Suffering Christians Encouragement for those who are hurting


The Abyss

Being in the bottom of this (at night) is what depression is like. But God does lift us out to see above it, if not now, certainly after wards. What a great photo in any case.

Psalm 103:1-5 TNIV
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits--
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Photo by mm767cap


Comfort In Knowing Others Are Suffering Too

That's a strange sounding subject line.

I suffer from very bad dreams every night. I used to have night terrors every night which are beyond description if you haven't had them. An antidepressant has helped just enough so that I don't wake up with my heart pounding out of my chest.

I have tried everything physically, medically (medications, sleep study that God provided the means for etc.), dietary (almost), psychological, spiritual (I still pray about them every night as long as I remember to) and they still persist every night. I had never met anyone with quite this problem or even read about anyone online.

I was reading a message board on fibromyalgia that I frequent and someone explained their sleep and dream life and how it affects them everyday. It was my exact story. Then a whole page of people said it was their story too! I knew that fibromyalgia (somewhat synonymous with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which I can't be sure is an official diagnosis for me because of other conditions, but it's probable) causes bad sleep but I didn't know that so many had it this bad.

Somehow this is comforting. Partly because I know there may be a cause, even though nobody really knows much about fibro, and partly because I know I'm not being beat up in an unusual way.

The Bible comforts us in this way too. After reading that message board I immediately thought of 1 Peter 5:8-9: "Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world." (HCSB)

As far as resisting Satan, I found Thomas Shreiner's comments in his commentary on 1 Peter pertaining to these verses helpful:

[R]esisting the devil means that believers remain firm in their faith, that is, in their trust in God. Believers triumph over the devil as they continue to trust God, believing that he truly cares for them and will sustain them until the end. Perseverance until the last day is accomplished from first to last by faith.

--Thomas Schreiner, 1,2 Peter, Jude NAC, pg 243

James 4:7-8a HCSB
Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

I know that the context of the audience of 1 Peter was mainly persecution but I think it would apply to all suffering.

These things don't make my dreams any better but they do provide some comfort and I can know that I'm not being 'singled out' in a unique way and that God will grow me stronger because of it.

I can just imagine all the things that so many people are going through and feel completely alone whether it's something major or a nagging problem that someone can't seem to get rid of. This may be comforting and also encourage people to find others with similar problems.

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Suffering, Grace and Joy

A post on my other blog. (Don't tell anyone it's me.)

I haven't written anything personal for quite a while. I hope it blesses somebody out there.

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CD Recommendations

From Sovereign Grace Music:
Come Weary Saints
Valley of Vision

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For most of my adult life I've hated it when my birthday comes up. This year I was starting to feel the dread because I always get more depressed as it gets closer.

There are a few reasons I don't like my birthdays, the main one being that I wish I wasn't born. Life is too (increasingly) difficult and this world is fraught with evil and suffering.

I've been going through 2 Corinthians and I'm familiar with this verse in NIV:

2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

But going through it in other versions really struck me:

2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

2 Corinthians 4:17 NRSV For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure,

If I were to say that the glory in heaven will be 900 trillion tons and our suffering here, as bad as it can be, is like one tenth of a gram, that wouldn't show enough of a difference because that isn't "beyond all measure."

This year God is teaching me to hope for heaven and have faith that when that time comes around, it will have been more than worth it and I will be very glad that I was born so that I could be with God forever.

It doesn't make this life much easier but I need to ask God to give me the grace to have faith that it will be as He says it will be and experience the hope for heaven in this life.

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When You're Too Tired To Pray

When a big stressor comes along or when you're wiped out for any other reason it can be difficult to even have the strength to pray when that's what you need to do most. God knows our weakness as mentioned in Psalm 73:26: "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NRSV)

Here are some steps I believe God led me through during one of these times.

  • Just "be" in God's presence. No words are necessary. You may not feel God's presence--just acknowledge that He's everywhere and knows you and your situation. Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."
  • Pray a written out prayer that you know is God's will. I have these:
    and other prayers formatted and printed in a binder for these occasions or when I just want a change. Also see the Prayer category here.
  • Talk to God about how you feel as opposed to your regular devotional/prayer routine. Sometimes you can just talk to yourself without even praying directly to God. Psalm 62:8 says in part to "pour out your heart before Him". (NRSV)
  • Spend a short amount of time reading (as opposed to studying) the Bible like one Psalm.

My thinking is not necessarily to do all of these things at once, but as you have the energy.

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Praying the Psalms

I started praying the Psalms as mentioned previously.

Not all Psalms are prayers. However I learned that there are still things to pray about in each Psalm.

Do I participate in what "sinners" participate in? Do I mock others? Gently convict me and help me to repent.

Help me to delight in Your Word and to meditate on it more often.

Thank you that I am blessed and that You watch over me.

Psalm 1 (TNIV)
1 Blessed are those
who do not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but who delight in the law of the LORD
and meditate on his law day and night.

3 They are like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will be destroyed.

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What Did I Do To Deserve…?

What did I do to deserve this awful condition I'm in?

How come I explain myself over and over and nobody understands?

What happened to me that my dreams torment me every night?

What did I do to receive God's mercy?

What did I do so that He chose me?

What did I do so that my spiritual zeal increases as my condition worsens?

The answer is nothing.

Which would I rather have--normal mental and physical health with much less spiritual growth or the spiritual growth I've been experiencing without the chronic suffering? I can't answer that yet but as time goes on I'm more and more thankful for the spiritual growth and the opportunity to know Him so much better because of what He's doing.

I hate my life. I love God. He will be glorified. Someday, sometime it will have been worth it.

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Praying the Psalms

There are seemingly happy people all around us. Many aren't letting on what's going on inside. We can feel like most of the people around us are living charmed lives, especially in the church. The praise choruses sung at many churches and gatherings are always upbeat in tone and almost never express doubt, pain or suffering.

Starting next month, I'm going to read one Psalm a day as a prayer. There is a much better balance of life and expression in these poems/songs. I'll try to report back.

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Negative Self-Talk

Many of us, including me, have negative critical thoughts going in our head much of the day. I'm referring to the non-psychotic type. For me it's likely because my mom was always so critical of me, my own perfectionism and who knows what else.

I came to the realization lately that it's just God and me. God resides in me and He would never accuse or be critical other than conviction of sin, which isn't what the negative talk is about.

Romans 8:1
There is therefore, now no condemnation, for those who are in Christ Jesus.

1 John 4:15
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the son of God, God lives in him and he in God.

So when I hear the critical voice in me I tell it to shut up and let myself be who I am, and do what I do the way I do it, as long as it is righteous or benign behavior. Whether Satan is directly involved in this I'm not sure. I'm inclined to believe it's my own sinful nature and patterns that have developed. But Satan is the accuser and if Satan is involved:

James 4:7
Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

And we should not judge ourselves (as in condemn, berate etc.):

1 Corinthians 4:3
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.

Although we should examine ourselves to be sure we are living out the faith God wants us to live:

2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?

Loving Father, strengthen my mind to be able to take captive every thought and make it obedient to you. Let me know quickly when I'm thinking untruthful thoughts and show me your truth. Renew my mind so that my thoughts are pleasing to you.

2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Romans 12:2a
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

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God's will. Surrender. Taking up our cross.

I've given God permission to do whatever He wants in my life and I will always love Him.

Life has been so difficult with mental illness and so many disappointments and trials. But for some reason this causes me to feel I'm living His will. He is letting this happen. I'm learning and growing more spiritually than I would have any other way.

I don't like it. It all seems strange. But we can't try to intellectually understand God and how He works. Although I don't feel a warm, mushy love for Him I suppose I am loving Him by not giving up and doing all I can to get to know Him better.

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Job 9:12
If he snatches away, who can stop him?
Who can say to him, 'What are you doing?'

Romans 11:33-36
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
36For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

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How, after all this time, can I still be "of little faith?"
What a humbling realization

I know I am saved
I believe who God is

Do I believe Him? What He says?

Oh loving Father of mine
I confess my little faith

Enlarge it to believe your promises
to believe I'm more important than the lilies of the field
that the hairs of my head really are numbered
and that worry will do me no good

Help me to see the world and my physical life as temporal as it is
and to store up treasures in heaven

Help the eyes of my heart to be enlightened
so that I may believe all Your promises and all that all that You say is true

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