Job 3:1-4 - After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: “May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born!’ That day--may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it.”
Living with a mental illness can cause us further condemnation when people treat you like it’s somehow your fault and you can “snap out of it”. Bitterness creeps into our souls and we wonder why we were even born. Something that may help us is realizing just how many people in the Bible battled this demon. Cain was angry to the point of murder. Saul was a mentally ill king. David battled depression. Jonah wanted to die. Jeremiah and Job wished they’d never been born. Find comfort, my friend, in knowing you’re not alone in this. And God will walk us through the dark valley and bring us hope of a better day.
2 Corinthians 12:18 – Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
There are many choices a person can make when treating chronic pain or illness. We’ve been diagnosed with another new issue, but we hope and pray that there will be a cure. So, we pray about it and ask others to do so. Then we schedule an appointment with our physician and they give us a referral to a new doctor. Our hopes run high as we think that perhaps this one will have a way to help us feel whole and be cured of our disease. But what if you see the doctor, believe God can use him to heal you, and nothing happens? You’re here. You’re nowhere. Your mind spends the rest of the day, unable to focus, still not believing what you heard. How could this have happened? Because even as the Apostle Paul experienced a “thorn in his flesh” we too may have to suffer. But our suffering doesn’t need to be spent asking “why” or trying to figure out if there’s yet another doctor we can see, or another procedure we can have or any number of ways to find that “cure.” We can use this illness to learn that God hasn’t given up on us. And he’s not trying to hurt us on purpose. He loves us more than we can know. And he has his arms ready to hold you through this storm.
1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Do you think that you can you catch another person’s stress like you can catch the flu? And the answer is – yes! Haven’t you ever noticed when someone you’re talking to is getting more and more stressed, as they recount to you how someone has wronged them and then you begin to get upset, also? Or how about when someone is worrying like crazy about something and starts telling you about it, and how you begin to worry like crazy about what’s going on in your life. Stress and worry are easy to pass on to someone else. It’s okay to tell others what’s stressing you out, but do so in a way that you’re not spending the entire conversation getting ramped up about your circumstances. Instead, tell them your circumstances and then focus the conversation on possible solutions, not just the problem. This will help the other person to have something concrete to work with. You both can weigh the pros and cons of the solutions. Then you take it to God in prayer, and he will bring you peace once more as he promises to. Your heart will become steadfast and the stress will get kicked out the door
Jeremiah 50:20 – “In those days, at that time,” declares the LORD, “search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare.”
Sometimes when you’ve been in pain or sick for a long time thoughts nag their way into your head saying, “This is your fault.” There are times when that can be true as when we overwork our bodies and we end up in pain and sick. But it’s not always our fault; in fact, most of the time it’s not our fault. It is also our fault, though, when we choose to focus so much on our pain that it leads us to guilty feelings. God can forgive us for any mistake we make, but it takes us asking for forgiveness and then turning away from continuing to make ourselves sick. For me, I worry a lot and worry can lead to stomach problems, headaches and lack of sleep. It’s my choice to worry. And that choice also leaves me feeling oppression and guilt. Yet, when I remember God’s promises it can help me remember that God never walks away from us, and will walk through the valley of guilt with us as well. God can cleanse us of our sin and the guilt of that sin. Won’t you throw your cares at Christ’s feet?
Joshua 23:14 - Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
This promise has two sides. Side one - God will always answer our prayer with the grace to endure any pain or illness. Yes, thankfully God is with us in our pain and answers our prayers with grace. But the second side is, this means I’m going to be living with the pain. I know in my heart God loves me. And, I’m not really angry at God, but somehow I struggle with being angry with my body. Why would my body betray me in this way? Why can’t it just leave me alone! But then I remember the first side – I can endure this. I can learn to live with this. I can be an example to others of God’s faithful comfort, but all of God’s promises come with something you have to do to receive it – walk it out. So take God’s hand and let him lead you even if the pain never goes away.
Matthew 6:22 - The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Your eyes are one of the most important organs of the body. They provide us with a view of our world and allow the world to see into our eyes and the pain or joy that’s inside our hearts. When living with chronic pain, one of the less mentioned areas is the eyes. Have you ever noticed when a tiny eyelash falls onto the eye, it causes the rest of your body to shout, “Get it off of me!” Our eyes are sensitive to touch, heat and light. Our eyes aren’t just our visual input system they can become a true source of chronic pain and disease. And most of the diseases are very painful. I live with a disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome. Many of you may know it as dry mouth, but did you know it also affects your throat, lungs and yes, your eyes. Even with treatment sometimes the eye pain still persists. This can be frustrating. God can help you with your frustration and pain. He can help you find the best way to help your eyes so that you can continue to use your eyes as your window to the world around you.
Galatians 6:2 - Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Okay. I know it’s hard. You wake up every morning and it’s the same pain you had yesterday. So you struggle through your day and walk around with a sad expression. Have you given up on life, or do you have the courage to find joy and live your life to the fullest? It is possible to live a rich life. Think of all the people you meet each day. They also walk around with some kind of pain or sorrow. Wouldn’t it be nice that when you walk past them you share a smile? Your smile may be the only one they see all day. And by giving that smile away you can find joy in that moment. String those moments together and you might just find yourself living life to the fullest. God can help you take that smile lying in wait inside you and bring joy to the world. Ready to give it a try?
Psalm 77:12 - I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head to the point that you can’t seem to shake it off? Well, with me if I’m not careful, my mind will play the same sad song over and over. Except, the song that’s stuck in my head is thoughts of the struggles I’m currently facing. Sometimes I wish that God had a way to pluck that sad song out of my head and replace it with a joyful noise. Oh, wait! He does replace the song with his Word, the Bible. When I’m struggling the most I find a Bible verse that talks about my struggle. It can be worry, fear, disappointment, pain or sorrow and they’re written right there for me to meditate on, especially in the Psalms. Then when that circumstance starts eating away at my peace, I can take that verse and push play on the tape recorder in my mind and watch the thoughts in my head get replaced with faith that God can take care of it all.
Luke 8:24 – The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided and all was calm
The wind is blowing hard outside today, as it has been with each of the last few storms. It howls and shakes and tempts to pull down the strongest of trees. We also are assaulted by howling winds in our lives. Sometimes that wind comes from a cruel statement, from someone who has no clue how much they’re risking your life falling down, by what they say. Some winds come from your job where you’re told you don’t have the muster to complete your daily work, and out the door you go. But some winds, the harshest winds, come from within yourself: Who am I to think I can beat this storm? Who am I to think I can measure up to this job? Who am I … The list goes on and on. Who you are is a child of the King and he is your protector. He closes his wings around you and says, “Just stay here until the storm passes.” Won’t you let him hold you? He waits to stand with you through the storms you face.
Psalm 30:5 - For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
I watch the clock as I lay awake on my bed. The pain flowing through my body shakes me and says, “I’m not going to let go!” Yet, God speaks to us in our affliction. He knows what we’re going through. Don’t lose heart my friend. Pain may keep you awake through the watches of the night, but what you don’t see is a loving Savior bent down on his knees watching over you. He cries to see you in such pain. He knows what it’s like. He suffered on the cross for us so that we could have someone who will never leave us. Don’t worry about what pain says to you. Pain may be keeping you awake, but God will raise you up in the morning with renewed belief that you’re never alone in your pain.
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.