I’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile, and its one that I believe many Christians avoid. Not because we don’t all walk through seasons like this, but because many of us are afraid to admit it.
If you were raised like I was then you might have heard the term, “fake it till you make it” or “put your big girl panties on and deal with it”. And while I believe there is some validity to those statements I think the worst thing we can do when walking through a painful season is to close ourselves off from Godly counsel and God himself.
At the end of October of 2015 I was put into a situation that made my life for the next 9 months very unsettling and unstable. I was angry. I was hurt. I was confused. I was devastated. I was fearful. It felt as if the world I had carefully constructed had fallen down around me just like the walls of Jericho…only I wasn’t feeling victorious. BUT…you’ll notice I said “I had carefully constructed”. I am a firm believer that although God does not cause evil in our lives, He allows it for our good and his glory according to Romans 8:28.
Anyway…the night I received that news I was scheduled to serve at my church’s Halloween outreach. I cried the entire way there and was still crying when I entered the church. Let me stop here and express how thankful I am for my church…many people loved on me, hugged me, and prayed over me that night and in the coming months.
That night I was in the room monitoring the game “Hungry Hippos”. All I wanted to do was be the one to start and stop the music for the game. One friend in particular let me have my several hours of the on the outskirts serving, but then she pushed me (literally) into the middle of the game we were monitoring with the kids. And do you know…I needed to push my own pain and hurt aside and serve…and in the midst of that and the coming 9 months I learned some things about serving…especially when you’re in pain.
1. God honors our service
I could have chosen to skip serving that night…most people probably wouldn’t have blamed me, but I did it anyway. I showed up to be a blessing to others. Oh, trust me…its not because I’m amazing or because I’m super spiritual. I just knew I needed to be with people that loved me and supported me and could lift my arms when I couldn’t seem to. And do you know…that very next day I received an answer to prayer for the situation I found myself in. I truly believe that God would have provided whether I had served or not, however I tried to honor Him in my service, and He longs to take care of His children.
2. Serving changes who I am
Serving takes the focus of me and puts it onto others. I forget that I am hurting (at least for a bit), I forget that I have needs that need to be met, I forget about my pain and focus on someone else. Even when Jesus was tired or hungry He had compassion on the crowds…He took care of them (feeding of the 5 thousand). I am convinced that Jesus does His best work when we are in such a painful place, and we choose to serve His people…His precious daughters and sons whom He loves just as much as He loves us. My parents always taught me that when I am hurting to pray for others instead of myself…I learned so much more about myself and the character of God in those 9 months than I had in the year prior to that.
Jesus leads us and that can be in several different places as Psalm 23 suggests…the valley of the shadow of death, the still waters, or to lie down in green pastures. Those are all vastly different places…BUT it says Jesus is there in the midst of us. He is incapable of forgetting about his children. Isaiah 49:16 says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..” Jesus is there…and because He is there I can run to Him in the middle of pain, in the midst of the valley of shadow of death and HE IS THERE!!! And because He is there, I know I am safe. And because I know I am safe I can take my eyes off my pain and turn my eyes towards helping others.
DISCLAIMER….I am not saying this is easy…its a process, and I still don’t have it down pat.
3. Painful times are not about me…its about others seeing the greatness of Jesus in me
Nothing that I experience in this life is about me. Everything is about Jesus and people seeing Him at work in my life. When I can walk through a hurtful, devastating, painful season and still have joy, peace, strength, and to serve with a smile on my face that has NOTHING to do with me. That has EVERYTHING to do with the Jesus on the inside of me! It says in Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;” I could not have continued to serve, let alone with a smile on my face if I didn’t have faith in Jesus. God is faithful…it says in Philippians 1:6 that “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” That is powerful…Jesus will do it…I just have to be faithful to do as He has asked. People…a hurt, lost, hurting, hopeless, dying world needs to see Christians living in joy no matter our circumstances. They need our testimony…they need to hear what the Jesus on the inside of us has carried us through!
In conclusion…I realize that there are many people that have suffered far worse times in their lives than I have. However, may I humbly suggest that you go to the Lord in the middle of your pain and ask how He would use you. It may be to provide a meal for a new mom, it may to greet at the door of your church, it may be to clean out your closet and give it to goodwill, or it may be to provide school supplies to a classroom in need.
I promise you that God is with you. He sees your tears. He is for you. But, I also promise you that you will gain so much when you can set aside your pain and serve someone else. God has a funny way of meeting needs you didn’t even know you had while you are serving.