It's been a tough time - 22 months of coping with loss, depression, stress, emotion, exhaustion.
You too know how that feels. We all have rough things to cope with: times of pain, anxiety, grief - from a variety of causes. And it's hard when something suddenly reminds you, takes you back into it when you thought you were learning to cope, learning to live with the 'new normal.' The questions come again and again.
-Why, God? why did that happen? and why do I need to be reminded again today? when will it all come to an end so I can move on?
It was the sermon Sunday morning. Well meant, talking about Jesus quietening the storm, being there IN it with the disciples; linking it (somehow) to Moses in the bulrushes and God being concerned with every small detail of our lives. And lots of stories of the pain and the suffering that people endure - including one of a woman being crushed under the wheels of a car and killed.
I saw that happen to my lovely 90 year old mother.
Don't be bitter, the preacher urged. Be broken hearted, yes, for the Lord binds up the broken hearted. But don't get bitter. Let the train of faith always be ahead of the parallel train of problems and pains. How, I asked him afterwards. How do I do that? How do I keep the train of faith ahead? He had no answer but to repeat that there is so much suffering in the world and not to get bitter but allow God to bind up your broken heart. I left feeling bruised and broken hearted all right.
But there IS an answer. We can know what to do, where to go for help. We can't explain why the sorrow and the sadness and the hurt and the pain, but we can look to Christ and seek His peace and His strength. I can't pretend it's easy, for it's not. There are days when there seems to be no peace, no strength, no stilling of my storm. But there are things I am learning, that I can share with you, for those days. That I pray will help you as you struggle with the pain and the sorrow, the emotion and the exhaustion.
- ask for help. Personally I don't find that easy. But when you can't pray for yourself, for your situation, for your sorrow and pain, someone else can and will. A trusted friend; the prayer team at church; a prayer help line; even on Twitter where you often see people asking for prayer. All of the above - it doesn't have to be either/or! You don't even have to say why if you don't want to. A simple "please would you pray for me today" can be enough.
- take a short walk. Even if it's just a short walk through a park. Fresh air and looking around at trees or flowers can help. Drop your shoulders, breath deeply... keep looking around, moving your head, your eyes, to see from side to side. Notice what's around you.
-be grateful. Actively look for, notice, write down, two or three things for which to thank God each day. Whether it's the aroma of fresh coffee or the sun rising again today; a green light or a parking space; an email from a friend or a verse of Scripture which stands out and helps; a friend, a grandchild, your favourite pair of shoes .... Jot down a couple of gratitudes even in the brokenness.
- allow yourself time. Time to rest; time to recover; time to heal. We are a busy, rushed society. We don't allow ourselves time, let alone one another, to grieve, to mourn, to recover from loss whether of loved ones or jobs, homes or situations. He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds - but maybe not instantaneously for maybe we have things to learn, things we can share with others, rough edges to be smoothed, pride to be smashed. Go slowly. Rest up. Don't try to do too much too soon.
Know that He cares for you. Look again at the top cartoon. And be thankful.
WHAT HAS HELPED YOU MOST IN TIMES OF DIFFICULTIES AND SORROW AND PAIN?
WHAT CAN YOU SHARE THAT MIGHT HELP OTHERS?