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If you're looking for more reflections to help you grasp God's purpose in your suffering, check out Hope When It Hurts: “Life hurts. We’re no strangers to this fact. It’s why we wrote this book. And not simply because life hurts, but because there’s hope even when it does.”
You are Immanuel, God With Us. This brings me such comfort, as I am hurting badly and need to know that you are near. This time of year is filled with gifts and the blessing of Christ coming into the world—but I can't help but grieve. I can't help but wish that all was well, or that I could run from the pain. All is not well. I am hurting.
My great comfort is that you see me and have provided for my deepest need; you’ve forgiven my sin and washed me white as snow. The grave offense that once kept me from you has been dealt with in Christ. Thank you, Father, that there is now no condemnation for me because of your Son, my Savior. I want to preach to my soul your salvation because this reminds me that you will not leave me or forsake me in my pain. You are with me, Immanuel. Even when it hurts. Help me to know this, to believe you.
Give me eyes to see you this Christmas in ways that I wouldn’t apart from the pain. Soften my heart to what you may be doing in the affliction, and humble me to what you want to change within me. You say that trials produce endurance, that endurance produces character, and that character produces hope. Lord, I cling to the hope that does not disappoint, asking that you would pour your love into my heart through the Holy Spirit. Help me experience more of you, and may the pain only make you more precious to me.
Your Holy Spirit is my Wonderful Counselor, and how I need him! My heart is wayward, and in the hurt I often give way to sin and can’t see clearly. When everything around me feels tumultuous, help me trust your peace, to rest in Christ who carries all of my burdens, calms my storms, and shepherds me. Speak to me through your Word of truth, and give me great delight in it. Counsel me with your eye upon me, and afterward receive me to glory.
You are Mighty God, great in glory and awesome in might! I am a jar of clay, limited, sinful, and weak. But you are my Potter! You intend to work your great strength through my weakness, and to show your power in my frailty. Where I am failing to trust you, help my unbelief. When I hate and resist my weaknesses, fill my heart with thanksgiving for how you display your greatness and glory through them. You are Almighty God, who raised Jesus from the grave; how much more will you make good of this battle I’m fighting?
Everlasting Father, show me what it means to cry out to you as your child. In the pain and confusion, it's easy to bottle things up, but I don't want to do that with you. I want to pour out my heart to you, to seek time alone with you in prayer. Give me more grace to see the pain as your loving discipline that you are using to train me in righteousness. Help me to love you more. Help me to trust you more. Make my faith like that of a little child, dependent and hope-filled.
Christ is indeed my Prince of Peace, and oh how I need his peace! You've reconciled me to yourself through him, and you've given me the Spirit who ministers your peace to my soul day by day. Forgive my resentment, anger, bitterness, numbness, and jealousy. Forgive me when I resist your sure peace in favor of being ruled by my emotions and circumstances. Lead my heart by the unshakeable promise of life with you now and eternity with you in glory.
It's so easy to turn inward, to get lost in the midst of my own pain. Please help me to see others in their pain, to know what words to say, to have the patience and grace to listen and love them well. Would you use my suffering this Christmas as a platform for your glory and gospel? Would you do far more with this pain that I could ever ask or imagine?
I love you Lord, and I desperately want to see and believe that you are loving me well through suffering, that it’s the refining fire of my hurt that makes me as pure gold before you, that you are with me even when it hurts. The cross of Christ, my Savior and Lord, is proof of this.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Kristen Wetherell is a writer, Bible teacher, and the content manager of Unlocking the Bible. She is the author, along with Sarah Walton, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). She blogs at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter. She and her husband, Brad, are members of The Orchard in Arlington Heights, Illinois.