I’m so discouraged. What can I do about it? (And a time-sensitive reminder.)
I didn’t want to get out of bed that morning. Sure, I had a long list of things that I should do. But nothing terribly urgent.
As I stayed in bed for a few more minutes, I felt the weight of discouragement from several sources, situations that, in themselves, could have been handled. Perhaps it was all the situations smooshed together like a soggy snowball that was getting me down. But mainly, I think it was that last discouragement I hadn’t been able to handle the day before.
It hadn’t been anything very big. But after days, weeks, months, and even years of my eyesight in decline—a far quicker decline than my retina specialist normally sees—I could not maintain my brave front any longer.
I was trying to do something simple on the computer. But in the last couple of months even simple has turned difficult. I was trying to use a website to fax lab results to my rheumatologist. I’ve used this fax service many times, but this time I kept getting error messages. I decided to start over because maybe my session had timed out.
That’s where I lost it. It should have been a simple matter to type in the URL again into the search box and hit the enter key. But I could not find the box to type in the URL. I walked to my husband’s office to ask him for help, but he was in a lengthy phone conversation with a former customer (former, because my husband is no2 retired). I went back to my computer and went on to the next item on my list.
Later as my husband prepared to leave for a meeting, I explained my problem. But in the explanation, I broke down in tears and frustration. It wasn’t merely frustration for what I could not do in that moment, but for all the things that were being stripped away from me—month by month and year by year. It was for feeling helpless. It was for being scared. It was for not knowing where all this would end. It was for not wanting to be blind. It was for life getting so much more difficult.
I didn’t want it to happen. But it was, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had been to the best doctors in the nation, taking the recommended supplements, and ate a healthy diet. But nothing stopped the decline.
About 12 years ago, I went through a very dark time. It was a time of deep loss, much deeper than losing my vision.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. About 8:00 pm, December 20, 2010, the phone rang. It was a Navy captain in Guam. “Your son is missing,“ he told us.
He went on to explain the situation. It was unbelievable that he was talking about our son who had just arrived in Guam about five days earlier to assume his duty on a fast-attack nuclear submarine. That night I slept little as cries to God and scriptures filled my mind.
The next morning as I sat at my desk to call my parents to tell them Nathan was missing, I glanced out our living room window and saw two men in Navy uniforms walking up our driveway.
I knew right then. Nathan was dead.
After calling my husband home from work, we met with the men. They said it was suicide.
The weeks and months that followed were filled with confusion, anger, blame, guilt, and sadness. So, so much sadness. I wondered how I could go on, how I could even breathe. Doing the simplest of tasks took all my effort.
Soon after the funeral, I started a daily ritual that became my life support. It kept me afloat in the raging whirlpool that threatened to pull me down. Each morning I picked a Bible verse that I would keep foremost in my mind for that day.
This accomplished two things. First, it pushed against the negative, confusing thoughts that wanted to bring me down. Thoughts like: “How could this have happened? What was Nathan doing that set the circumstances in motion that led to his death? Why didn’t I see this coming?”
The other thing the scriptures did for me was so surprising that I still marvel at it. Yes, scriptures gave me encouragement, hope, and truth. I expected that since I had a history of memorizing many passages and thinking on them at times during day and night. But after our son’s death, focusing on scripture day after day, a sense of joy infused my spirit. It was amazing and a precious gift from God.
Twelve years later, I am fighting a battle to trust God with my diminishing vision. Once again, I am grasping onto scripture each day. A verse or even a phrase from a verse to think on over and over in my mind when I am not actively thinking about other things. I must do it for I am in desperate need.
You may be in a battle as well. A battle to trust God through a dark time or deep loss or suffering. God’s truth is powerful and is there for you. It doesn’t cost anything except a desperate hunger to cling to God.
About a week ago, I started a list scriptures that I could chose from to think about for that day. Verses that encourage and sustain. The list is on my website (in the Bio section of the home page), and I will be adding to it from time to time.
Sometimes we need more than scripture or spiritual disciplines to get us through dark times. If needed, consult a trusted Christian counselor.
A quick reminder. My new book, The Place of Suffering: comfort and courage for the faith journey, is on sale for $6.99 (regular price $7.99). Since this blog is coming out late, I am extending the sale price throughl March 1. This 40 full-color page booklet is perfect as a thinking-of-you card. Its 18 short readings relate to suffering of various kinds. Beautiful, original watercolors by my cousin, Cherie Lamborn, fill the book.
If you are in a desperate place or want to prepare for a time you may be, and want to start focusing on scripture n each day, take a look at my list of verses. I would love to hear how that goes for you.