The pain will subside. The joy will
abound. We will know the presence of
God's glory unlike we can even imagine.
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Even
the apostle Paul said, "For to
me, to live is Christ and to die is
gain," (Philippians 1:21). He too
was eager to see an end to his suffering
here on earth and spend eternity with
God. What I'm confronting here, however,
is not the blessed event of entering
His gates at His moment of appointment,
but the word that Christian leaders
are hesitant to confront - suicide.
I hear from a few people who are seriously
questioning why God would want them
to remain here on earth one more day.
And for each person that contacts me,
I wonder how many others are suffering
silently. What good could possibly come
of constant pain? How can He expect
us to continue to endure a future that
seems to hold nothing but disappointments,
sorrow and physical pain? We search
for an answer: Why is God allowing this
to happen and why shouldn't those with
chronic illness just end it all and
experience heaven a bit early?
is real faith in God but continuing
to believe in the face of everything
in life gone wrong?," writes Mark
Littleton in The Storm Within. "What
is true belief and trust in Christ,
but trusting Him and believing His Word
even when nothing has worked out? It
is easy to believe in Him when things
are going well, but under such circumstances
it is hard to see if the faith is real."
easily give logical thought-provoking,
"spiritual" explanations such
as the above, but answers that address
the aches of the heart are more difficult.
It is the eternal question of mankind:
If God is so good, why does he allow
me to hurt so bad? Why do bad things
happen to good people? From nearly the
beginning of time, Job confronted the
emotional turmoils of tragedies and
physical pain, despite being a righteous
man in the eyes of God.
is no answer to these questions that
can adequately be addressed in this
brief newsletter, but Rest Ministries
bookstore, The Comfort Zone, does have
some wonderful books that will give
you a chance to do some life-changing,
follow up reading.
let's address one small portion of this
topic. Whether you have seriously considered
suicide or have entertained the idea
of how to end your pain, I have two
points that I wish to share with you.
 Do not lose hope...
be tempted by that which Satan is throwing
in your face as an easy answer to end
your pain. Satan knows first hand that
physical pain is one of the greatest
afflictions in which to persuade you
to turn away from God, and from what
God desires in your life.
Job, for instance: Satan took Job's
children, his assets, his animals, everything
- and the honorable Job responded by
worshipping God. So what did Satan do
next, that he knew would be the last
straw for Job? "Satan went out
from the presence of the Lord and afflicted
Job with painful sores from the soles
of his feet to the top of his head,"
(Job 2:7). Job was so depressed his
first response was to take a piece of
(unclean) broken pottery and scrape
himself with it as he sat among the
ashes. (v. 8). Job's sounding pretty
depressed at this point, isn't he? One
could even say that he is feeling a
bit apathetic about whether he lives
or dies, since he is scraping himself
with pottery that could likely causing
of the most righteous men in God's eyes
is tempted to want to die because of
physical pain, acknowledge that your
feelings also need acknowledged! Although
God grieves your emotional pain, it
exists. You are not "less of a
Christian" or a hypocrite if you
have feelings of hopelessness. You are
and humans need God.
simply being tempted, as was Jesus.
"While we may feel separated from
[God], it is just that: a feeling. A
persistent perception of desolation
does not mean he has deserted us. But
it can feel that way, and intensely
so," (Littleton, p. 26). Jesus
spent forty days in the desert where
He was led by the Spirit, into the desert
to be tempted by the devil. [Matthew
4:1; Luke 4:2 emphasizes that he was
tempted all forty days.]
God led Him into the desert in order
to be tempted by Satan? Yes; but note
that during this entire time "angels
(Mark 1:13). Just as with Job and Jesus,
although you may be tempted, God has
provided the power to overcome the temptation;
"No temptation [will] seize you
except what is common to man. And God
is faithful; he will not let you be
tempted beyond what you can bear. But
when you are tempted, he will also provide
a way out so that you can stand up under
it," (1 Cor. 1:13).
dark moments of a sleepless, painful
night, shadows of temptation may dance
on your walls, encouraging you to take
a few extra pills and relieve the pain,
but angels are attending you. Before
the sun set to create this night of
desperation, God already knew that you
would encounter Satan's temptation,
and He said, "Satan can't harm
[put your name here]. He can tempt all
he wants, but I know that my child will
rely on my power and promises to overcome
it or I never would have allowed this."
And then for good measure, God send
a few angels to attend to you. Perhaps
a phone call will come. You'll look
over and see your Bible and pick it
up. You'll fall on your knees and cry
out to God one more time. You'll think
of loved ones that will find you and
whose lives will never be the same.
Angels are in your home attending to
you to help you overcome the temptation.
knows temptation. Satan's daybook had
forty days crossed out and the only
thing on that 'to do' list said, "tempt
Jesus." That was all he had planned.
And Jesus' calendar had forty days marked
out that said, "fast and pray."
I wouldn't be surprised if day forty-one
said "Eat!" Jesus was human
and, big surprise- he was hungry! (Matthew
4:2) Jesus was out there in the desert
with Satan on his back and I would guess
more than once he imagined just taking
a rock and turning it into an ice cream
cone, even a Popsicle. So what did Satan
use as His temptation? He talked about
food! Bread of all things; mouthwatering,
buttered, fresh from the oven, carbo-hydrated
comfort food, energy-producing bread!
The one thing he knew Jesus desired.
you desire? Healing? Release from the
pain? These are the things in which
Satan will tempt you with for his purpose.
If not suicide, then New Age pain clinics
that hypnotize you, call forth the spirits
to release your pain; quackery that
will strip you of your income. Even
well-meaning Christians get their theology
mixed up and tell you that you can't
serve God until you are healed.
did God allow Jesus to experience this
temptation? One of the reasons: "Because
he himself suffered when he was tempted,
he is able to help those who are being
tempted," (Hebrews 2:18). He understands!
Why are you experiencing it?
the reasons: because you will be able
to help those who are being tempted.
Most Christians that are in the depths
of despair know the Scriptures. They
know God loves them. But they just don't
want to "do life" anymore
with the terms that they've been handed.
heartily encourage you to seek professional
counsel if thoughts of ending it all
have entered your mind. This is vitally
important. I also encourage you to seek
out a friend, a spiritual mentor. It
doesn't have to be someone with the
same illness that you have. It doesn't
have to be someone in your same age
bracket, but seek someone who has suffered
with pain and depression and encourage
one another. No self-help book, New
Age guru, or trendy herb will encourage
you like a friend in Christ that you
can "get real with." If you're
searching for such a friend, ask your
pastor, call us or visit our website,
but most of all pray for such a friend.
Angels are attending you. God is in
control of every "coincidental"
meeting. I believe that He knows we
need a true, honest, vulnerable, call-in-the-middle-of-the-night,
aren't perfect (even Jesus' friends
couldn't stay awake!) but they make
the journey easier-sometimes even the
horrible, laughable. Why are Chevy Chase's
National Lampoon's Vacation movie series
so popular? Because we can relate! Someone
else has vacations that include kids
fighting in the backseat, car problems,
strange relatives, and closed amusement
parks. When my family drove four hours
out of the way to an amusement part
that was closed, my mom made us get
out of the car and take photos at the
gate and sign that said "closed
for renovations." We were disappointed,
but we laughed and sang the Wally World
song (from Vacation) for a few hours
on the return trip. The mishaps in life
are always more bearable (and even laughable)
with someone who has been there! Share
your feelings with a friend.
In a nutshell,
God is not finished with you yet. Jeremiah
29:11 says "'For I know the plans
I have for you,' declares the Lord,
'plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
God knows the appointed time that you
will come to Him in heaven. Do you really
want to interrupt His divine plan? Imagine
planning a huge birthday party celebration
for a friend. You've ordered the cake,
you have the decorations up, and you've
invited the loved ones to attend. The
big surprise is at 5 o'clock. When you
arrive at 5, however, your friend sits
there with cake all over his/her face,
the gifts unwrapped, the room a mess
and says, "You know, I came home
early and I just couldn't wait any longer
Magnify this to what God must feel when
you dare to disrespect and not fear
Him or the consequences, by messing
with the party He has planned for your
arrival in heaven.
Consider the possibility that your presence
here on earth is necessary for God's
work to be done in the lives of others.
we are quick to read the beginning verse
of Paul's feelings, Philippians 1:21,
but read on. "For to me, to live
is Christ and to die is gain
am torn between the two: I desire to
depart and be with Christ, which is
better by far; but it is more necessary
for you [the believers] that I remain
in the body." Read that again.
it is more necessary for the believers
Death, resulting in heaven, (for believers)
may be more comfortable, but it is more
necessary that we remain. In the book
When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada,
she confronts the issue of suffering
head on, without wavering from the tough
questions or how it emotionally feels,
despite what we know to be true. When
a friend questions Joni on why she should
hang on any longer, Joni points her
to Paul's writings. She tells her friend,
"You may think it's far better
to depart and be with Christ, but as
long as you remain in the body, your
family and friends have something to
learn. Think of the eternal importance."
you have shared with me how God has
used your illness as an instrument.
And some of you are stubborn in the
most positive way! Regardless of the
comments that believers throw your way,
the pain that you suffer daily, the
doctor's bleak predictions, you know
that as long as there is breath in you,
God is going to use you to glorify Him.
does this in many ways. One of which
is giving non-believers something to
ponder; if you can radiate joy, in the
midst of your circumstances, why is
their life falling apart because they
drive a Nissan, not a Volvo? But Paul
writes that his presence is necessary
for the believers. What? Aren't they
covered? You ask. You mean I have to
hang out in this turbulent world, without
a moment of aching joints and difficulty
breathing just to work on the hearts
of those who God has already dealt with?
What's with that? Can't they get it
together on their own without my suffering?
yes. Take the "me" and the
"I" out of it and focus on
God's reasoning. God has a purpose for
your life-right now, right here; the
ways that God can use our suffering
to mold us to make us more Christ-like
number beyond infinity. But despite
personal gain, imagine what the presence
of pain in your life can do for those
learn to become more patient, compassionate,
grateful and caring. The nurse wonders
why you glow with the Holy Spirit and
she can't seem to get motivated to go
to church. The person that sits behind
you in church thinks, Boy, he really
seems to be in a lot of pain, but he's
still here. I wonder what I would do
in that situation? I'm glad I know the
same God. A special poem that Joni E.
Tada received communicates this well.
brother watches a movie about someone
fighting against all odds to climb a
mountain, he may think, Wow, I should
have that kind of discipline and motivation.
When he goes to church, he looks around
and thinks, Gosh, I really should read
my Bible more. But when you arrive,
your presence, your spirit, and your
character, with God ingrained into each
part of your soul, can, through the
Holy Spirit, makes him desire to change,
not just think about change or casually
wish for change. Crabb mentions this
in his book Inside Out. "Some people
push me to do better by trying harder.
Others draw me out to be better by enticing
me with an indefinable quality about
their lives that seems to grow out of
an unusual relationship with Christ,
one that really means something
The difference is enormous."
a news show on television took a closer
look at what makes marriage work. One
family shared their list of goals which
included "Own a Lexus" (that
was checked off already) and "Visit
the Cartier store." (I'm betting
she won't leave empty-handed!) These
are society's values. But Jesus says
the meek are blessed, they will inherit
the earth and experience peace, (Matt.
5:5, Psa. 37:11). For He who is least
among you all--he is the greatest (Luke
9:48). That which we give Christ is
precious to Him because we must sacrifice
comfort (Mark 12:43). Proverbs 13:8
says, "A man's riches may ransom
his life, but a poor man hears no threat."
Those of us who have already lost that
which we once put great faith in-our
health-have no threat of losing it.
It is in God's hands.
face it: as a believer we know that
we will spend eternity in heaven with
Christ. We welcome relief from this
world. Basically, we are homesick, as
Paul likely was when he wrote "to
die is gain
this. Colossians 3:1 says, "Set
your heart on things above, where Christ
is seated at the right hand of God."
Homesickness is not a bad thing. We
should long for our real home. And this
world is not it! We will not find, nor
should we search, for true contentment.
Contrary to what many believe, earth
is not one big Disneyland; rather it
is a spiritual battlefield. We are soldiers
and we have scars.
writes, "We desire what we do not
have and cannot have until Christ returns
and restores everything, including ourselves,
to the way it was meant to be. Until
then, that intuitive awareness of trouble
that clouds our happiest moments is
on a basic truth about
life in a fallen world."
rely on this. We must take that grain
of mustard seed and hold it up and say,
"Lord, I am tired. My faith feels
weak. I don't understand, but if this
mustard seed can move a mountain, surely
this amount of faith can get me through
one more day."
set us up to believe that this world
would be easy. We've done that to ourselves.
Many of us Americans have lived in a
world where we get whatever we want.
Because our luxuries are large, our
God is small. When we lose our ease
in life, our perspective of God becomes
bigger. God never changes, but our perspective
of Him does. But He says, "In this
world you will have trouble. But take
heart! I have overcome the world,"
God is the ruler of your life.
God is the major pursuit of our lives,
all other pursuits are dead-end streets,
including trying to know ourselves,"
shares Charles Swindoll. "They
won't work. They won't satisfy. They
won't result in fulfillment. They won't
do for us what we think they're going
to do." Only God's Word will provide
us with peace, wisdom and the ability
to hang on one more day.. And then one
Give Up! There is Hope & Help
talk to someone now? Rest Ministries
heartily recommends the Christian counseling
hotline "New Hope Telephone Counseling
Center provided by the Crystal Cathedral
in CA (author & speaker, Robert
Schuller's church.) Ï You can call
24-hours a day and someone will speak
with you and pray with you. 714-639-4673.
Ï They also offer online private
"chat" with a counselor for
free 4 a.m.-12 a.m., 7 days a week.
find a Christian counselor in your area:
Ï call Focus on the Family 8 a.m.
- 5 p.m. and ask for the "counseling
department." 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459)
resources that Rest Ministries has available:
Copen is the founder and director of
Rest Ministries. She lives with rheumatoid
arthritis and fibromyalgia and is the
author of When
Chronic Illness Enters Your Life Bible