Isaiah 54:10 - “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
She limped down the hallway keeping her head down for she didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone. How could this have happened to a believer in Jesus? This wasn’t supposed to happen. If only I’d had enough faith, she thought. But she didn’t know at the time that she was judging herself. No one else would be cruel enough to do so in such a deep way. But she pulled her cloak of shame tighter around her body as she headed for the door. Do you feel this way when you go out in public? Having a disability, whether it’s one that visible or invisible, can leave the afflicted one with serious doubts about themselves. They also can feel like they’re being punished. But God would not be so cruel as to punish us when we do something wrong. God is always ready to forgive a broken heart. He sees our hearts and knows that we are human. And humans can do things that are wrong. We must see that we live out the consequences for our actions, and that is a form of disciple, but God isn’t waiting to punish us. He is ready to offer us forgiveness and love us back into his arms.
Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
When people talk about an unpleasant situation, some can always find that silver lining. But the rest of us. Well. When something unpleasant is happening, we don’t just see the glass half empty. We can’t even see that a glass exists in the first place! No matter what may be happening, good or bad, the pessimist always looks at the bad and can’t believe that things will ever work out. A lot depends on our past experiences. As children, we learn quickly whether we’re one of the “cool” kids or someone that gets stomped on. The same can happen as an adult. People may mistreat you and reinforce that bad things are always going to happen to you, and rarely will something good. But that’s no way to live. God is all about giving us promises of his faithfulness and goodness. He tells us to keep our thoughts focused on the true and lovely. Granted, it’s not always possible to avoid seeing that everything looks bad. But only for that moment. That’s when we need to turn to God and see that he can be the true and lovely in our lives no matter what else is going on.
Job 12:13 - “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.”
Making decisions can be especially difficult for someone who is battling emotional pain. Sometimes in life we get lost. The way ahead is shrouded by the clouds of fear of failure and loss of direction. The way used to be so clear. But now. Now we’re just not sure. One path leads up a steep hill and climbing is difficult. Another leads down into a deep valley, with the grade being so sloped, that you easily lose your footing and tumble down a ravine. What’s a person to do? Maybe you could just sit still until somehow an easier way will make its way known. The hours tick by as you wait, but the clouds aren’t moving out of your way. When finding yourself in this position, there is only one solution: the Word of God. In it you’ll find people who also faced tough decisions, but when they consulted God he always came through and showed them the way. He will show you also, because the Bible is our GPS, and it never fails to bring us to our right destination.
Psalm 37:8 - Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil.
Many people when they are in situations they have no control over or when things go very wrong, experience strong emotions. Some display anger while others show worry. For me the worry and stress I try to hold inside sometimes turns into anger; except, my anger is not displayed to the world. It lives inside where the fire burns hot, but only a few puffs of smoke are released. Anger in itself is not bad. It can be just a display of boundaries that have been broken. This is quite normal. The trick is to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. It takes learning to be aware that your anger thermometer is rising. If you keep that anger from eating away at your day, week and sometimes for a lifetime then you can find peace even in the most heated situation. But we can’t do it on our own. We need to ask God to be our anger meter and alert us when we’re letting anger or worry build up. He can teach us to also be alert of anger other people are throwing our way. Let’s get out those thermometers and start to find ways to diffuse the anger or worry bomb.
Hebrews 12:1 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Every day we are being watched. Your neighbor next door. The cashier at the grocery store. The person sitting next to you at church. They all notice what you’re doing. Then there are all of those pesky cameras set up on street lights or attached to buildings and even the one on your computer. They all have their sights set on you. Does this make you feel paranoid? Do I mean for you to be paranoid about so many people watching you? Well, maybe just a little bit. You are an example to the world around you whether you want to be or not. What I want to be like is those I admire, and who have shown the world they have a lot to give no matter what their life looks like. Such as: Joni Eareckson Tada and the many women who go to my church that have Crohn’s Disease, liver disease and battling cancer. These individuals shine like the morning sun. To me they are part of the great cloud of witnesses that surround my life. They give me the strength to take that next step; putting one foot in front of the other and continue running with perseverance the race that God has marked out for me.
Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
All things are quiet now. You had a visit from a friend you hadn’t seen in a long time. It was good to see them. You laughed. You cried a little. You reminisced. You talked about the future. Then, she left. Why is it that you can feel lonelier after visiting with a friend than before the visit? I’m not quite sure, but I do know that you can be left with feeling empty inside. If you let it, the visit can become a big letdown. So what are your choices after this? Do you feel sorry for yourself? Do you regret that you don’t reach out more? But who’d really want to make multiple visits to your place when most of the time you hardly have the energy to even answer the door? A true friend. That’s right. A true friend would make the effort. But you have to grab a hold of God’s hand, and open the door to your friend. Your friends do want to see you. Why don’t you open that door?
Exodus 4:15-16 - You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.
Getting along with other people depends on our ability to communicate well. Our words, which we had good intentions on saying, sometimes turn upside down and cause strains in relationships. For example, it could be a friend let you down, or a co-worker was supposed to help you finish a project but didn’t. Each time that someone has let you down, you try to tell them that you’re not mad at them, you just want an explanation. Yet, they don’t receive it that way. They think they know what you’re thinking when they don’t. There must be a better way to communicate to others the right way and not in such a way as your words come out upside down. There’s someone who can help us with that. In the Bible, when Moses was told that God would be sending him to Pharaoh to tell him to let the Israelites go, Moses complained that his speech wasn’t eloquent. It made God angry because Moses didn’t trust God, but God still provided Moses’ brother, Aaron, to speak for him to the Israelites and Pharaoh. God will do the same for you. We just need to take a deep breath before speaking and ask God to help us use the right words when communicating. He might not send you someone to speak for you, but he can give you that quiet assurance that you aren’t alone, and he will help you communicate more effectively.
Isaiah 35:3 - Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way.
You’ve just gotten off work so you decide to visit your mom. You pull up and head out of your car towards the door when you notice it’s already opened. Your heart begins to beat rapidly as you hope something hasn’t happened to your mom. You enter your mom’s home and start calling her name. You hold your nose because it smells like something is burning. You call your mom’s name again, as you reach the stove and take off the burning pan. Searching from room-to-room you discover your mom watching TV in the living room; oblivious to what’s going on around her. It’s happened again. Your mom forgot that she had something cooking on the stove. She’s done this before, but not to this extent where the pan was burning. You also notice how cold it is in her home. Maybe because the door was left over, but you discover she’d turned off the heater. When a parent dies there is great sorrow. However, there is a different kind of loss when you lose a parent to dementia and slowly watch them deteriorate. Steps will have to be taken, you know, to get your mom help. It tears your heart apart. Then God steps into the room and puts his arm around your parent. You know it’s going to get harder, but you are comforted that God will strengthen her hands and steady her knees when she is unable to care for herself any more. He will also comfort us as we walk through this season of our parents’ life, and help us make the right decisions for our parent’s care.
Psalm 62:8 - Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Here I am sitting at my computer creating this post, and today I’m feeling a bit angry. Angry that my body hurts so much it’s hard to move. But did you know that it’s okay to sometimes be angry? It is a natural feeling to have when you see your body degrading as your health condition is trying to snatch away years of being able to do what we want to do. It’s also okay to sometimes be afraid; afraid of what the future will hold for you. Perhaps you can’t work anymore and you don’t know how your bills will be paid. It’s okay to sometimes stay at home and rest when you need to, because that way you might be able to do things that take a little more strength. Did you catch the words, “It’s okay sometimes”? I believe this is one of the keys to finding your way down the chronic health condition highway. Let that road lead you past anger and fear and onto trusting God with everything in your life including your feelings. He can handle your woes and give you his loving comfort.
Psalm 145:8-9 - The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
There it is again. Guilt. Yes, guilt. Guilt we feel because our chronic pain or illness causes us to no longer be able to do what we used to do. And, someone else has to pick up the slack. They have to do extra chores or even show up to family gatherings without us. Out comes the measuring spoon, no, out comes the soup ladle as I’m covered with a cloak of shame and guilt. Have you been there? If so then you know what I’m talking about. So what’s a person to do? We love our family and friends. Our hearts break to let people down. Thankfully God does not hold it against us when we must turn down an invitation to attend an event. If we ask him, he is quick to show us what we can and cannot do. He will never judge us. And we can ask God to help us cut ourselves some slack. But even if others don’t give us grace, God can help us drop that cloak of shame and guilt, and pick up his robe of compassion.
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.