Hope When It Hurts, Suffering with hope

The Burden Makes Me Weary

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My heart has been incredibly weary lately. I have struggled to find words that adequately express the tumultuous emotions within my spirit. Daily, I need to fight the impulse to turn inward and disconnect from those around me, as I teeter between pressing on or succumbing to the crushing weight of heartache, pain, and fear.

But I Am God’s Daughter

Months have stretched into years of enduring, waiting, hoping, praying, clinging, and surviving suffering that seems to have no conceivable end. A battle has been waged over my family and me. The enemy seems intent upon turning my heart against the Lord for the pain he has allowed.

I am not the first to experience this:

The enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. (Psalm 143 v 3-4)

But I am God’s daughter, and I’m trusting with all I have (as weak as my faith may be) that he will not let me go. In my brokenness, all I can do is believe that he will carry me through and prove himself faithful.

It is not a lack of faith to grieve and to wrestle with the deep realities of heartache and loss. We live in a culture that’s so uncomfortable with suffering that we mask our hurt, cover our blemishes, medicate our pain, and explain our confusion away. Of course, pain is not to be glorified either, as though we are holier because we are suffering.

The ongoing reality is that suffering hurts. It’s uncomfortable, it’s lonely, it sends some friends running, and it causes others to judge things they cannot understand and didn’t pause to ask about. It’s unsettling, disorienting, and confusing, and it stirs deep questions of faith that we don’t have to face until suffering forces us to.But by God’s grace, I’m choosing to face it head on, rather than running from it. We must each choose how we will respond when the heaviness of life leaves us feeling joyless, hopeless, and even in despair.

Two Encouragements to Persevere

I have found such great encouragement in the words of Paul, a man whose greatest desire was to love and glorify God, yet who also suffered much as he fought the good fight of faith. I am thankful for the way God used Paul’s devastating circumstances to encourage the Corinthians, and then through the Scriptures to encourage countless others who have suffered through the ages.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Corinthians 1 v 8-10)

1. At the End of Our Strength, We Trust in His

After nine years of fighting an unseen enemy that has wrought unimaginable havoc through destructive neurological behaviors in one of our children (and thus in our other children), evidence seems to point to Lyme disease and other infections as part of the cause. This means a long, uncertain future of costly treatments without any guarantees of healing. There is no area of our lives that has not been touched by an illness that infected me years ago, which I then unknowingly passed on to all four of my children. Until recently, mysterious health problems had sent us from doctor to doctor, adding financial loss and burden to the many other stresses we were facing, while doctors simply shook their heads in confusion.

Even now that we have identified the problem, treatments are complex. It’s hard not to give in to fear and despair. As a woman and mother who desires to bring order and peace to our home, I fight perpetual feelings of failure over the turmoil that seems constant there. Misguided judgments from people who don’t understand also leave me feeling vulnerable.
But by God’s grace, and despite my flailing, the Lord continues to carry me, change me, and help me press on for another moment. As Paul experienced the complete emptying of his own resources in order to learn to rely fully on Christ, I am learning to do the same. Though I often feel as if I die a thousand deaths every day, I am experiencing greater life in Christ—for the more that I am emptied, the more I am filled.
Are you in this place right now?
You may be experiencing far greater trials than I am, circumstances I can’t even imagine. If you are despairing of life itself, uncertain whether you can endure one more moment of your pain, remember that the apostle Paul, a strong and greatly-used servant of God, experienced the same. Even more so did Jesus, the Son of God. He sweat blood the night before he died, such was the pressure and the anguish. He bore the entire weight of the world’s sin and the wrath of his Father in order that you and I would always enjoy the presence of, and have access to the resources of, the Almighty God.

2. At the End of Our Resources, We Treasure Christ

Circumstances that feel hopeless magnify the hope of the gospel. Circumstances that reveal our weaknesses magnify the strength of Christ. Circumstances that cause our love for this world to fade cause our love for Christ to grow. Circumstances that bring about the loss of earthly things magnify the glorious riches of eternity. Circumstances that seem to be “a sentence of death”—and may indeed be a sentence of death—“make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1 v 9).
When life is going well, it’s easy to be generally thankful for the gospel, but to not allow the veins of its truth to give life to us. But when disappointment and suffering strike, the gospel becomes our lifeline and empowers us to live victoriously. This has been true for me as I’ve desperately needed the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual strength to press on moment by moment, every day.
When I see pain in one of my children, but feel helpless to do anything about it, I need the reminder that Christ is grieved by their pain and remains Lord over it. When my child is causing deep hurt in another one of my children, I need the love, grace, and patience of Christ to flow through me before I react. When I feel insecurity rise up in me as I see the worry in my husband’s face over finances, I need to remind myself that my true security is in Christ, no matter what happens. When my body aches and I want to crawl into bed and sink into despair, I need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength to endure and focus on truth.

When the tenth doctor expresses how perplexed they are and suggests we see someone else, I must go to the word to remember that God knows all things, and that he is sovereignly working all things out for my good, even when the wise of this world are left baffled.

The hope of the gospel is not just our guaranteed future glory in heaven. It is the promised power, purpose, presence, and fullness of Christ in every moment of our lives on earth. It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1 v 27). Because of the gospel, suffering is no longer meaningless, but is wielded by the Lord to be used for our good, to change us into the people that our redeemed selves long to be: reflections of Christ.

Joy Will Come in the Morning

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning … You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30 v 5b, 11-12)

As I write this, I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone else. My temptation is to quit, become a hermit, and bottle up the bitter ache within my soul. But that would allow the enemy to have his way and, by the grace of God, he will not have his way in my life. I am the Lord’s and I know that he will not let me go. Whether I see God redeem this story in my lifetime or not, I know that it will be redeemed.

Whatever your own circumstances, I pray that you will be confident in this: if you are in Christ Jesus, you are covered by his promises. Though you may feel burdened beyond your strength and in despair, Christ will be your strength. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy will come in the morning. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year. But it will come. Cling to him, cry to him, and one day, he will turn your mourning into dancing, and you will be clothed in gladness, singing praises to his name and giving thanks for all that he has done.

Reflect

  • ~  What circumstances have tempted you to despair? What do you do when those feelings arise? (E.g. Pull away from those you love; mask it and pretend everything is okay; or bring yourself to Christ in honest brokenness.)
  • ~  How have you seen the Lord use your circumstances to draw you into a greater dependence on his strength and a greater hope in promises?
  • ~  Which of these truths do you need to find comfort in today?

Post Credit – Extra Chapter in Hope When It Hurts

11 thoughts on “The Burden Makes Me Weary”

  1. Sarah, thank you for sharing your heart in your writing. I feel as if you were in my head. This life is filled with trial and suffering. I have found that to be especially hard to bear when in regards to my daughter’s. BUT GOD. I with you, will not allow the enemy to have my family. Yes, the days are long and filled with situations I did not choose, but my God is mighty. My God is faithful. My God sees and loves in abandon. Thank you for the needed reminder. I pray God’s strength and grace are yours in this day. He is trustworthy.

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  2. I’m so sorry for such overwhelming affliction to chronically permeate you and your family. I do have a autoimmune trial as well as my husband having been afflicted with Lyme. I can identify with empathy much of what you write about, though not to the degree you have been called to endure, let alone the anguish of your children’s. Certainly you have left no stone unturned concerning the physical treatment of Lyme, in particular. But, in case you haven’t considered it, please see what hope the “Road Back Foundation” can offer you.

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  3. Hi Sarah, just said a heart felt prayer to our Lord for you and your family. I hear what you are saying. I asked God what I could possibly say to you because I’ve never been where you are, at least not for this kind of duration. I know He loves you with a love that is greater than you can even imagine. I know He knows your heart and every one of your concerns. And through the midst of this trial you and your family are going through, there you are, encouraging us. May our Lord bless you, May He make His face to shine upon you, may His Holy Spirit fill you with the strength that only He can give. I ask and pray for all these things in the holy and precious name of Jesus. Amen.

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  4. I am in tears, and I feel so deeply for you.
    I love everything that I read of yours, because life isn’t easy and can be very overwhelming.And you are so open and honest and it must help so many to keep there faith in God.

    Last year my husband and I received a prophetic word form a visiting prophet. And I share it with you as I believe to will encourage .

    At times you feel like you’ve been broken down.
    At times you feel like the enemy has rolled in and you feel like your being used as the enemy’s puching bag.

    But I feel by the spirit of God that he wants to come and say that he is pleased and smiles upon the fact that you are still here.

    Even some of the things that you have gone through.
    Have caused many other persons to step back to throw away there confidence to give up to miss trust God. But not you.

    We have moments where we’ve doubted that’s ok.
    We have all had moments when we’ve doubted but moments don’t define us.

    And God says I commend you, I commend you, I commend you, I commend you.

    It is not based on what I see because you know we’ve been in the valley and we’re still standing.

    You know even when we stumbled and fall we will not give up because God up holds us.

    We have moments where we’ve doubted, where we’ve feared and doubted, when we’ve had questions and we may have even shouted and got angry but God can bring us through that.

    I loved this word and God said that we should share it and encourage others.
    But at the same time I was also frustrated and angry because I want to hear that this turmoil and sickness would end now. Instead I found a unshakable hope and a deeper faith to trust God has got this.

    Thank you so much once again. Love and prayer to you and your family.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, your struggle, and the blessed Hope that we all can have in Jesus Christ. What a challenge and encouragement this was to me today. 🙌🏼

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