Do you ever feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or simply exhausted with life? Not long ago, I did.
The Cares of This World
I had taken Jon, my son with disabilities, to three doctor appointments. Each appointment lasted more than two hours and ended with the recommendation that we see other specialists.
There was a list of things I needed to take care of for Jon, and I thought I was nearing the end of that list. At the same time, though, I had fallen behind on several pressing work projects, we got hit with an unexpected financial emergency, and I needed to see my spine surgeon for ongoing pain.
As I opened the door to leave the doctor’s office with Jon, a blast of sweltering summer heat blew in. It took all of five seconds for sweat to start dripping off our faces. Heat is never helpful when I’m on edge or Jon’s in pain.
The ride home was a balancing act of us trying not to blister our legs on the seats, of me steering with one finger, and Jon trying to find a comfortable position to rest his head.
I would love to tell you something miraculous happened when we got home. I hear stories from people who, on their worst days, experience God plopping a little piece of heaven into their day, reminding them He’s not gone on vacation.
You’ve heard similar stories too, I’m sure. I have friends who have told me that when they hit rock bottom, the phone rang unexpectedly with great news or they received a bouquet of flowers surprisingly or they received an anonymous note with money tucked inside.
Nothing super-spectacular but nice enough to fill peoples’ heavy hearts and help them through the day with a sense of peace.
That wasn’t our experience. I finished the day picking up dog poop in 100-degree weather, folding baskets of laundry, and rinsing Jon’s mouth to help fight infection after having his wisdom teeth removed the week before.
Depending on Myself
I used to believe perseverance was a lot like waiting in a storm shelter while a bad tornado passed over. Tornados billow up, blow through, and disrupt life for those caught in its path. It’s always messy and always causes damage, but ultimately things can be repaired and life rebuilt.
I used to believe if I did the right things as the storm passed—didn’t swear or throw a tantrum, helped others, and prayed hard—God would show up and settle the dust so I could easily repair the destruction. In other words, I expected the Lord to rescue and then reward as the storm moved on.
I have no idea where that belief was birthed, but I clung to it until it almost shredded my faith. Any belief that contains a partial truth can be deadly, especially when the storm involves pain and loss.
It is painful to see my son suffering and not be able to fix or change his daily experiences. There is loss when physical pain becomes unbearable, when friendships are not reconciled, when a loved one dies.
Believing our pain will always pass in this life is choosing to believe a lie and will mess you up far more than any earthly storm we can imagine.
As I drove home on that scorching day, I told myself I had to find a way to reframe how I live with my son’s challenges. Now, I don’t just pray for healing, I also pray for wisdom to face each day as God allows.
Having reflected on past beliefs and examined the truth about suffering in this life, I’m working on finding support moving forward. Support comes from others, and it comes from God’s Word.
Depending on God
The following passages tell the truth about what to remember, how to think, and how to endure suffering during and after it strikes. Take note of the human emotions mentioned as well as God’s promises.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the LORD, your God. (Isaiah 43:2–3)
Note: The passage doesn’t say “IF” you suffer . . . it says “WHEN” you suffer. In our humanity, we may feel like we will drown, we will be consumed, we will not survive. But God promises us He will be with us through it all.
What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. (Luke 6:22–23)
Note: Christ tells us people will “hate,” “exclude,” “mock,” and “curse” you. In following Christ, we will have relational discord and rejection and be hated. Expect that to be part of life. The response is to “be happy” because our hope is focused on heaven—not on being accepted or liked. Looking at other passages and how people who followed Christ were treated is exceptionally helpful.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7–10)
The human condition is one of fragility and weakness. We will have many troubles; be confused; and often be perplexed, hunted, and knocked down. We will suffer. This shouldn’t surprise us.
However, God promises that our troubles don’t have to crush us, drive us to despair, or leave us feeling abandoned. Why? Because God is with us. In all our suffering, Jesus understands because He suffered beyond what we have suffered or ever will suffer.
Let Me Hear from You
There’s no question that we all encounter seasons of feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and exhausted with life. Surviving these seasons requires us to reframe our perspective on perseverance and on enduring well.
That is only possible by turning to God’s Word, knowing the truth, planting it deep into our souls, and finding support when our human weakness surfaces.
If you are overwhelmed by life, please reach out for support here. Connect with those who understand, who will walk with you, strengthen you, and remind you God is with you. As you endure, what passages have you relied upon?
I would love to hear your story, which will encourage me and will help others as they reframe their season of suffering. Let us know how we can help. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org today.
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