Dear Friend, I have been told by someone that you are suffering. Let me first say, that I can relate. I, too, know what it is like to be there. To still be there. To live throughout the day in pain, at times in agony, and sometimes just a desire to crawl into myself. I understand the relentlessness of suffering. The sheer length of a trial. That's probably the hardest for me - the length of this affliction. But, enough about me. How about you. How are you? I am sure there are days when it seems as if you are forgotten, no one remembers that you are suffering and life goes on, sometimes without you. So, how ARE you? Really? Deep down. Isn't it nice to be genuinely asked by a friend and then being able to be honest about your day, your week, your month? Oh, I'm not talking about the list of new symptoms, but just a time when we can share our heart in the trial. There is a time to share symptoms, to be sure, but our hearts need an airing too. I have been asked so many times how I get through each day. How do I NOT go into depression, retreat into myself. How do I cope. Well, I have given it a lot of thought. And I realized that God has been so merciful to me in this suffering. He really has given me ways to manage. Ways to have victory in the trial. To even have joy. Would you mind if I share them with you? Mind you, these are something I have personally done and am currently doing in my life. And I don't have it all figured out, nor do I get it right every time. But, I have learned to have some new habits. Habits that make me force my mind to go where I want it to go, rather than letting it wander. I need to lead my heart. Because my heart desperately wants to take the easy road, the one most traveled. But I find in Scripture that: Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24 So, how does this play out in real life? In a life walking the road to suffering? How do I escape the four walls of my room? We live on a little farm and we have had our share of hurting animals. I have observed that when an animal hurts it hunkers down to be in the least amount of pain possible. They weather the storm. They have patience to wait it out. They can wait a long time. Well, I have a lot of time of waiting too. And I have been thinking in that time. And one thing is for sure, I am better than an animal! So, how do I wait out this pain? As far as I know, I am in this for the rest of my earthly life. How do I keep going with this long road stretched out ahead of me? Well,
I DO THE NEXT THING
I have found that I just do the next thing that needs to be done. If I need to take a shower, then I take a shower. Read my Bible, read my Bible. Mealtime? Then I eat. Etc, etc, etc. There are times when it is actually impossible to do this, but I have found this to be a very workable solution. I have a job to do, be it however so small, and I can do it. So, this is my goal every day. To go from one task to another. Then in the midst of doing the next thing I find I may have the strength to do the next. Or the desire to do the next. If not, then I rest and try again. This may sound impossible, but it has helped me. I have tried wallowing in self-pity. That did not work. I tried being frustrated and that got me nowhere. I needed to do something that I could control, and doing the next thing gave me measurable, tangible things to do. This has helped me stay engaged with my family, friends and my life. I told myself long ago that I was not going to let this affliction win. Not let these prison walls close in on me. So, I fought back. Is it easy? No way!!!!! A thousand times no! Every ounce of my body screams out that this is HARD! Actually, this is the hardest that has ever happened to me. I could give you the list of all the hard things that have happened, but it would only rehash things that God and I have worked out. And it is depressing. I mean, why recount the hard stuff when I have Jesus to look at.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2
I know my life has been hard. But it has been GOOD. Not easy. But, oh so very good. Can I say that because I have worked so hard to get where I am, or that I deserve the good? Or because I think positive, positive will come to me? Well, frankly, that would be lies. All lies. So, how could I write this letter and tell you how I have been able to keep my head up when all around me is sinking? I really only have one answer. And it is the only true way I have found to cope in this long journey of affliction that I find myself on. I am sure by now you are able to guess what that may be, or even what I may say. I would be remiss if I did not give credit where credit is due. It's prayer. Simple as that. It is here that I find hope. Because frankly, it is pretty hopeless without this solace for my spirit. It is here that I have encountered HOPE. Because I do not know you, it is hard not to sound cliche, know-it-all, etc., but the honest truth is.....I needed God to be real to me. You may or may not believe that. That's ok. But could I challenge you to put yourself and God out on a limb and .....PRAY to Him? This is really the only way I have been able to survive all these years and especially during the hardest trial of my life - these past 33 months. You may or may not agree or it may make you wonder why you read this letter. Hopefully it's because you are so tired of being stuck the you're ready and willing to reach out to Someone Who you thought doesn't care or is not real. I am not going to preach. Only encourage you to pray. Just talk to God. I have yelled at God in this affliction. Does that shock you? Well, He is the only One who can handle everything you throw at Him. Everyone else walks away. It's when I am raw before Him that I have found hope. So, I encourage you to just begin to pray. You have time. You know, those restless nights, those long days in your bed. What have you got to loose? Nothing. What have you got to gain? Everything. But you may already be one who prays and yet find yourself in a dead end. Then what? This is where the real challenge is. To keep going when all seems lost, hard and lonely. It is toughest when the tough gets tougher. This is where I am currently. I do pray. Have prayed for 36 years of my life. I love praying. I mean, love praying. Now what can I do? There's the rub. If I am going to die to myself I need to be completely at a place of surrender to God. And that is giving up my rights to myself and what I deem is right. So how do I combat this? How can I get past myself and press harder into God?
That's right. The Bible. I find so much comfort in God's Word. I study it. Memorize it. Read it. Meditate on it. I have got to take the time to be in God's Word every day and for a big portion of my day. This is something I can do when I am in my bed, or lying in my hammock outside. I can say my Bible verses that I have memorized. I can recall passages that I am studying and chew on them. I can read and re-read His very letter to me, to us. I just sit at the Master's feet and read His love letter to me. And soak it in. It really is a balm.
Would you permit me to pray for you? Father God, YAHWEH, Abba Daddy, Lover of my soul, You are awesome. Amazing actually. You are King of Kings and Lord so lords. You are the Creator of all things, all beings. You are the One who calls the stars out by name every night. Every night. You know my name. You know the reader of this letter's name. You alone are worthy of my worship. I thank You for suffering. Yes, thank You. Because it has taught me so much more about about You. I have come to know that You are a compassionate God. A God of mercy and grace. A God of love. A God Who is willing to do what it takes to make us more like Your Son. And for that I am forever grateful. YAHWEH, I come on behalf of my new friend. I stand before Your throne and ask that You would make Yourself known in a new way to him or her. I'm not a miracle seeker, looking for a magic bullet, or any other thing. I am longing to see You in all circumstances. To know that You are real. Would You show Yourself real? Today? Would You meet my friend in a new place? No one understands like You do. No one has the capacity to truly be there for us in an affliction. But You do. Can you meet my lonely, misunderstood, tired, weary and at times, hopeless friend? Can You speak life into his or her life? Can You speak JESUS into them? Holy Spirit, I ask that You would pray with groans that words cannot express. I ask Jesus, that You would intercede on behalf of a hurting soul. Jesus, You live to intercede for Your children. I thank You so much for dying that we might live and now being at the right hand of the Father all You talk about is us. And how much You love us. So, I lay my friend at Your very capable feet. Please have Your way. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.