When Life Rages At Us, What Do We Tell Our Souls?

Teardrop RoseWriting about suffering takes me out of my comfort zone. To be blunt, I don’t really think I’ve actually suffered.

It may strike you as strange that I would make such a statement.  Ironically, as I’ve tried to type this paragraph, my body locked itself in a muscle spasm, preventing me from repositioning my wheelchair so that I could reach my keyboard’s space bar without straining my back. People who have watched me go through migraines, endure folks who assume I’m intellectually disabled or know how frustrated I am with my speech defect would probably insist that I suffer quite a bit.

They forget that I don’t live in a Third World country. I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach and clothes on my back. My new power wheelchair both tilts (to redistribute pressure and minimize sores) and reclines (to help my breathing). John and I each own a computer. My computer has several editions of two digital art programs. Disabled people in Third World countries can’t begin to imagine the advantages that I take for granted.

So I come to today’s blog post feeling totally unqualified to write about suffering. And yet, reading the Psalms these past few days compels me to extend encouragement to those who feel overwhelmed by COVID-19 and its multiple implications. Just because I don’t regard myself as someone who suffers doesn’t negate very real suffering that some of you actually face.

Many of the Psalms portray deep suffering, describing it in vivid detail. Let’s look, for example, at Psalm 42:

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

42 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God. (ESV)

Obviously, the author of this psalm felt incredibly deep distress.  Tears were his food. His enemies closed in on him. His trials were as relentless as ocean breakers. And worst of all, he felt as if God had abandoned him.

Maybe you’ve experienced similar feelings as a result of the current Corona virus. Maybe you’re reading this post from a hospital bed, wondering if you will ever see your family and friends again. Maybe you’ve received a telephone call from the hospital, saying your loved one didn’t make it.

Or maybe you’ve lost your job. If so, you undoubtedly face mounting bills and have trouble feeding your family. Your future seems bleak, and you just don’t see how God will take care of you. To be honest (though you’d never admit it aloud), you feel as if He has turned His back on you.

So you well understand the despair that the psalmist expressed in Psalm 42.

Because you understand his despair, I want you to also consider his hope. Notice how he  keeps reminding himself to hope in the very God Who he feels has forsaken him.  What remarkable faith in the midst of suffering! Few people maintain that sort of attitude when they go through hard times.

This pandemic tests the faith of even the strongest Christians. But in your suffering, ask your soul why it is downcast within you. Then — without waiting for an answer — remind it to hope in God.

 

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One thought on “When Life Rages At Us, What Do We Tell Our Souls?

  1. Hi DebbieLynne,
    I’m sure you get this a lot but you have been such an inspiration to me. I just recently found your page and immediately I have saved it to my book marks. I feel so petty to share my triak as you seem to be in such high spirits despite your own circumstances or past events that have been difficult. How do you do it? I’m amazed and at the same time deeply encouraged because if you can do it and the same God lives in me and that means I can do it too!! Though I feel despair and disappointed I will remind my soul to put my hope in a Sovereign God. May God’s grace continuously shine over you and your husband. Please pray for me my name is Natasha, thank you 🙂

    Like

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