Archive | April 2018

Psalms for the desert of suffering

4B8DD45E-C964-4386-8288-9E66B0F5789C

“O, God, You are my God: early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh faints for You, in a dry and thirsty land with no water.” Psalm 63:1

This is a bit of a personal update with hopefully a dose of encouragement and inspiration — not quite my usual post.

My girl and I have had a whirlwind few weeks. For one thing, we saw and photographed that saguaro cactus pictured above in Arizona after my loved one’s wedding. We’ve been “there and back again”.

And I am very happy to report that stroke symptoms (January) for my Dear One have reduced in a big way this month. I am careful to ask for continued prayer, though.

The surgery in February was fairly successful — big gratitude for that!

Our car seems to be running fairly smoothly after the deer-related car accident repairs in March, too. Shewie! And I almost forgot to mention the surprise engagement and wedding of a dear loved one which took us by storm this month!

Have any of you, my dear readers, dealt with post-stroke, post-op emotional PTSD?

I feel like that sort of PTSD hit us HARD for a while. I’ve been afraid to post for fear of “unloading” on you. My goal is to be an encouragement — to connect with other caregivers and even chronically ill in our struggles to keep our faces turned toward the Light of Life.

However, on the rebound of all of the extra health drama (above and beyond our normal dealings of four autoimmune diseases warring inside one frail body), we’ve ridden this huge emotional roller coaster.

My Dear One couldn’t fly out to the wedding due to severe edema and risk of another stroke. The pain levels, despite professional pain management, rage out of control at times.

How do you handle your suffering loved one who repeatedly lets you know they would just like to go Home? No, they’re not suicidal (they assure you), but could God just please take me Home NOW? I’m so, so done with the suffering and the pain.

As the primary listening ear, all I could find to say is —

You are so loved. You are cared for. There is a reason you are still here. I’m so very sorry for your pain. God knows and understands where I cannot.

Then I took my ugly tears  and cried out for help to the only One I knew would truly understand. I couldn’t even fully explain the depths of this agony to anyone. How do you describe this kind of pain?

Overloaded. Emotionally ripped apart. What’s a woman to do? It was way MORE than I could bear alone. I begged Him for help on my knees, or even just driving along. So many prayers. So many pleas for help between the unending moments of waiting.

F8226065-E248-4553-8D2C-A175390D7F79

“My soul waits in silence on God alone; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my refuge; I will not be greatly shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

The desert was a good place for me to visit — terrain I could relate to. There was a vast quiet. I needed that.

I could almost hear these verse from the Psalms spoken to me. A dry, weary land. The sign warned of no potable water in the Sonoran Reserve.  Me? I’m like that scrubby mesquite tree taking shelter by the rock.

However, better days, however brief, have come. The pain has eased a bit. Just enough to be bearable. (If you want to know what’s changed and actually helped, comment below with your email — I’ll chat privately via email.)

Some lovely surprises have come our way through church family and friends that have cheered my Dear One. A book or two is underway, penned by the sufferers. Mine is half-written and in much need of a good scrubbing and sprucing up before I send it out into a critical world.

If you’re in a desert place of suffering and pain, please, please don’t forget that you are never alone!

If I didn’t know the suffering Savior, how terrible this journey would be. “Despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from him…”

Outcast. Condemned. Alone.

Jesus Christ suffered, the Just for the unjust.  He promises to never, ever leave or forsake His own. He is with us in the desert.What a Lover and Friend!

Those promises are carrying me. Every. Single. Day.

Advertisements

Psalms of Deliverance for caregivers

chains

Deliverance from pride and selfishness

“Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your Word.” (Ps. 119:67) Living in the land of affliction and sorrow washes this world’s crud and dust out of your eyeballs. You begin to realize how vain and empty many of your pursuits are. It’s so easy to lose focus on God’s Word and what He desires for your life.

The world of the needy and broken, once perhaps invisible to you, tugs at your heart.  Christ’s commands are clear — don’t be oblivious to the prisoners, the ill-treated, the poor, the fatherless, and the widows!  This is the short version of the list.

Remember those who are in chains, as if imprisoned with them, and those who are ill treated, since you are also in the body. Hebrews 13:3
For the Music Director. A Psalm of David. Blessed are those who consider the poor; the Lord will deliver them in the day of trouble. Psalm 41:1
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

 Through our tears, we see the needs we never noticed before. The beauty of Christ and His love for the straying, the needy, and the broken — for those of His Bride living outside the covenant church community — shines in His Word.

Deliverance from depression and despair

The Psalms are chock-full of David’s many pleas for help in life’s struggles. Just start reading Psalms 3-7 for starters. The list is SO long. If I counted, the cries for help may account for more than 50% of the Psalms.

Life was so hard to face, that David even calls the LORD the “Lifter up of my head”.

Do you know what it’s like to not want to lift your head off of your pillow? I mean, you really, really don’t even want to get out of bed and face another day.

If you’ve never experienced this feeling, be grateful! Grief upon grief blindsided me with these feelings. Until then, I never understood what David meant describing the LORD as the “Lifter of my head.”

Perhaps your chronically ill spouse can describe these feelings in detail. Mine has. It’s a dark, deep pit that feels bottomless. No earthly hope of normal. No true recovery or semblance of wellness in sight. Prolonged pain, agony, and sorrow feel inescapable.

Yet, this week I’m delighting in my patches of daffodils and anticipation of a newborn niece.  I revel in the wonder of Heaven and Home, and those waiting for me just beyond this life. Feelings of joy gurgling out like a frozen stream melting in the spring sunshine — LORD, you amaze me!

I’m living proof that you can find JOY in God even in grief and sorrow (give yourself time, dear one.) Better yet, Jesus is LIVING proof that all the powers of death and hell cannot suppress our living Savior and His plan from eternity.

So many of the Psalms start in despair and end in praise! I highly encourage you to envelop yourself in this portion of God’s Word when your life is absolutely horrifically awful. That’s how David described his life at times, just sayin’.

The Fall and the Curse — we still smart and groan waiting for the final chapter and “Thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

 

Deliverance from the “strife of tongues”

My “survivor” friend who has lived through two beastly awful lung transplants said it best. Expect people to say stupid things when you’re hurting. It’s true.

We’re all born with the “tongue of fools” (see the Proverbs for a full description), and need the prayer, “teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” Social media proves this point. Every. Single. Minute.

Another friend, a young mother of four, is dealing with her young husband’s stage four cancer diagnosis.  As she put it, “the fixers” come out of the woodwork.

Let me clarify. Yes, yes, and YES! Please bend over backwards to help your friends suffering through illnesses and loss. Help with their needs in a hands-on way. Encourage them from the WORD, too.

But be gentle. Be humble. Be kind.

You cannot fathom every detail of their situation and know the best possible solution to their problems. It’s not even your job to “fix” their problems. Your health solution might work. Please don’t be offended if your friend decides to take another route.

Deliverance from evil (the evil within and the Evil One)

“You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of His devoted ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”

Evil within rears its ugly head in so many ways. Frustration and resentment of your suffering, anyone? WHY is a legitimate question, but not one that we are always going to get an answer for. Again, the Psalms show deliverance from despair to grateful praise, from fear to trust, from doubt to hope, and from sorrow to joy.

Jesus also prayed for His disciples and future generations of believers in John 17:

15″ I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

Deliverance from trouble

Trouble and illness are evil twins. They walk hand-in-hand. Sometimes you cannot even describe the troubles accurately to anyone. I’m so thankful for the intercession of the Holy Spirit who prays with us and for us before the Throne of Grace.

So many unintelligible prayers I’ve sent up saying, God, YOU alone know the depths of this trouble and have the keys to deliverance in Your hands. I can’t even figure out exactly what to ask for, except for this: please help!

“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah”
“In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”

Deliverance from false friends

“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me. “
While this is certainly a prophecy looking forward to Jesus and His crucifixion, it was also the experience of David.  His son Absalom tried to steal his kingdom right under his nose, and a portion of David’s friends defected to Absalom.  What a bitterly painful time in King David’s life!
Long-term chronic illness has a way of separating the “sheep from the goats”. An elderly music student of mine once told me, Honey, you only really get a few true friends in your life, and trouble will sort them out for you.

What is truly beautiful is when the family of God stands by you in suffering! David had faithful followers who fled with him and supported him in the wilderness, too.

Then you see the love of Jesus in the hands and feet of His church.  Some of our recent deliverance has come through the community of believers who have stepped up to help us in significant ways during our cancer battle and the stroke(s) that have followed.

Deliverance into our Eternal Home – “I Can Only Imagine”

Back to that conversation about “normal”. Chronic illness completely robs a life of many forms of normalcy.

So does being born with special needs. So does a serious car accident or other traumatic injury. Broken families, broken lives… will the sorrow never end?

sheep in a rocky pasture

How about this lovely word picture of the Good Shepherd finally leading His sheep to their Eternal Home?

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever.”

Many days this hope, this deliverance -going Home- is what holds our hearts together.