Dark of Suffering

Article first published as The Dark of Suffering on Blogcritics.

“You have taken account of my wanderings;
         Put my tears in Your bottle 
         Are they not in Your book?”
Psalm 56:8
“Deep in the dark of the suffering soul comes a moment when nothing intellectual or psychological matters.”
Bill Bright. Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ
Pain is a process.  Anyone who has ever experienced some form of loss knows that the pain involved can be unbearable.  Life can turn into a dangerous roller coaster ride.  The ups and downs, loops and hills, can take you on a crazy ride. 
I have spent months reading.  Books on how to cope with loss, how to deal with depression, how to deal with divorce, how to deal with betrayal, how to trust and so on and so on and so on.  It has been never ending but I never found exactly what I was looking for.  Truth be told, I would always come back to the same book for my ultimate comfort.  My bible became my best friend.  It brought me peace in uncertain times and comfort through the tears.  
I realized as I read that God is aware of every hurt that I experience.  Whether it is of my own doing or caused by others, He keeps a record of every tear that I cry and hurt that my heart experiences.  However, when walking down the path filled with darkness, those things can easily be forgotten and hopelessness experienced. 
As I was reading one day, I found this acrostic written by Dr. David Zimmerman who leads grief seminars.
          Realize the Loss vs. Denying It
                    Goal: To be able to say by faith: “It happened.” Past tense.  No “do over.”
          Experience the Pain vs. Protesting It
                    Goal: To be able to admit by faith: “I hurt.”
          Let Time Help vs. Despairing
                    Goal: To be able to say by faith: “I need time.”
          Increase fellowship, Social Contact vs. Disconnecting in Isolation
                    Goal: To be able to say by faith: “I need help.”
          Evaluate Loss vs. Lingering in Depression
                    Goal: To be able to say by faith: “I will work” at learning from this.
          Face the Future with Hope vs. Merely Resigning to Loss
                    Goal: To be able to say by faith: “I will grow through this,” not merely saying, “I will go through this.”
As I read each of these, I began to realize that I had to learn to take one day at a time.  When dealing with pain, oftentimes people do not even know that you are hurting.  For me, I kept it hidden for many years.  I wore a smile and made excuses.  I kept my secret hidden.  
People on the outside cannot see what is happening on the inside.  They cannot see past the façade.  They are not God.  I had to learn, by faith, slowly to engage others in my situation.  When trust has been violated, this becomes very difficult. I went into every conversation with my guard up and my heart covered in armor.  I was not going to let anyone in or allow them too close.  Let me say from personal experience, this is NOT helpful.
In my defense, I had every right to my lack of trust but because I had the right, did not mean isolation was the correct solution.  For me in only sent me into a darker place and I became even lonelier.  It could have turned out ugly but instead, God used it for my good. 
When you are dealing with pain, the world appears blurry and life becomes unclear.  It leads me to a place where I began to examine everything in my life.  I began to search for the things that were unhealthy or harmful.  The results that I discovered were unnerving and difficult to accept. God wanted to clean house.  He needed to clean house.  I was afraid. 
As I was reading my bible one day, I reached the story in Matthew when Jesus was talking to his disciples about the upcoming events and His impending death.  While talking to the disciples, Peter begins to rebuke Jesus, telling Him “this shall never happen.”   The response of Jesus was, “Get behind Me,  Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:23)  I paused.  I reread.  I read again.  I experienced an AHA moment. 
Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Get behind me Satan!”.  Peter was not Satan but his words amounted to a spiritual/satanic attack on God’s will for Jesus.  Peter’s statement to Jesus was critical in spirit.  I sat back and meditated over those words for a moment.  Just because someone walks with the Lord does not mean that every word that escapes his or her mouth is of the Lord.  What a revelation!  How many times had I questioned myself about what I felt God was putting on my heart because a “pastor” said it?  WAY TOO MANY.  I am not alone.  I discovered there are many who doubt God because someone “of the faith” has told them differently.   
Satan can and WILL use fellow believers to discourage us.  Every believer is guilty of sin.  Every believer is capable of speaking from a prideful place that is not of God. WOW.  Read that paragraph again.  Take it in.  Ponder it.  People are not God.  Not every word that escapes from the mouth of someone is necessarily a “word from God”.  
Once I accepted this as truth, the healing process began.  I realized that in order to deal with the pain, I needed to avoid any source that brings discouragement, condemnation or accusation in order to heal.  I had to choose to hold fast to Truth and stand firm choosing not to fight.  Instead, I had to avoid the discouragers and allow God ultimately to be my defender. 

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