The red digits on my alarm clock blazed 3:40 a.m. Nearly two hours had passed since I woke.
“God, help me, please,” I moaned. “You created our bodies to need sleep, so please let me sleep.” Another hour passed. During that time, I wrestled with my attitude. Angry thoughts simmered, stirred by pain and exhaustion, spiced with a pinch of self-pity.
Nearly 12 weeks prior, I’d suffered injuries to both legs
First my left Achilles tendon partially ruptured, landing me in a knee-high cast with no weight-bearing allowed for three months. Several days later, the opposite knee developed issues that required surgery and left me unable to use crutches.
Wheelchair bound, I’d learned to hoist myself backwards up 15 stairs every night to reach my bedroom. I’d learned to be okay with my forced confinement, with accepting others’ help with meals and housecleaning, and even with having others empty my commode.
Adapting my lifestyle and dealing with pain was doable, but insomnia nearly sent me over the brink. My husband provided strong support, but then ministry required him to travel overseas for two weeks while I remained at home. He’d been away for nine days when that night — and for the first time since my initial injury — despair threatened to swallow me whole. It might have succeeded had God not spoken clearly to me the next morning through His word.
Tears blurred my eyes as I read Psalm 77: 1 – 20. “I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! I think of the good old days long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and think about the difference now…” —Psalm 77:3 – 6
The psalmist’s experience echoed mine, it seemed
Knowing someone else felt the same way greatly encouraged me. But then his focus turned and he began to praise:
“…I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you?” —Psalm 77:11 – 13
He ended with the declaration, “When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths .… Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters — a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds” —Psalm 77:16, Psalm 77:19 – 20
I spent the next hour pondering this passage and journaling my thoughts. The truth renewed me inwardly and restored my hope.
Three insights, especially, impressed me then and have returned to mind often in the days since:
1. Pain is common to mankind. When we’re in pain, it’s easy to think we’re the only ones hurting. That’s so false. Numerous suffering women came into my life during the months following my injuries. Some were relatives; others were strangers who stumbled across my website. Hearing their stories encouraged me to look beyond my own needs. I couldn’t help them physically, but I prayed on their behalf — especially in the midst of my sleepless nights.
2. Praise empowers us. The psalmist poured out his heart to God, and then he began praising Him for His holy ways and strong arm. Wise move. Focusing on God’s character rather than our circumstances reminds us that He’s able to strengthen us today and provide hope for tomorrow. It’s a strong weapon designed to defeat the enemy of discouragement.
3. Providence leads us through difficulty’s deep waters. God doesn’t plop us in a dinghy and shove us away from the shore. Neither does He push us from behind. Rather, He leads the way. And He does so on a path that He knows is there.
Pain is an evitable part of life. Despair often lurks close behind, but we can escape its grasp. God’s word reminds us of His presence and promises, and therein lies hope.
Leave a comment!
What Scriptures do you cling to in times of pain and struggle?
Read more by Grace Fox: