SECOND: RESOURCES, OPENING MY EYES
TO SEE CHRONIC SUFFERING
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I wanted to pray but had no idea what to say,
as if struck dumb by my own pain.
Groans became the only language I could use,
if even that,
but I believed it was language enough for God to understand.
~Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, p43~
When the Lord put it on my heart a month or two ago to begin praying more for my friends who have particular chronic suffering (which I myself have experienced in particular, probably smaller, forms), I wanted to know how to find out more. I googled for a lot of things. I went back to some books that encouraged me in my own forms of suffering (like grief or depression) to see how they might (or might not) be pertinent for people with chronic pain, chronic illness, mental illness, etc. I read Scriptures, especially Psalms, with these friends on my heart. I wrote some prayers with them in mind. And most importantly, I asked questions. I emailed my friends (as that is the way I tend to communicate with the majority of people, but particularly with these friends), asking them questions about their suffering, about what they need, about what help they receive, about how their husbands & families & church bodies encourage them. I received a variety of responses, and getting those specific glimpses into the hearts of these women (yes, these are all women who I know with these chronic needs… and all but one are married… all but two have children to care for…) gave me particular insight into how their lives are effected by their various suffering, and how their hearts are both uplifted & downtrodden in turn.
Pain insists upon being attended to.
God whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks in our conscience,
but shouts in our pains:
it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
Please participate in this conversation, by considering these links and books, by sharing this with people you know who would be challenged or blessed by these things, by commenting here with questions or experiences or additional resources, and by praying for the Lord to work even in your own family to see where suffering is around you—in yourself, in your home, in your neighborhood, in your local church body—and ask Him to grant you whatever particular grace He needs to speak into your heart.
Do you need to humble yourself to receive more assistance? Do you need to embolden yourself to ask for more assistance? Do you need to lower your expectations for what kind of help you need, wisely discerning between needs and desires? Do you need to heighten the demands you put on yourself for seeing where your hands can labor, your prayers can bless, and your gifts can be showered? Ask the Lord to open your eyes and soften your heart in whatever direction would most glorify Him—and ask Him, then, for the strength and fortitude to follow Him with joy!
…We laughed, even me,
sincerely and happily,
but yet, I still ached in my soul.
~Ben Palpant, A Small Cup of Light, p97~
Soon I will share responses from the hearts of these women themselves. We will look at some Scriptures and meditate thereon. And then we will also hear, Lord willing, from a couple various church leaders for the perspective that comes on the side of sacrificial service and rallying the body of Christ toward love and good works. But today, let’s look at these links and browse these books—see what you can glean here, whether you are bed-ridden with illness or homebound with suffering, or whether you are strong & equipped to be serving hands filled with grace to those who are, or even whether your own current station in life doesn’t necessarily allow you (honestly) to lend time or finance to the suffering around you but at least to offer prayers and encouragement through words…
My prayer today is that the Lord would prick us by His Spirit, put our roots down amongst our family & church family, grow vibrant blossoms on our vines, and drop our fruit with abandon upon everyone around us. Amen.
One of Jesus’ early and great followers,
the apostle Paul, wrote once that
it is not what we have achieved
but what we are striving for that counts.
~Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, p91~
LINKS FOR THE SUFFERING & THOSE SERVING THE SUFFERING:
SUGGESTED BOOKS FOR VARIOUS TYPES OF (primarily longterm) SUFFERING:
A Cypress Will Grow by Amy Chai
A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada
A Reluctant Journey by Kristen Grathwol
A Small Cup of Light by Ben Palpant
Be Still, My Soul edited by Nancy Guthrie
Beyond Pain: Job, Jesus, and Joy by Maureen Pratt
Bound by Illness, Freed by Grace by Maureen Brady
Chronic Pain by Rob Prince
Chronic Resilience by Danea Horn
Coping With Chronic Illness by H. Norman Wright
Doing Well at Being Sick by Wendy Wallace
Empty by Cherie Hill
Fibromyalgia: God’s Grace for Chronic Pain Sufferers by Robert Smith
Healing Prayers by Lauren Wilder
Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie
Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts
Living Well With Chronic Illness by Richard Cheu
Mended by Angie Smith
Ministering to those in Chronic Pain by Susan Gerberding
Miserable Joy by Jason Nelson
Mosaic Moments by Lisa Copen
Pain and Providence by Joni Eareckson Tada
Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired by Paul Donoghue and Mary Siegel
Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine
Struck Down but Not Destroyed by Douglas Wiegand
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God edited by John Piper
The Beauty of Pain by Judy Dillard
The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts
The Loveliness of Christ by Samuel Rutherford
The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie
The Works of Ann Bradstreet by Ann Bradstreet
What if Your Blessings Came through Raindrops by Laura Story
When The Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper
You Don’t Look Sick by Joy Selak and Steven Overman
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~part of our series, Serving Those in The Church with Chronic Needs~
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