Illness Can Bring Splashes of Hell or Noticeable Gifts

“How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:1-2)

How long, Lord? Have you asked this question recently? A couple of months ago a man behind me in line at the dollar store started rubbing his temples and moaning. I asked him if he was okay and he said, “Yes, just tired. Someone young like yourself wouldn’t really understand that.” I told him that yes, I did understand; I hadn’t slept in three days due to an RA flare, but I had to pick up some milk and bread.

He responded with sympathy and said, “This is just hell, isn’t it? We are living in hell, aren’t we?” I smiled and said, “Oh, no, we are just living on earth. I believe in hell and it is much worse than this!”

This opened up a conversation that went for over five minutes as he asked me questions about who Jesus was (loudly enough that people 2 check stands over could hear!) As I left, I encouraged him to go to any church on Easter Sunday to hear the gospel message. My son looked at me and asked, “What was that all about?” (Then I had him pray with me in the car for the man.)

There are times when this life feels like we are living in hell. It feels like God has hidden His face from us, withdrawn, grown quiet. We may feel forgotten and we begin to wonder if we are going through hell. I like the country song that says, “If you’re going through hell, keep on going. . . Before the devil even knows your name.”

We are not living in hell. Even though the pain is extreme, as I once heard Joni Eareckson Tada describe it, these are just “splashes of hell.” Every now and then hell splashes up and seeps into parts of our lives here on earth. But earth is a place for sinners and where sin thrives. And that is why we have the glory of heaven to look forward to.

Try to avoid wrestling with your thoughts day after day, with sorrow in your heart. It is not the life God intends for you. You can feel those emotions, but don’t sit and marinate in them. Instead, I encourage you to join me this summer, celebrating the every day gifts we are given.

I am using the 1000 Gifts app/website, to record these and you will find them on my Facebook page (you can subscribe to my updates) or on Twitter as I post them each day; I am doing photos along with them.

I also have some Invisible Illness Week plans I will share soon, and #1000gifts is a great way to start this daily habit.

Prayer: God, I know that hell is a terrible place, but sometimes I just feel like I am getting splashed with discouragement, side effects, bad news, sufferings of loved ones, and it just keeps coming. Help me discover how to focus on positive things that You have given me, no matter how small, so my thoughts do not have time to wrestle. Amen.

About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.

You can now read this on your Kindle. Find out more at http://TodaysDevotionOnKindle.com

How do you focus on the blessing instead of the burdens? Share it with us and maybe someone else will find this way works for them too.

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3 thoughts on “Illness Can Bring Splashes of Hell or Noticeable Gifts

  1. Great post, Lisa – one we can all relate to but I also like that you included not only your own perspective but those wise words from Joni – only splashes of hell. Love that you had the opportunity in line at the store to sow some seeds into that man’s life.

    Hugs – Lynn

  2. I say Amen what Lynn says above. How thankful I am that God also gives us splashes of heaven.

    I have tried two different exercises recently that have helped me, at least temporarily, to focus on my blessings instead of my burdens. The first one involved writing down what I was able to accomplish each day for a couple of weeks. (I tend to think of what I didn’t get done!) It was really encouraging.

    The second one was to write down 100 blessings in my life. I didn’t do it all at one sitting – maybe three instead. And as I read them over, again i was amazed and lifted up. A friend suggested I read them out loud to maximize the benefits. I’ve looked at the Thousand Gifts website and think it’s a great idea even though I haven’t started on this yet.

    By the way, the picture is of my hubby, not me. We seem to struggle with getting the right pictures in the right places.

    Thanks Lisa! You’re a peach!

    • Always love to hear from you all and appreciate that you take the time to comment more than you may ever realize. Devotions are a wonderful way to keep our focus on the Lord while we each use our own stories of His works in our lives to encourage others. Love ya!

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