Finding Hope in Suffering

Finding Hope in Suffering

Writing to keep my mind off the dizzy side effects of this new medication seemed like a good idea. As with every good thing, there’s often a negative to deal with. You outweigh the risks with the benefits and hope and pray for the best.

The events of the last 18 months or so have taken a serious toll on my health and well-being. I’m sure I’m not alone. Anxiety is ramping up in epidemic proportions for many across the world. COVID-19, quarantine, isolation, fear, uncertainty, loss, confusion, and life set on a new normal has left many of us undone. Broken. Unable to feel steady as the shaking continues. Add to that any other stress or crisis within your family or inner circle and all of life feels suddenly upended. Out of control.

You may find yourself like me — lacking the immunity or emotional reserve to withstand the waves.

Your Body Keeps the Score, as Besssel Van Der Kolk has revealed. Mine was tracking well and high scores don’t win in this game.

Mine surfaced in severe back tension/inflammation, high blood pressure, and anxiety that rivaled all other seasons. To further complicate the triple threat, one of those could jump start the other one …and the next one …until the cycle was spinning so fast, the floor could drop out like that amusement park ride and you’re pinned to the wall–completely “un-amused” and unable to function.

Doctors, therapists, chiropractors and specialists can begin to feel like “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men … trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

The things that become you …

While wholeness and joy totally become you …Fighting through pain and/or anxiety becomes the daily manta. Most days, praying you have the fight in you to keep going becomes consuming. Reaching out to close family and friends who will storm the gates of heaven for you becomes crucial, and when your faith and resolve weakens, their faith and resolve becomes a life-line for support. This is the reality of what becomes you.

Talking to someone who will listen to you, give space and grace to ugly cry, and not give trite answers or shallow hope is life-giving.

Talking honestly with God about the frustrations in the waiting …the agoninzing …the tormenting anxiety …the uncertainties as to when — if ever — it will pass, is healthy and necessary. Asking for God to send you some form of encouragement for the day is not selfish. As someone with the gift of encouraging others, being able to let them pour into you — no matter how uncomfortable, vulnerable, or embarrassing — is the courageous thing to do.

My dear friend (and therapist) has reminded me to practice mindfulness. Something as simple as washing your hands can become a time of being mindful of the comfort of the warm soapy water on your hands and the processes we take for granted. Enjoying the choir of birds singing as I walk through the neighborhood and appreciating their anthem of hope is a reminder of the constant presence of God in nature that continues on no matter what is going on.

Celebrating the moments in the day when anxiety has calmed or the pain has eased is therapy in the moment and a reminder that there is hope. There is hope for healing or even living with a new normal that is manageable.

Perseverance

Waiting is agonizing when you’re in pain — physically or emotionally. There seems no end in sight. Asking God to help you persevere through the healing process has been my cry. I know in the depths of my heart that God is working on my behalf and on behalf of those in my family who are going through a dark valley. Persevering through the suffering is the hard part. Rehearsing the truth helps. Remembering how long it took you to get in this condition means it may take you as long to come out. Resting in the process –though long and arduous — is the only way. Stress and striving will only make everything worse and possibly make the process even longer.

God breathed these words through Paul …

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

I’m not always thrilled to read those words because I know that the “hope” he mentions doesn’t always come easily. Suffering. Perseverance. Character. These all come before true hope is experienced.

So today, I “walked by faith, not by sight.” All is not completely well …yet. Pain and anxiety and blood pressure numbers are still part of the picture. Several family members are deeply suffering or going through painful seasons. Life has not returned to a normal that I have envisioned but there have been more encouraging “moments” today than yesterday …glimpses of light in the darkness … new mercy for the waiting …hope in the suffering.

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Benjamin R Martin

    I’m here because of you
    Thank you for your life
    Your heart,
    Though heavy
    Is still
    Resting in chest
    You’ve given so much , now it’s time you give back to yourself

    1. Joy Waters Martin

      Thanks Ben. I love you so much. Ironically, I may be here because of you.

  2. Debora Smith

    Wow, Joy. Just reading in hushed silence.

Go for it! Leave a comment. :-)