The Journey from Heartsick to Wholeness
Desperation, if directed properly, can be a beautiful thing.
The past four months have been some of the hardest in my life. There’s just something about chronic illness and pain that drains a person’s soul. I’ve faced chronic illnesses for many years now, but nothing like the past several months. And yet, strangely enough, I wouldn’t change any of it. There have been some of the most beautiful lessons, confirmations from God, and breakthroughs during these months.
Constant suffering will do one of two things: it will either cause one to become resentful and bitter, possibly blaming God, or it will cause a deeper desperation and faith in God. The first few months of this recent suffering my prayers could mostly be summed up with: ‘Why God?’ I was frustrated, discouraged, and disappointed that He wasn’t answering my prayers for relief and healing. Where was He? Why wasn’t He healing me and taking the pain away? Could He even hear me?
What I could not see at the time, was that He was in the process of healing my heart, strengthening and deepening my faith, and placing my feet on a firm foundation of Truth regardless of my circumstances. My desperation was made beautiful by His faithfulness to me during suffering. I certainly have not mastered having the perfect perspective or response during trials, but I have learned some priceless lessons over the past few months that I would not trade for anything.
Suffering Reveals the True Condition of the Heart.
There was something about this recent bout of suffering that caused me to examine myself more closely. The longer the pain continued, the more closely I looked. I began seeing unforgiveness I had been unaware of hiding in my heart. I saw areas where my faith was weak and circumstances in which I truly wasn’t trusting God. I also began to see places where my heart was sick, painful experiences of the past that I had not allowed God to mend. All of these things I would not have seen so quickly or clearly without the motivation of pain.
Certain Scriptures began to take on a new, more grounded meaning for me such as “Come to me all who are weary and I’ll give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), or “Consider it all joy when you face trials because you know the testing of your faith produces endurance, so that you may be mature and complete” (James 1:2-4).
Suffering Reveals and can Root us in God’s faithfulness.
We can know God is true because of what we read in the Bible. We believe because we have faith that what is written is true. However, when faced with a valley of pain and suffering, God has a way of confirming His Word to us which produces an unshakable firm foundation. I don’t just know God is faithful in suffering because I read it. I now KNOW His faithfulness to me during pain because I lived it. My foundation is unshakable because He confirmed the Word to me.
This is why knowing the Word is vital. I would never have been able to place my feet on this firm foundation in the midst of great pain had I not previously hidden His Word in my heart.
“…So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” 1 Peter 5:10b NLT
Suffering can provoke a deeper pursuit of God.
Prolonged pain can also serve as a breakthrough from the mundane. We’ve all been there, continuing with Quiet Time even when it has become something we just do out of obedience. However, there is also great beauty in desperately throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus and onto His Word. In suffering, my pursuit of Him became less of duty and obedience, and much more of desperation. My pain may have left me feeling undone, but that was exactly where I needed to be.
It would take me far too long to tell you all of the little ways in which the Lord confirmed Himself, His Word, His presence with me, and His faithfulness. I have been left utterly in awe. Never in my life have there been so many truly supernatural ways in which He has been faithful. With each continued act of faithfulness from God, my faith grew. I can confidently say my God is with me! He has strengthened me and upheld me with His righteous right hand. My feet are firmly planted on a foundation of truth. My suffering, in which my enemy intended to destroy my faith, has done the opposite. I have drawn near to my God and He rescued me from my enemies! Hallelujah!
|Tiffany Layton lives with her husband Lex in Alabama and graduated with a degree in theology from the University of Mobile in 2011. She now serves on staff at her church leading worship, and small groups, and as the church administrator. She loves fall, coffee, songwriting, and staying organized!