Why do Christians feel like we need to pretend everything is OK?
Why is it so hard to be vulnerable and ask those around us to lift us up in prayer?
To be honest, as I am writing this, I am hurting. I am sad. I want to sleep all the time. I feel like I have to put on a happy face for those around me, meanwhile, at night, I am sitting on the couch with a tub of cookie dough ice cream, wallowing in my sorrows while escaping through bad reality television.
I don’t want to burden anyone. I have to save face for my child. Sound familiar? It is exhausting.
That is what is going on in my world right now. In a series of events, my world was recently rocked and I was blindsided. But I have been too busy to process everything, and it’s easy to do that when you’re a single mom.
Now, however, here I sit, alone with my thoughts and my tub of ice cream to remind me of the events that have recently circled around me.
In the midst of my sorrow, people around me have had their share of tragedies too.
In the past couple of hours I have learned that a friend has a cancerous tumor the size of a large grapefruit, and another good friend’s brother just lost his 3-month-old baby. There was a suicide in the dorm on my old college campus.
As I sit in my living room, feeling sorry for myself, the infamous words ring through my brain:
“There is always someone worse-off than you.” It’s the honest truth, but that doesn’t make my pain go away. It doesn’t make the pain go away for myself, and it doesn’t make the pain go away from those around me. If anything, it only makes me feel guilty that I am feeling sad at all. In the midst of the chaos and self-pity, however God has finally set me down and He overwhelmed me with two words…Jehova RaphaJehova Rapha is Hebrew for “The God Who Sees.” In the midst of our pain, friends, God is there and He sees it. To God, there is no degree of who is feeling worse or who is worse-off, because we are His children and He sees our pain and loves us through it. This is a corrupted and sinful world, and sometimes it’s a struggle. Sometimes there are big struggles and sometimes there are small ones. I believe that our struggles are opportunities to throw ourselves into the overwhelming waves of God’s love and grace. Isaiah 49:16 says that God has us inscribed on the palm of his hand, and God is there to love us stronger.
There are two things we have to remember in the terms of our sorrows:
1. Everything, including our struggle, is temporary.
Jesus was very aware of the struggles of this world; He struggled during His time on this earth just as we do and we know that this sinful world is full of pain. What we learn from Jesus is that we need to be eternally-minded. We need to remember that God does see, and God is bigger than all of our struggles and all of our pain. Jesus guarantees suffering in this world, but he encourages us when He says:I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world. (John 16:33 HCSB). Jesus is our strength, friends. We are allowed to be weak because Jesus Christ is our strength.
Take heart, Jesus has overcome this sinful world! Even though we don’t always feel it, do not trust your feelings. Trust the Word of God. Dive into prayer, dive into scripture, and let yourself grieve.
2. Pray for one another.Honestly, I hate being a burden on my friends, I hate discussing my problems, and I hate displaying anything other than an encouraging, happy face. There is maybe a handful of people that even know when I am struggling. Don’t let that be an example.We can’t always fix the pain of others, and we can’t take away the situations that they are going through, but friends, prayer is more powerful than we tend to give it credit for.
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 HCSB)
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20 HCSB)
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” ( 1 Thesselonians 5:11 HCSB)
We don’t need to air our dirty laundry all the time, but we need to be real and let others pray for us, and we need to pray for others, as well. We need those trustworthy friends in our inner circles that we can call and simply say, “can you pray for me?” And we need to do the same for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As I end this, I have to confess that I have gone from sadness to feeling encouraged. God is a powerful God, and we can trust each other.
Will you pray for me? And how can I pray for you?
Be encouraged. God’s got it. It’s ok to not be ok.