. Refrain from using self pity as a method for control – it will work against you, not for your good.
2. Pain blinds us – we can’t see the forest for the trees! Many times our perceptions are distorted by pain. Sometimes trials come because we’ve made bad choices other times it is a result of another person’s bad choice that affects us. Feelings of being punished, shamed or condemned are common, but at times not accurate, because pain can be distorted with a sense of false guilt. Prayerfully, we can go to the Lord to help us examine our hearts, thoughts and behaviors for indicators to why we are carrying guilt. Realize God uses trials to turn us to Him for repentance and ultimately to refine and teach us. Talk to God about your feelings, confess your sins and claim God’s promises. “Their is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” God is for us not against us.” (2)
3. One of the biggest stumbling blocks in moving forward during difficulty is to stay isolated. Isolation cuts us off from being involved in the real world. It’s detrimental effects keeps us from growth, and hinders the healing process. Get involved with friends, family and people. Keep engaged in life through hobbies or personal interests. Push yourself if you must to get active.
4. Anger – Sometimes anger is a warning that alerts us something is wrong. Oftentimes, it is a signal of insecurity that shields us. A method of self-preservation. Anger can be a release of so many emotions, but what we do with that anger is what matters most. How do we respond when we are challenged? Fueling anger leads to resentment, bitterness and hostility. Our best option is to put off anger, giving it over to the Lord. Then we can trust, heal, and find strength to live in His power.
5. The implications of suffering can cause a sense of complicity which leads to depression. The counter-intuitive response is to avoid leaning on emotions because they change from moment to moment. Take responsibility. And submit to God.
Strive to live in right relationships
Explore healthier options through professional counseling, reading, and talking with people.
Embrace new beginnings. Even when relapse happens, realize it’s not the end but only a new beginning. Brush off past failures and start over. It’s okay! People are not perfect! Everyone of us are flawed. Recognize we are not perfect.
Read the scriptures out loud, counsel yourselves with them, and pray. Meditate on a certain verse or passage. Even one verse can be inspirational to carry us through a hard day.
1. Psalms 23:4 nkj
2. Romans 8:1