How very hard it can be to trust the Lord when we are in pain! It doesn’t matter whether the pain is physical, emotional or spiritual, it can be difficult to rest in God’s peace when the questions of “why?” and “when?” and “will He?” jab at our souls at every turn.

There was a time when I unequivocally said that I had the gift of faith. My ability to trust God went beyond myself — I just knew He was trustworthy and I could count on Him. That deep-down-in-your-spirit kind of knowing that you can’t really explain. That peace that surpasses all understanding.

Then life happened. Significant life. Significantly bad life. Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed. But in the midst of that blessed life, I experienced life circumstances that challenged the farthest reaches of my gift of faith.

I am on the recovery path from those circumstances. My path hasn’t been a straight one, by any means — I didn’t always do the right things — but I have learned some things along the way that might be helpful to others who are in the midst of “life.” In the following discussion, I continually use the word “healing.” Please realize that I am not necessarily talking about physical healing. If you have suffered a significant emotional blow, I mean emotional healing.

  • There probably is no straight path to healing. Expect that you’ll take two steps forward and then fall back a step. Over time, the number of steps you move forward will begin to outweigh your backwards steps at a much greater ratio.That might mean measuring your progress in terms of months at first instead of weeks or days. Physical issues demonstrate this well — for the common cold, people expect to feel a little better each day, but recovery from abdominal surgery might take six weeks, and recovery from a stroke might take six months. When recovering from the surgery or stroke, you won’t sense that any healing has taken place on a daily basis. For those more significant setbacks in life, don’t even try to measure your progress toward healing on a daily basis — measure your progress in weeks or months.So don’t think of your goal as being past your current circumstances. Make your goal to move closer toward healing each week. Your ultimate goal is to be healed, but work toward the smaller goals and celebrate those incremental victories. There was a time when I said to my husband “I haven’t been angry for a week.” That was a step in my healing that took several months to achieve. It was worth celebrating.
  • Don’t let setbacks discourage you. Don’t live in them. Don’t overly coddle yourself. Accept them as reality, set aside the disappointment, and continue moving forward. There is so much to be learned from the physical realm here: I am always shocked by the fourth day of a cold. Colds typically run something like this for me:     Day 1 — feel yucky
         Day 2 — feel like I’m going to die, or wish I would
         Day 3 — I’m amazed at how good I feel, Praise God that this cold was so short-lived
         Day 4 — feel only slightly better than I did on day 2 – what happened to yesterday?
         Day 5 — almost better
         Day 6 — back to normalThat’s the cycle that colds have run for me for the past 30 years. Yet each time I get a cold, I’m shocked at day 4. “How can I feel so bad when I was doing so well yesterday? I must be really sick!” Don’t be like me. Don’t be shocked by day 4. Don’t look forward to it, but don’t be shocked when you get hit by it and don’t be derailed by it. Set your discouragement aside and look toward tomorrow.
  • Have someone that you can confide in who will reassure you of God’s goodness and of His continued love for you. I needed this more than I could have imagined. I needed someone to say, “Sandy, this is an aberration in your life. God is still being faithful to you. He still loves you. He will still use you in His kingdom.” It greatly embarrasses me to admit that my faith wavered so much. Like I said, I was a woman of faith. I had the gift of faith. I had always been able to believe God for things that others couldn’t see. In the midst of my pain, though, I couldn’t even see the things He was doing right in front of my eyes. I needed regular encouragement. And throughout the long process, I was continually reminded that my strengths were not my strengths after all. Qualities that I considered to be my strengths were fractured and broken, teaching me that I didn’t “own” my strengths — that I couldn’t sustain them, but that they were loaned to me by God and were sustained by Him alone.Notice that I wrote “have someone.” It is not healthy to go over your story again and again, even though that may be what you want to do. Have one person that you trust to whom you can pour out your heart and reveal your fears, and with whom you can celebrate your successes.
  • The body requires rest to heal itself, whether from physical or emotional issues. Sleep often and don’t beat yourself up about it. Quit being superwoman or superman for awhile — drop some of your activities so that you have plenty of time to rest.
  • Consider the importance of play! Be sure your schedule includes some things that bring you joy. Whether dancing or drawing, watching a movie or playing with the dog, be sure you take time for these things. You need the positive endorphins that your body releases when you are enjoying yourself. Make time for it.
  • Be proactive about spending time with friends — probably in short duration at first, but be careful not to shut yourself off completely. The tendency when we feel pain is to draw back. If the pain is emotional, that means withdrawing from those who love us. Work hard not to do this.
  • Don’t rely on your emotions. Your friends are still your friends, God still hears you and He still loves you, those closest to you still love you. Your world is not closing in on you. It may feel like it, but your emotions are not reality.
  • Practice kindness and forgiveness in situations where kindness and forgiveness are easy. No matter what healing you need, forgiveness will play a part. You may need to forgive someone who hurt you, you may need to forgive yourself for past decisions or actions, and you may even need to forgive God. That doesn’t mean that God sinned against you. He didn’t. However, you may be laying things at His feet that cause you to be angry with Him. The process of releasing that anger is for you to forgive God for allowing you to go through the circumstances you’re in.
  • In your heart, you will need to recognize that God’s ways are above your ways and that He is accomplishing His purposes through whatever has happened to you. But during that process, you may need to say, “Lord, forgive me.” ….. Grow your forgiveness muscle by forgiving all the little things that need to be forgiven. Some day you’ll be able to forgive the big things, too.I’ve learned that wounded people bruise easily. I caught myself becoming quite angry frequently during the process of healing. My latent anger turned into impatience at those around me. I needed to practice regular forgiveness for little things during that time. For example, a person who said something unkind offended me when in my “normal life” it wouldn’t have even registered. I needed to forgive her. The people around me in the grocery store all seemed more incompetent than they used to be. No, I was just less patient. I needed to confess that sin to God and extend kindness to every one of them.
  • Don’t forsake God. Stay in church. Find a new church if you need to. Continue to read Scripture regularly, even if it’s just a few verses at a time. Continue to pray, even if you feel like your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling. Do those activities that make you feel closest to God. For me that’s worship; for some, it’s study, and for others it’s service. Feed your soul. Your pain will rob it of it’s stored energy, so feed it often.

This blog has been a long time in coming. This morning during my devotions I read a verse that finally prompted me to write it:

8“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
            Isaiah 55:8-10, NLT

God is bigger than my pain. He always has been and always will be. His ways take my pain and turn it into a golden treasure. I am not yet at the point of seeing that treasure, but if there’s a progression from pain to treasure of clay, to treasure of silver, to treasure of gold, I would guess that I am somewhere between clay and silver. For that I am very thankful.

God may choose to heal you instantly. Rejoice! Praise Him! I know He can and often does heal instantly. He also allows us to journey through the healing process so that we learn to trust Him more and are able to help others through their healing process. I learned much about myself and God during my healing process. Some of the things I learned were things I didn’t want to know — how very weak and fragile I really am. But then God’s probably been trying to teach me that for years! 🙂

4 Responses to “Recovering from the Circumstances of Life”
  1. Lisa says:

    Once again, very timely and very wise! You rock!

  2. Sandy says:

    Thanks for the encouragement & for being such a faithful reader!

  3. Hi Sandy, WOW, WOW, WOW. I needed that, It was great and im going to share with some of my sisters in the Lord. My life has been turned upside down in the past week. And ive had tons of emotions not all good and not all bad. However you writings here are a confirmation from the Lord that all my friends and pastor have said to me in the past week.So thanks. And could you please pray for our son Phil he left home and we dont know where he his. Love Geri

  4. Sandy says:

    Hi Geri, So sorry to hear about Phil. “Lord, bring him home safely. Humble him. Help him to see how much You love him and his parents love him. Protect him. Draw him to Yourself. Put someone in his path who will be Christ to him.” We will pray. Keep me posted. Sandy

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