Heartache and Hope
by Amy Diller
We live in a world broken by sin. We see evidence of it on the news and hear the stories of other people – war, natural disasters, sickness, assault, financial trouble, job loss. It happens around us, but at the same time, we want to believe that kind of brokenness stays “out there.” We can’t imagine that kind of devastation and destruction knocking down the door to our home and our family. Until the day it does.
A decade ago, my husband and I faced an unexpected crisis. Both of our kids began struggling with severe mental health issues, including self-harm, suicidal ideations, gender questions, and abandoning the faith they were taught at home and at church. Depression and anxiety wreaked havoc in our home. We questioned the Lord’s goodness as we felt the terrible toll this crisis was taking on all of us. We couldn’t understand why our precious ones were being attacked. The pain was so great that it felt as if we were walking around with our skin inside out. Everything that touched us hurt.
As Christians, we want to believe our lives will be easy because of our faith in the Lord. Jesus stated the truth when He said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble.”
What we don’t always recognize in times of trouble is that we have an enemy who orchestrates evil all around us. We feel the consequences of it in the chaos of life.
In his book, War in the Wilderness: Fight for Your Family When Life Isn’t as It Should Be, Brian Haynes shares,
We are a constant reminder to Satan of the glory of the Most High God and his utter demise. He hates us and this is why he relentlessly attacks us in both general and specific ways. The Enemy desires human brokenness, disconnection from the truly loving God, destruction of marriage and family, and eternal damnation of our souls.
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do when your family is facing trouble is to fight. In the middle of chaos, we often see the battle as unwinnable. Life feels overwhelming and exhausting. When your children or you are experiencing extreme difficulty, it seems all too much to handle.
But being aware of Satan’s influence in the world alerts us to His plans to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Crisis feels like a battle because it is. But Jesus doesn’t leave us without hope, as He goes on to say in the rest of John 16:33, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” No matter how strong or deep the struggle, we can be certain that Jesus is greater and stronger than anything the Enemy uses against us.
Maybe you’re in the midst of a situation right now that you never expected to endure. You might be struggling just to keep your head above water. It can seem like answers are long in coming. You feel alone. Be encouraged that there are some things you can choose to do to help bring healing to your wounded heart.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Strong feelings accompany difficulty – anger, despair, hopelessness, fear, ambivalence, and grief. It is okay to feel these things; you are human. If you keep a journal, write about the very real and raw emotions you’re feeling or simply tell the Lord. Pour them out to Him even if your anger is directed toward God. Read the book of Psalms; you’ll often find David expressing exactly how he feels and then choosing to praise the Lord even though things are difficult. Like David, after you’ve given vent to your emotions, find one thing to thank the Lord for. Remember, God already knows what’s inside your heart, so you can be honest with Him. Nothing you can say will change His love for you.
Ask for Help
It seems like asking for help should be an easy thing to do. In some cases, you readily share with your friends what you’re going through. However, the instinct to pull away from people can take over because it seems too hard to put your pain into words, or you believe you can’t possibly share your struggle. The Enemy uses these things to keep you isolated and alone, but that is not God’s best for you. No matter how difficult it is, sharing with people you trust and asking for help is important. Let them take you out for coffee, bring a meal over, clean your house, run errands, or take care of yard work for you. Good friends want to help out of a heart filled with love and compassion. Allow them to bless you.
Give Yourself Grace
When your family faces times of trouble, you might start to play the blame game. You beat yourself up for not doing the “right” things to avoid a crisis. A lot of self-blame statements pile up. If I had been a better parent, my child wouldn’t be hurting. If I had been a better spouse, my marriage wouldn’t be in distress. If I had gone to the doctor sooner, the prognosis would be better. The Enemy loves it when your mind gets stuck in this loop, leaving you feeling tremendous amounts of guilt and shame, and it keeps you from turning to the Lord. Breaking out of the blame cycle means giving yourself the grace to see the reality of the situation and let the Lord show you the truth. Accept the grace God readily extends to you.
The Lord is still writing our family’s story. It’s been a long journey with plenty of ups and downs. We have shared our trials with close friends and family along the way. They help us fight the battle against the Enemy through continual prayers with us and for us. We still fall into seasons of blaming ourselves and not asking for help at times, but we’re learning to keep our minds focused on the Lord’s character through His word. We have experienced His provision of hope and peace when we’ve needed it most, and we hold on tightly to His promises while we wait.
I encourage you to cling to Jesus even when it seems like darkness is the only thing surrounding you. Place your situation in the hands of the Lord…every day, every minute, even every second if that’s all you can do. You are not alone. Not only are there others who can empathize with you because they’ve been there, you also have a God who hears every cry and sees every teardrop. He desires healing and wholeness for your family.
My prayer for you in difficult situations is Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”