My dear friend, Rachel, and I met less than one year ago, but I feel like I’ve known her for much longer because of our shared struggle with chronic pain and the shared hope we have in Christ. Here’s Rachel’s story:
Physical pain abruptly invaded my life nearly two and a half years ago. Scared out my mind that first night in the hospital, I cried out for the first time, “God, in your mercy, please heal me.”
For many months, this became my daily prayer of desperation, but God seemed to allow everything except healing. I relentlessly sought medical answers, but my symptoms only compounded as every treatment I endured left me worse off than before. When it became evident that my condition would be chronic, shame and guilt engulfed my spirit as I struggled to comprehend that I may never get better. All I wanted to do was hide. I did not even know who I was anymore. God felt anything but merciful.
Over time, God in His mercy has relieved some of my physical pain and renewed me spiritually and emotionally as well. I am grateful to have regained a semblance of a normal life in many ways, though pain is not a distant memory. I recently experienced a new symptom that was debilitating and unleashed renewed fear in my spirit. There is something about a pain flare or a new symptom that sends my mind racing back to memories of the darkest and most traumatic days of my illness.
Right Where I Need to Be
Late at night, as my swirling thoughts hindered sleep, I pulled out Hope When It Hurts and read Chapter 11, “Coming to the End of Yourself.” It pointed me to Psalm 13 and reminded me that God wants me near to Him and dependent on Him. If this new pain brings me toward that place of surrender and away from self-sufficiency, then I am right where I need to be. But I need not fear because God is endless and has everything I lack.
I recall many difficult days when I did not know where to turn in my Bible or have any words left to pray. Though there were fragments of the hope of the gospel in my heart, they were often overpowered by the sting of pain and sorrow. Oh, how my heart would have benefited from a resource such as Hope When It Hurts on those days. It is full of scriptural truths that will encourage and challenge anyone whose hope is thwarted by sorrow or pain.
Months of frequenting doctors’ offices and online support groups opened my eyes to this world of chronic pain and illness. My heart aches for the many suffering people who readily admit to feeling misunderstood, lonely, and weary. This is why I am deeply grateful that Hope When It Hurts clearly and compassionately portrays the promise of hope in Christ in this very place of hopelessness.
I Am Not Alone
Sarah and Kristen write with a tenderness and vulnerability that is uniquely powerful because they know weakness and pain all too well. I hear my own cries echoed throughout these pages and this gives me the priceless gift of knowing that I am not alone in the battle.
I know I will repeatedly come back to the words in this book because I need the constant reminder that no matter how I feel or what happens to me, Jesus is enough. He has been faithful before, and He will be faithful again. As much as I hope there is more physical healing ahead for me, I rest assured in my eternal hope that God, in His mercy, saved me.
We can easily be defined by our pain and view everything else, including the mercy God gives us, through its dim prism; rather than defining ourselves by God’s mercy, and seeing all else in that glorious light. (Page 97)
Learn more about Hope When It Hurts, releasing April 1!