Where are you today? Are you battle weary? Or are you regaining your strength after having fought the good fight? Are you searching for meaning in your suffering? I want to encourage you to hang in there. Stick it out. Don’t give up.
I’ve been in the trenches, fighting a battle I didn’t see coming and I didn’t want to entertain. To make matters worse, I’ve seen this enemy before. A different face maybe, but similar tactics and all-too-familiar lies.
The blows have come one. After. Another. And at times, it has felt like I could not catch my breath in between. At times, it has felt like too much.
I have cried out in the midst of the battle… “, would you take this from me? Or, at least, quicken its resolve?” And then I have felt guilty for such a desire. It has comforted me, however, to know that even in His greatest hour, even Jesus asked the Father if His pain and suffering might be removed from Him “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42 NLT).
At other times I have questioned, ”Lord, what purpose does this serve? Please show me what I need to learn.”
Learning lessons in the pain
Frequently there has been a lesson in the pain. Looking back, the mountaintops are nice but I’ve usually learned the most in the valleys. I’ve come to realize, however, that sometimes, just sometimes, while there may be a lesson in the pain for us, sometimes our battles aren’t just for us.
Sometimes our battles are an opportunity for God to build a testimony of His goodness and faithfulness in our lives that will minister to others in their own times of battle. Our omniscient God knows how our battle will end, and He knows that in Him, victory is ours if we align our will with His.
Don’t give up
So no matter how hard and how long the battle, we cannot give up. Someone else may be depending on us to see it through to show just how faithful our God is to us, as an encouragement to them. Who else does God have but us to show His love?
Sometimes He uses us and our trials as an extension of His love when we are able to look into someone else’s eyes and knowingly say, “Me too…”
Years ago near the end of a life-threatening illness, I was beginning to regain my health but was still battling to regain my physical strength and emotional foothold. I had yet to see the purpose for my ordeal, or how God would use it for His good. Still tethered to IVs for hydration and nutrition, I was able to “disconnect” for a couple hours at a time to go to the office to see a few patients on a part-time basis to rebuild my strength and stamina.
A patient came into the office my first morning back, frustrated by a prolonged illness, angered by the healthcare system she felt had let her down, and truthfully, wondering where God was in the midst of her suffering and what purpose it would serve. Following the Lord’s prompting, I rolled up my sleeve, showed her my bruised arm and IV port, looked into her tear-stained eyes and with His love, whispered, “Me too.” In that moment, she knew she wasn’t alone and that God had been there for her all along.
Scripture tells us that “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV).
Christ didn’t have to leave heaven to come to earth and live as a man. Yet, He did so that He could sympathize with our sufferings, and so that He could point us to the goodness and faithfulness of God. He endured greater pain, battles, and rejection than any of us ever will, and He did so willingly for us.
Stick it out
Sometimes God uses our battles to show His love and goodness to someone else. It may not alleviate the pain, but it can give us reason to stick it out.
No matter what you face today, nor how weary you feel, hang in there. Stick it out. He never wastes our pain, and it never leaves us unchanged.
When we allow God to use our suffering to help someone else, God will exchange our ashes for his beauty (Isaiah 61:3).
Who will you reach out to today to say “Me too,” and in doing so, exchange your ashes for beauty?
Because of Him,
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
“I often see the long-term and devastating effects of the hard to define, hard to leave behind, ravages of depression. It seeks to wear down and wear out our hope. When longing to help another caught in despair, I’m acutely aware of how inadequate I am to help them, realizing that Christian platitudes and casual verses only serve to make them feel more alone or misunderstood. In Hope Prevails, Dr. Michelle Bengtson provides some profound wisdom for us all. By sharing her own transparent journey of recovery, Michelle offers a break-through approach that focuses on the spiritual component of recovery as a means to overcome. This book finds the cross roads between treatment and faith. What you hold in your hand is a rare gift. It’s hard to find a person who will be so honest about his or her own struggle in order to help you with yours. It’s a double blessing when that person also possesses the expertise, experience and grace to meet your needs. I recommend this book, and this woman, to those caught in the trap of depression. There is hope and it does prevail.”
Jan Greenwood Pastor of Pink, Gateway Women ~ Gateway Church, Southlake Texas
Author of Women at War