Day 15 – March 11

It’s Wednesday, and we’re halfway through the second full week of Lent. My name is Gina, and today I’m meeting with you again for our daily scripture reading, reflection and prayer.

Theme: We are never alone in our pain

Scripture: Psalm 31: 9-16

Reflection

Negative emotions take a toll on us over time. Every person at some time experiences this: we find ourselves in the seemingly never-ending grip of grief and loss; of depression and anxiety; of terror or fear; of desperation to escape a situation of suffering, and no matter what we do, we cannot find that escape. As Maria, a Nazarene church leader in Hungary has said, suffering begets even more suffering. We suffer because of difficulties in our life, and then we begin to suffer because we are suffering.

These emotions take a toll on our bodies, as indicated when the writer says:

my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.

We become plagued with stomach problems; headaches; sleep loss and other kinds of physical pain or biological malfunction.

Worse, the Psalmist describes the isolation many of us feel when these negative emotions continue on for long periods of time. If people around us don’t understand how we feel or why, or are burdened by our pain, some may start to avoid us or spend less time with us.

We may also isolate ourselves because we don’t want to burden others with our grief, fear, or pain, or because we don’t know how to talk about it.

Sometimes, we may feel blamed or responsible for whatever is happening that is making us feel bad. We bend under the additional weight of guilt or shame that is heaped onto our already impossible mountain of distress.

What I like about this Psalm, first, is that we learn none of us is the first or only person ever to feel alone in our pain. If those around us don’t understand or don’t sit with us patiently in our pain, we can find companionship in the Bible, where MANY of God’s people give us their uncensored stories of despair and isolation.

We also quickly recognize that God does not leave us alone in our times of sadness, fear or pain. We can turn to Him for companionship, for comfort, and to help carry some of the weight of our feelings.

When others close to us might wish we would hurry up and get over “it,” God, Who is outside of all time, has infinite patience. His perfect wisdom knows how long we need to move through our sorrow, and He gives us that time. When others don’t know how to help us, or try to help us in ways that don’t help, God knows just what we need.

And best of all, He will never leave our side, not for a second. There are times we may not sense His presence, but it doesn’t mean He isn’t with us. He will grieve with us when something or someone has died; He will hold us tightly when we’re afraid; He will sit beside us when we have anxiety attacks or bouts of depression. He will understand the physical pain for which we can find no cure or relief. He will hurt as we hurt.

Sometimes, God chooses to be near us through other people. But if there is no one available, He will never leave us alone. He Himself is always with us.

Thanks be to our Suffering God for suffering with us when we suffer, and never leaving us alone.

Reflection questions

  1. Have you ever experienced pain that made you feel isolated and alone? Was it because others didn’t understand, weren’t helpful, or because you withdrew from people to suffer alone? What difference does it make to know that God is always with us and understands our suffering?
  2. Have you ever struggled to understand or know how to respond effectively to someone else’s pain? In the future, how could you bring your patient and comforting presence to someone who just needs to not be alone in their pain?
  3. How can you turn to God for comfort and presence in the midst of your suffering?

Let’s pray.

Prayer

Our Father,

Thank you for drawing close to us in our suffering, even when we may not sense You and wonder where You are. We trust Your promise that You don’t leave us alone, ever, and especially not when we’re in pain. Thank You that You even use times of struggle to help us grow.

As we experience low times and sad times, develop in us compassion and empathy for others’ pain, and help us learn how to most effectively walk with them patiently and gently in their times of suffering, too.

We trust you and praise you no matter what is happening to us, even if we don’t feel like it.

We pray this in the powerful name of Jesus,

Amen.

Conclusion

The additional scripture readings for today are from:

Jeremiah 18:1–11,18–20

Matthew 20:17–28

Watch a sermon and testimony of Maria Gusztin about suffering.

Read a story about a woman in Nepal who felt alone in her suffering, but discovered she was not truly alone.

Let’s meet here again tomorrow to pray and study God’s word again!

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