Last week was a tough one. The memorial service for my brother and sister-in-law was now behind us. Family and friends went home, my husband went back to work, and I, too, was supposed to get to work.
But how do you go back to “normal” when it seems the world will never be the same?
How do you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and carry on with an enormous gaping, gushing hole in your heart?
As an author, I work from my home office. I love what I do. I regularly thank the Lord for this blessing. But last week my office felt dark, eerily quiet, and utterly depressing.
All I wanted to do was sleep—and I did a lot of it. When I was awake I felt depressed, alone, and guilty for not being productive. I also found it difficult to focus on anything, including prayer. I didn’t completely ignore the Lord, but my prayers were clipped and vague. “Where are you, Lord? Help me.”
Suffering from grief takes its toll on a person physically.
It’s a fact. Lack of energy, fatigue, and exhaustion are all physical signs of grief. Remember, grief is not only about physical death. Grief is about loss (see my post The Many Shades of Grief).
Suffering can cause us to question God’s love.
Our hearts react by pulling away. It’s a natural response to pull your hand away from a flame. So, it makes sense that we would build a barrier around our broken hearts for protection. Seems logical.
Hiding our hearts from the Creator is detrimental to healing and growth.
Our hearts are a gift from God—a treasure. Our hearts are what make us human, the pinnacle of God’s creation. Hearts allow us to dream, hope, laugh, be courageous. Most importantly, our hearts allow us to love God and others. And there is nothing greater than love.
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
1Corinthians 13:13 ♥
The enemy knows the intrinsic value of the human heart.
Therefore, he will leverage our pain for his use—to harden our hearts and turn us away from our loving, healing Father.
We must be determined not to allow Satan to win.
How do we do this amid heartbreaking suffering and loss?
Love God in our suffering.
I know it might seem impossible. Stay with me, okay?
The enemy hates love because God is love. Our greatest weapon against the devil is to love God, especially during times of trial, loss, and suffering. Here’s how to start.
Invite God into the pain.
After a few days of a semi-comatose existence, Scriptures I had memorized began to play over and over like background music in my brain.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
“For I hold you by the right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say don’t be afraid. I’m here to help you.” Isaiah 41:13
“You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees.” Psalm 119:68
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The words of truth were like rain in the desert, penetrating my hard, crusted over heart. The Lord had never left me. I was the one who had distanced myself from Him. And yet, here He was, holding my right hand and whispering His promises in my ear.
The distance I was feeling was self-inflicted. This also meant I could choose to stop distancing myself from God and invite Him in. “I am choosing to give you my broken heart, Jesus. Come into these feelings of depression, abandonment, and numbness. I choose to love You here in the pain, God.”
Make an offering of our suffering.
When we think of an offering, most of us think of a monetary tithe (meaning a tenth). But the Bible tells us we can offer God more than our money. Sometimes, the greatest sacrifice we can make is to praise the Lord in the middle of a storm.
“I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:17
This is a choice, mind you. But considering the alternative of basting in a stew of depression, self-pity, loneliness, and ___________ (fill in the blank), the best choice seems obvious.
Trust God with your whole heart.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
- God can handle your doubts.
- God can handle your anger.
- God can handle your depression.
- God can handle your questions.
- God can handle your pain.
Invite Him into the suffering and He will meet you there with open arms, my friend. He will bring comfort and peace like nothing this world has to offer. He will also use the pain to bring about good in His time.
Blessings and much love,
P.S. There is no shame in going to a counselor to help through the grieving process 🙂
I’d love to hear your thoughts and prayer requests in the comments below.
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