Peace and Pain

Posted: November 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Peace is an abstract feeling and hard to describe, but you dephilippians_4_7_by_kc_lynne-d517uhtfinitely know if you have it or not. If you Google the word peace, you find it defined as “freedom from disturbance” or the “cessation of war or violence.” Some of the synonyms are tranquility, calm and restfulness.

If you ask random people to define the same word, most would say that it’s when everything is going well and there are no current issues that are clouding their minds. The younger a person’s age, the more like they are to associate peace with things going their way. A more mature person understands that peace can be shattered at anytime; therefore, they take moments of peace as they come, often in the simple things of life.

It’s human nature to desire peace. Lack of peace is what drives many to participate in unhealthy behaviors. There are myriads of ways people attempt to drown out their lack of peace. Most spend their lives trying to fill the emptiness and escape the uncomfortable feeling inside. Others never slow down long enough to determine if they even know what true peace is.

My definition of peace had always been related to not worrying. No matter what was happening, if I didn’t have something hanging over my head on my to-do list or I didn’t have that pit in my stomach regarding something that was happening, I felt peace.

Sometimes lack of peace is related to something I can control because of a sin issue. Through my Christian growth, I’ve learned to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit pricking my conscience. I can’t stand that feeling of conviction, but have grown to be thankful for it. It’s God’s protection and I have discovered it’s best to repent and submit quickly. His way is always better for me anyway.

Even when it’s not sin related, we know what it’s like when we have something heavy on our minds. It can keep us up at night or cause us to be distracted all day long. I’ve never met a mom who doesn’t have the tendency to worry about her kids, starting with teething and diaper rash all the way to who they will marry and whether it’s the right person at the right time. My understanding is that the worries about kids don’t end even when they are married. In fact, I know my parents still worry about me.

Worry itself boils down to a lack of trust. Every relationship is only as strong as its trust factor. It is the desire to be my own god and control (or think I can control) my life’s circumstances. It takes my eyes off of the Creator. The only one who really is in control.

When I struggle with worry, I know how to apply God’s Word, control my thoughts and apply His promises. Early in my adult life, I did a comprehensive Bible study on the subject and pretty much considered myself an expert. I’ve taught dozens of girls through the years all the worry verses and how to put them into practice. It’s a spiritual muscle I’ve been developing for a long time.

Three years ago when I was kept awake at night trying to wrap my brain around the fact that Patrick had a terminal disease, deep in my heart I knew this would be the ultimate test. Could I really apply those principles? Would I?

While it has been the most difficult and darkest season of my life, my weak spiritual muscles have strengthened immensely. The things/issues that I would have been anxious about in the past seem minuscule now. I’m not fearful of the future nor the unknown. While I still care about my children, I completely trust they are in God’s hands. He will allow what He knows is best for their lives.

The principles I learned to put into practice with the smaller problems of life really did translate over to the dramatic life and death struggle that came my way. This has not been an easy process and God knows the ugliness of my heart. I still have a long way to go. In fact, I embrace that this is an area I can never get lazy in. Progressive sanctification is just that….progressive. Never stagnant.

This has been the fiercest battle of my life. I’ve wrestled with God. It hasn’t been pretty. I’ve sprawled prostrate before God begging Him to change His plan; I’ve curled in the fetal position on the floor of my closet sobbing that I can’t make it; I’ve crawled into the back of my van in an empty parking lot and screamed at God. I’ve wanted to give in and say it doesn’t work; It’s not worth it and I quit.

But His Word does work. Christ is worth it. And He won’t let me quit.

My new definition of peace entails more than just the absence of worry; Yes that’s still a vital part. My trust with my God has deepened to a whole new level. I can’t be simultaneously filled with anxious thoughts and have my focus on God. I continually make a choice on where to direct my thoughts.

But there is another part of the equation that is new and different for me. Before in my peace, I didn’t have any pain. I would associate pain with that bad feeling that you are not supposed to have. Surely peace also meant “no pain,” because in my experience, pain meant something was wrong. Just get to the root, fix the problem and the pain will subside.

I now know differently. Some pain can’t be fixed. Some pain will never go away. It’s not because of sin—it’s not lack of trust. It enters your life and changes you.

Twenty-three months post the death of my husband and the path of grief is still the one I’m traveling.

But I can honestly say I am at peace. In my innermost being, I am not consumed with fear or worry. My God is carrying me through this valley. He has never left me. He never will.

He’s the same God who guided Joseph, Esther, David, Ruth, Daniel and Paul, to name just a few of the real people we read about in the Bible. Each of them had circumstances that didn’t make sense. They had pain, sorrow and unfair treatment. Yet they cried out to God. They walked with Him, even when they didn’t understand. They didn’t know their future, but they trusted in their God who did.

Peace and pain can co-exist. One does not negate the other. Pain does not mean lack of trust. Peace is not just lack of pain. They are not mutually exclusive.

Jesus is the ultimate example. Even on the cross, in his deepest turmoil and incomprehensible suffering, He was at peace knowing He was obeying His father’s will. He was doing that for me and for you. By His stripes we are healed.

My memories over the next several weeks will be painful ones as I remember the weeks leading up to Patrick’s death. His life and death are constantly on my mind.

But even in my pain, I do have peace that surpasses all understanding. The peace that only comes from God.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. Tim Vermilyea says:

    As always, Dena, the thoughts you put into written form have been a blessing. Thanks for the courage you display, by God’s grace, to keep following after Him. I’m sorry our paths didn’t cross at BBC – but my wife and I are blessed as you “get to know you” here on your blog.

  2. Dianne Stobbe says:

    Thank you for sharing your lessons, you have blessed me so much. My father died this summer and I share these words with my mother. Thanks for putting to paper your life lessons and being such a blessing to me and to countless others. praying.

  3. Noelle says:

    I am so thankful for you and am always blessed by your words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for sharing this beautifully written and heartfelt post. Thank you for pointing to Christ through it all and saturating us with the Word as we read what God has laid on your heart. We pray for you, Paige, and Parker daily. Know you are loved! Thank you for being obedient to the Holy Spirit and taking the mantel He has given you to minister to others who are grieving. Grace and peace to you! Noelle

    • Del Warbington says:

      Thank you Dena. I loved your heartfelt post. (All of your posts) I loved mostly what you said about peace and pain coexisting. I have found that to be true as well. In the storms of my life. I have just not found the words to express it. Thank you for putting it into words. May God richly bless you and comfort you over the coming weeks…

      Del

  4. Cheryl Murrish says:

    Thank you, Dena, for sharing in your journey of trust, pain, love, suffering, grief, hope, The God of all creation holds you fast. He Who calls the stars by name knows your heart’s cry and loves you with a passionate, everlasting love. You are indeed safe in the care of The Almighty Grapple with the pain while you rest in His Provision and look to the skies. With love, Cheryl and Dale

  5. Gordon Russell says:

    Amen!

  6. larry hait says:

    Dear Dena, no one can really understand the effect of emotional suffering and accompanying pain unless they go through it themselves, one can only sympathize. Your story, I believe that you maybe preparing some brethren in our assembly for future suffering, and some for their past suffering pointing us to our only hope Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1:3-5). Though we are Christians, we are still earthlings, but we have been set apart by God for a better home “The City of God)” (Heb 12:22-23).Dena thank you for your encouraging input on “Patrick’s Story” of your personal suffering and pain. Lord bless you as you serve Him.   Larry/Barb Hait (Psalm 73:25-26)

  7. Bridget says:

    Amazing words at a perfect time.

    • Dena know that I have not stop praying for you and your family. You are such a strong woman and I admire the way you are handling your grief. Continue to hold fast to God and His promises. Your story have been a blessing to me

  8. Amy Ayers says:

    Have you considered writing a book? Your thoughts and feelings could benefit SOOO many who are hurting/healing just like you.

  9. Sandy says:

    Dena – Thank you for sharing your gift of writing. Your thoughts are an encouragement to me as I have my times of finding peace in my struggle with fear.

  10. nannykramer says:

    I have never met you (at least not that I’m aware of), but I believe we have mutual friends. I found your blog via my friend, April Tidwell. I believe you recently commented on Tom Butler’s status, also. We were in grade school together in Tipton, Iowa. Perhaps you also know Sarah Heywood? It seems that you may also know Lori Yankee?

    I go to Altoona Baptist to church, attended Faith Baptist Bible College from 1982-1984, and my husband teaches at Faith.

    I haven’t been able to read all of your blog posts, but the ones I have read have encouraged me to think biblically and have helped me to have an idea of the journey you and my friends are on. Thank you for using the gift God has given you to communicate through the written word. He is being glorified. May you continue to seek Him, claim His sufficient grace, and let your light shine as His messenger. I am among those praying for you.

    In Christ, Sherry Newman

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