Always keep open communications with God during seasons of suffering.
I don’t know if it’s because I am an introvert but I fight the urge to just want to completely shut down when I feel overwhelmed with grief and the challenges we face during difficult seasons. Feelings of just wanting to withdraw from my family and friends during those times can take over my thoughts, in many ways it’s a feeling of not wanting to be a burden on them, sometimes it’s just as simple as not knowing how to express my feelings. In those times I find myself even shutting God out as if my burdens are too insignificant and I shouldn’t bother the Creator of the universe with my silly issues.
I don’t like that place of sadness and life interrupted by pain. As the holidays are quickly approaching, I find myself feeling like I need to grab onto something firm and steady myself for the waves of sadness that come rolling in when I think of my dad not being here this Thanksgiving and Christmas, this is the first holiday season without him. When I think of my mom facing this season without her husband and love of her life, it just seems unbearable.
A few lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of years as we endured suffering and loss is that it’s important to maintain open and honest communication with God. As bad as you may feel and as painful as your situation may be, don’t be afraid to trust God with your circumstances and emotions as you experience tough times. Be open and honest with those closest to you, communication is so important.
Go to scripture! God speaks to us through His Word. As I explored scripture and read over familiar passages I was struck at how much more meaningful the words in the Bible are when I’m going through trials. From the very first book in the Old Testament to the very last book in the New Testament, the Bible is full of people facing hardship and unbearable circumstances. I found comfort in reading through the Psalms and could relate to many of King David’s prayers and heartfelt laments to God. I see Paul suffer persecution time after time but never wavering and always encouraging the New Testament Churches, oftentimes from prison! The love Jesus showed as he was beaten, mocked, hung on a cross and died a gruesome death because of His love for me is so unfathomable that it’s hard to even come up with the appropriate words of gratitude. When you take the time to study scripture it’s evident time and time again that God understands and knows suffering and pain. I find comfort in knowing that.
Another important component when in seasons of suffering is to find community with others. Friends that you trust with your emotions, those you can talk openly with. People that will walk alongside you and lift you up in prayer when you find yourself in dark and lonely places. Likewise, it is important that you be someone who is not afraid to lift others up when they need encouragement and support. There’s nothing more precious and Biblical than Christian community, helping one another through life’s challenges.
Lastly, just embrace your circumstances no matter how difficult they become. Let God mold you and teach you during those hard times. As crazy as it sounds, I always feel the closest to God when I’m in such a desperate place that there is nothing left of my strength. I know if I turn everything I have over to Him, He will meet my needs in His perfect way. Don’t stop loving and serving others, but continue to let God work through you giving you strength to do so. The most powerful witness of God’s love is even when you are experiencing suffering you still have a desire to be obedient and be used by God to help others on their spiritual journey. God works powerfully in and through our pain. What a beautiful picture of a pure and complete love that only comes from above. I am weak but in my weakness I am strong through Christ’s strength! There are so many people in similar circumstances during the holidays, trying to manage grief and holiday cheer all at the same time. Don’t be scared to embrace your pain and sadness and let God, His Scripture and your Christian Community comfort you. In doing so, you will find peace and grace and you will be able to comfort others in their moments of deepest need.
I know My dad is happy and pain free in heaven. I know that we will be sad without him here but we will make new memories as a family, always keeping my dad’s memory alive and close to our hearts. As those waves of sadness come I know I have to hold on to Christ to steady me, He’s the only sure and safe foundation in the hazardous rip currents of our lives.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
My hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8 NIV