Reading Luke’s account of the crucifixion, I am struck anew by the horror and injustice of the scene: the almighty King bearing the weight of a crude wooden cross, inching His way toward death as onlookers mock and jeer. Nails pierce His flesh. Breath eludes His lungs. Darkness smothers His being as His Father turns His face away.

How could this be part of God’s plan—to wound and shame and kill His own beloved Son? Hours before the crucifixion, Jesus prayed in Gethsemane to be spared this. Yet God willed it, and the Son humbly surrendered.

Battling Lyme disease and its accompanying roller coaster of emotions was never part of my plan. But remembering what Christ suffered for my sake arouses in me feelings of awe and gratitude that soothe the festering wounds of hurt and fear.

While I don’t have a choice in what I face from day to day, I do have a choice in whether I’ll gladly share in Christ’s sufferings or resist and question every moment.

Just as “not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed,” (Josh. 21:45) I must trust in God’s faithful character and know that He has not failed me either.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I wake up every morning with a smile on my face! Most days I fight hard to see light through the darkness. But I’m learning (ever so slowly!) to appreciate the growth that comes from pain and suffering. Through this light momentary affliction that often feels anything but light and momentary I’ve learned much about myself and my Creator:

I am much more limited and helpless than I ever recognized or acknowledged. Jesus is stronger and more loving than I ever imagined or gave Him credit for.

There’s nothing like being stripped of energy and vitality in your prime to remind you how not in control you are. What I saw in myself as confidence, God saw as pride. What I called sacrifice and ministry, God called wrongly placed identity. He has turned me on end and is shaking out of me anything that keeps me from knowing I am loved by Him.

There are multiple writers and speakers I’ve come across whose words have pointed to Christ’s love and provided me with the perspective and hope I needed. Some of their works include:

Hope When It Hurts by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton
Kiss the Wave and Being There by Pastor Dave Furman
Bread For The Body, Hope For The Soul” and other articles by Lore Wilbert Ferguson
Searching for Spring by Christine Hoover
New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennett
Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis E. Johnson
“Go Away, Mara” and other articles at RefinedFamily.org
Enjoy by Trillia Newbell

I am prone to place myself in the center of the universe and forget there are others who are suffering. Jesus, the Creator of the universe, set aside His rights and gave up His life for a sin-sick people.

It’s easy when you’re suffering to become a navel-gazer and forget there’s a world of people out there with needs and heartache. By experiencing unanswered questions and unpredictable symptoms, God is gently teaching me to show the same compassion and grace to others that He has shown me.

A friend once told me that people are like icebergs. What you see is just the tip of what they’re feeling and experiencing inside. There is always, always more to a situation than what you know. God is willing to give us grace in our desperate and irrational moments. Let’s do the same for each other.

I’ve found that listening to music with Christ-centered lyrics is a great way to lift my spirits and turn my thoughts heavenward. Of course, there are plenty of fun pop songs that are great for lightening the mood as well, but there’s nothing like singing a prayer to the Lord when your heart is too full for words. A few songs that are especially meaningful to me are:

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting by Jean Sophia Pigott
We Will Feast in the House of Zion by Sandra McCracken
He Will Hold Me Fast by Ada R. Habershon
It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio G. Spafford
Good Shepherd of My Soul by Keith & Kristyn Getty
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty performed by Fernando Ortega

I am not the savior with the answer to everyone’s troubles. Jesus is the Savior and He has everything perfectly under control.

Trusting Jesus with my health and my dreams has been hard. Trusting Him with the health and dreams of loved ones is much harder. When I take things into my own hands instead of casting my cares on Jesus, anxiety and stress become my constant companions. Finding freedom comes in part from knowing and believing that this is all part of God’s plan—yes, even the hard and unexplainable—and that I can trust His purposes for me and those around me. The scriptures are full of verses to help calm our fears:

Psalm 4
Psalm 37
Psalm 73
Matthew 11:28-30
Romans 8
1 Peter 5:6-7

I am a frail, human being who needs to admit her needs and humbly ask for help. Jesus is all-sufficient, kind, and good. He will supply everything I need.

It’s humbling to ask for help, especially when you know you have nothing to offer in return. I think this is why I’ve been most encouraged by friends who consistently check in with me. If you’re currently in the role of caregiver or supportive friend, here’s a couple tips for helping the one in need:

Follow through on your offers to help.
It’s nice to know you’re being prayed for, but I can’t tell you how encouraging it is when a friend proves her genuineness through her actions.

Kind words are golden; a listening ear is priceless.
Be the friend willing to listen and comfort, not the one who sees everyone as a problem to solve.

Be careful not to rush to conclusions.
The way each person processes grief, chronic illness, or any form suffering is complicated and varied. Please don’t assume you understand how someone feels or why they’re facing a particular trial.

What I’ve shared here are lessons and reminders I’ve learned and relearned the hard way. The list could go on, because this is a school from which I’ll never graduate this side of heaven. Thankfully, though, God is a patient teacher. He doesn’t grow weary of me when I grow weary, or become irritated with me when I’m irritated. His love and grace are constant even on my worst days.

The truth is, even before physical symptoms sprang upon me, I’ve always been (and always will be) in need of God’s grace. The amazing part is, thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice at Calvary, God always does (and always will) provide His all-sufficient grace.

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