2 Corinthians 1:4 – Who Comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
When walking the road of pain, we come upon those we know. We stop and look deeply into their eyes. Just beneath the surface, lays a mix of frustration along with sympathy.
They want to see us:
It’s hard for them when we can’t seem to find relief. So what do we do?
We all carry pain around with us, as we walk down the road of life. Let’s sit down together and share openly what’s going on. Let’s be there for each other and try to understand what we’re each walking through. Because when we help someone else:
Also, our suffering can be used to help others. Here are some ideas from yourfamilyexpert.com in their article, “The Secret Way Suffering Helps Us to Help Others.” One way is when we’ve made a bad choice in the past we can lift a voice of warning against addition, abuse, impulsiveness, crime, and a variety of other choices, speaking from experience and influencing others to avoid our mistakes. Also, our pain helps us to be more compassionate and tenderhearted towards others who suffer, which in turn leads to some of the most joyous and satisfying relationships of our lives.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. In this we see the good that can come from our suffering. For when we receive comfort from God, we can share that comfort with others. We don’t have to reach out to someone empty handed. No matter how much we are hurting, there’s someone who is reaching out their hands with hope of finding someone who will take the time and reach out to them. Let’s take our sorrows and turn them into stepping stones of comfort and renewal.
2 Timothy 2:20 - In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.
Did you know that all of us are a vessel? Some vessels are made of fine gold, while others are made of clear glass. Gold is stronger than glass when a gold vessel is made, but the clear glass vessel can also become strong.
And here’s how that might happen:
At first you’re just an ordinary glass vase. It’s good to hold flowers from a garden or those sent from someone who’s in love. The recipient accepts the vase, and are proud of it, so they put it up on the mantle for all to see.
Later, they go to a store nearby and buy a different vessel. This one is round and is used to eat cereal out of in the morning. It’s made of glass, but not a particularily special glass. But it still does the job it was made to do. And, when it’s made, the glass is thicker than that of a vase, because glass bowls can sometimes find themselves knocked over onto the floor. No worries. It doesn’t break and lives to be used at breakfast another day.
That night, they open a cupboard and pull out yet another vessel. This one is a plate. Some plates in the cupboard are plain and made of simple glass, but others are delicately embossed with roses and tulips with gold paint covering its edges. The decorated plates are not always used, but brought out only for special occasions.
Then it happens – as they reach for a delicate, china plate it slips out of their hands and crashes when it hits the floor. What a loss. They sweep up the pieces and take them to the trash, because the plate isn’t good for anything. Or is it?
Do you ever feel like that shattered plate? Do you think that nothing good can possibly become of you because of the circumstances of you life?
Thoughtcatalog.com has some ideas on putting your life back together and becoming more than just an ordinary vessel, in their article, “26 Ways to Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken,” such as taking a course that teaches you something new. What we know changes the landscape of who we are. Also, learn to walk away from situations that are holding you back; break away from what you’ve known.
Back to the illustration above – After the broken plate had been thrown in the trash, the owner had second thoughts and so they dug through the trash and found all the broken pieces. The pieces were placed on a table next to them. They watched in amazement as the pieces were drawn together into a plate again.
Yet, I can’t do this and you can’t do this. But I know someone who can. God alone can put you back together again. And when he does, your vessel will be even stronger than before and much more than just ordinary.
Isaiah 40:29 - He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
During the last few weeks, since a wildfire consumed my mother’s home and community, it has felt as if my mother and our family have been running a marathon.
If you’ve never gone through a wildfire or other natural disaster then it may be difficult for you to understand what someone goes through.
My mother is more fortunate than others, because she has family to help her through it. And though we are ever grateful that she survived the wildfire, there has been an endless trail of paperwork to be completed for the insurance claim as well as applying for FEMA.
There has been canceling utilities and cable companies, changing her address to a P.O. Box and many other things which have to be taken care of. Just as she completed one part of the process another series of situations faced us.
It has been one thing after another and through it all, one thing surfaced: Exhaustion. Deep into your bones painful exhaustion.
My mom has been brave, but just as anyone who has survived a disaster would tell you, being on the edge of your seat in constant motion not only affects you emotionally but causes chronic health conditions to worsen.
In the midst of trying to complete all of the tasks required of the trauma victim, it’s important for them to take care of themselves. So how do we do that? Helpquide.org in their article, “Traumatic Stress – Dealing With Trauma After a Disaster or Disturbing Event,” provides traumatic stress signs and symptoms as well as suggestions on how to deal with it. Some of their ideas include realizing there’s no right or wrong way of dealing with it, avoiding obsessively reliving the event and reestablishing a new routine.
Though the life a trauma victim lived no longer exists, it is possible to create a new life and heal from the pain that was suffered. God is close by, also. Just as the Bible verse above says, he gives strength and increases the power of the weary and weak. He will also give them the wisdom they need to complete the tasks set before them. And remember, if you know someone who is a recent trauma victim; lend a helping hand and a listening ear. Healing and relief from exhaustion comes when we look out for each other.
Isaiah 51:3 – The LORD will surely comfort Zion and look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, here wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
It started with a car’s mechanical failure sparking a small fire.
But the fire didn’t stay small for long. It broke out into a ferocious fire storm; a literal fire tornado at one point. It ate everything in its path and soon it was reaching by handfuls into towns and the center of a city.
Who would think that a fire would reach downtown? Then the the firefighters had to let the fire go so that they could help with evacuations.
Those who had nowhere to go, rushed to evacuation centers. They had to leave their homes quickly and were unable to take many of their possessions.
Some heard about neighborhoods and businesses that were completely destroyed. People cried at the thought of having lost everything they had.
In a similar way those affected by floods and tornadoes face evacuation and the possibility of losing everything.
But had they lost everything?
No. Not if they still have what matters the most – their families. Families are the glue that will help you build a new future.
“What?” You may say. Yes, a tragedy can actually provide some positive changes in your life. It can be a time to reevaluate your priorities as you attempt to put the pieces of your life back together.
Yet, how do we actually do that? What steps do we take to restore out lives after a fire or other disaster? Take a look at the article on wikihow.com, “How to Put Your Life Back Together After a Fire.” Its suggestions include getting help from your community such as contacting disaster relief services, how to recover financially such as how to file an insurance claim, replacing your possessions such as documenting your losses, and recovering emotionally.
Having a disaster wipe away elements of your life can seem daunting. But remember that God can send you his comfort from within your ruins, as the Bible verse above speaks of. It also states that gladness and thanksgiving can be found. That may seem impossible at first, but when you remember that you haven’t lost everything if you still have your family it can give you the strength you need to move forward.
2 Timothy 2:3 - Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
No one would debate that soldiers face hardships every day, but those living with chronic pain or illness also face hardships.
There’s the hardship of knowing you’ll never be the same again.
There’s the hardship of having difficulty just doing ordinary tasks each day.
There’s the hardship of family not understanding you.
There’s the hardship of losing finances, because you can’t work anymore.
There’s the hardship of forgetfulness, because your pain takes up space in your thinking and leaves no room for much of anything else.
There’s the hardship of losing friendships, because they can’t stand to see you in so much pain so they drift away.
There’s the hardship of feeling like a failure.
There’s the hardship of your heart breaking into a thousand pieces, as you face the pain every and I mean every day.
This list seems daunting because it is. But each one of the hardships above can be turned around if you believe they can be:
Try to remember, each time you’re faced with difficulties, even while a bridge you used to cross has been taken down, you can take a leap of faith and find you didn’t need that bridge after all.
As the Bible verse above says, we are to endure our hardship like those soldiers around the world fighting for freedom. God will equip us to fight our battles and give us the encouragement and love we need to win back our freedom in spite of the pain or illness.
Read the article from lifehack.org titled, “5 Ways to Deal with Hardship and Pain in Life,” such as detaching yourself from the situation and accept the results and get back up again stronger.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.