out the streaked window, the color of the trees seemed to match
the color of the street. How could that be? Aren't trees green and
isn't pavement black? This day though everything was gray. Feelings
of hopelessness had me locked in a prison of sadness. I had never
experienced misery to this degree. Sure, there have been many occasions
to be depressed-one came to me with each of the many spinal operations
I had endured. Being constrained by the remnants of these surgeries,
a degenerative condition in my back, chronic pain, and the awful
side effects of the narcotics, is depressing. Anyone would feel
discouraged in this condition, wouldn't they? But this was different,
and I am a Christian
a Christian represent the very opposite of hopelessness? Isn't the
Christian life supposed to be the epitome of hope? How could I be
feeling this way and how could I be obsessively thinking thoughts
that could ultimately lead to the end of my life? What kind of "witness"
and legacy would that leave behind?
Day after day
I became more self-centered. It seemed my thoughts, let alone my
prayers, didn't extend beyond the foot of my bed. I felt lethargic
and slept a lot. Interest in my normal activities waned. My husband,
who daily made me laugh, just wasn't funny anymore. Even the words
I read in the Bible seemed to be just words. I was taking more of
the pain medications I was given after my last surgery, and my mind
became more and more a muddled mess. My house was as unkempt as
the rest of me. How could I possibly go on any longer like this?
My beloved husband began picking up the distressing comments I was
dropping. He would try to dust them off, one by one, and give them
back to me wrapped in something a bit brighter. I found purpose
in letting him know just how miserable I was and he found purpose
in encouraging me not to give up. It was our little game and I enjoyed
it. I was getting a lot of attention-from him and others who were
praying for me. He even took me before the elders of our church
to have me "prayed over" and they laid hands on me, praying
for a physical miracle to heal my spinal disease; and a spiritual
miracle that would deliver me from my morbid mindset.
Not long after,
hope came. The uninvited guest proceeded from my husband's lips
and wasted no time piercing my hurting heart-initially instilling
even more pain. One evening my husband became frustrated with my
banter about "ending it all." He turned to me and quite
frankly said, "You are being selfish." He was tired of
the game. He wasn't being cruel, but he felt the need to speak the
truth to me, and so he did. We talked and I cried. My ego was wounded.
How could that be? Hadn't I said that I didn't care at all-about
being selfish." Those words resonated in my heart, in my mind,
and in my very soul. For days I was haunted by this string of words
that followed me to sleep and dangled in front of me when I awoke.
Light began to dispel the darkness and eventually they infused hope
into the center of my being. You see, as a Christian, I believe
that selfishness has its root in sin. That's good news because sin
is curable! It's the very reason why Christ came in the first place-to
save His people from sin. Not just from the eternal penalty but
also from the crippling power it has in our lives. Where sin abounds,
sin's cure exceeds.
So, therein hope began to uproot the hopelessness of my situation
and I found joy. At the absolute core of the gospel I found the
remedy for my malady. It was there waiting for me to confess my
need for it. The precious blood of my Lord Jesus Christ is the readily
available cure for all issues of sin. He came for this very thing.
Only God can release us from the power of sin in our lives.
Because of what Christ did on the cross for me I could be free from
the clutches of that ugly monster-selfishness. With confession and
repentance there would indeed be deliverance. It was a cleansing
and refreshing hope from the God of all hope! I began to once again
see God's mercies new every morning. I wasn't blinded any longer
by my selfishness. I could see the Lord in my life again, and I
wanted to live that life!
began with getting over myself and my hurt feelings. I took personal
responsibility for not having guarded my heart from my woes; I had
allowed them to take up a safe haven inside my heart. And since
the issues of life proceed from the heart, mine became confused
and disoriented. Once I brought these emotions to their rightful
spot-the throne of grace-my heart was protected from their onslaught.
I could then experience truth in my inward parts, as God directs
us to have. Then and there came freedom and a hope that does not
The Bible once again became my lifeline to joy and peace. I took
steps to wean off the medications and began to take care of my home
again. Little by little, step-by-step, I climbed out of the pit
I had dug for myself. My marriage was refreshed and I finally understood
that this life is not about what I can get out of it but what I
can put into it. I couldn't see that before because I chose not
to see past myself! Reaching out to others through ministry involvement
became essential to not only having hope-but keeping it. Important,
too, I learned to trust God with my life by means of the same belief
I had in Him to be able to save my soul from hell. He is able. He
is with me. There is nothing too difficult for Him!
Palatsky is a freelance writer and author. Her new book, Think
It Not Strange is full of hope for Christians living with
chronic pain-whether from illness or emotions. She resides with
her husband and their teenage son in CA.