Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fear and Faith in the Face of Pain

It's been a rough year for some people around me. I've been thinking a lot about it lately and often find that writing helps me sort through it. I'm not even sure yet if I will post this publicly. 
A good friend of mine lost her dad this year extremely unexpectedly. Another good friend of my family was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Neither of them were prepared for the fight they've been experiencing the last several months. I don't think we're ever ready to fight like that. But they're fighting.

I've been having such a problem with guilt ever since finding out about both of them. How do you do enough for someone you love in those situations? How do you do anything? I feel like I tend to feel so overwhelmed and helpless and I have a tendency to retreat. My friend with pancreatic cancer doesn't live in Lexington, so just finding a way to visit her has been my struggle. I have such guilt for not being there. And then not being there, I tend to retreat from communication, which is so the wrong thing, but I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to be strong in that. Both of them have been so strong. Seeing them fight through this pain has been so humbling for me because I wonder if I would have that kind of fight. I tend to think that I wouldn't.

I also feel that my own pain feels so insignificant in comparison. I'm lying in my bed right now looking out my window and I'm just thinking about the fact that I have both my parents, my husband, my children, my brother. I have my health and so does my family. Part of me feels such a relief to know that's true when I see how quickly it can change. Another part of me feels guilt over the relief. Is that a strange thing to feel? Is it an inappropriate thing to admit?

I prayed last night that Jesus would just come back. I find mysef praying that more and more lately. I get overwhelmed with the world - and as someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, that overwhelming feeling is something I have to fight regularly. There's just so much pain. There's also so many wonderful things that God has given us that can hurt so bad when taken away. It's easy to feel hopeless.

I tend to have a couple of reactions to these feelings. I thought maybe I'd share if others are going through similar experiences. 

I visualize a lot. The verses in the Bible, like Psalm 61:3 that talk about God being a strong tower are always so helpful to me. 

NIV: For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
NLT: For you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
-Psalm 61:3

I also love the ones about the shelter of His wings. 

NLT: He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
-Psalm 91:4
I just have this picture of being hidden in Him. Of this battle going on around me, but it can't reach me because He has me sheltered. I don't know how to explain that. But it's comforting.
I also need music. Oh, I need music so badly in my life. I have to find songs that speak to me, because they tend to do so more than anything else. There are the ones that have been speaking to me in these situations lately...
Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies) by Chris Tomlin
 You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still

Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

I love that he talks about the shield and God fighting for us, but that troubles are still there. They don't go away - God just stays with us through them.

Blessings by Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
Aw man, this song. She goes on to talk about doubt and anger when we don't feel God near us, when we don't understand. And I have to admit so many times this year I've been angry and I've been confused and had so many questions for God! Why?? But this song kinda sets my thinking on a different path.
Your Hands by JJ Heller
I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away
... When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands
I went to a ladies night at church a while ago and the speaker told this story that I won't go into here, but the final word of it was "He never leaves me" and with the whole thing, it just stuck with me. It's stayed on my  mind ever since then. He never leaves me. 
I think my conclusion in these situations is that the biggest thing I can do for anyone I love is just be there. Is just say I love you & lift them up daily to the only One who really can do anything for them. It takes such faith to release my worry, anxiety, pain and fear to Him. But He really is the only true source of peace. I have to believe that He has a plan and that no matter how ill-equipped I may be to speak on His behalf to those I love when they are hurting, I also can take comfort in the fact that my inexperience cannot get in the way of His plan and His peace.
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