“You need to have more faith” and “Just have hope, things will get better.” Have you ever been going through a hard time and someone tells you one or both of these two statements? While these statements are usually meant well, in times of suffering they seem as empty words. It's important to remember that what one knows to be true, doesn’t negate the pain and suffering of the present moment. The hope of The Resurrection doesn’t diminish the pain of The Crucifixion. The night before The Crucifixion, Christ suffered greatly in the Garden of Gethsemane. He sweat drops of blood, and His soul was sorrowful unto death. Jesus cried out asking The Father to let His sentence of death pass from Him. “My Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from Me; yet, not as I will, but as You will.” - Matthew 26:39
Upon hearing Jesus crying out, The Father didn’t respond with “Oh Jesus, why don’t you have more faith? Don’t you know soon it will be time for You to resurrect? Just look on the bright side!” The Father took compassion for His Son’s suffering and sent an angel to comfort Him. Of course, Jesus knew that His death would open the portals to blissful everlasting life; but the knowledge of that truth didn’t diminish the pain and suffering of the weight of the world. With this understanding, one can understand how when someone is going through a season of suffering or desolation, the said person isn’t one without faith but is simply enduring the pain, preceding The Resurrection, similar to The Lord. Though one knows and believes in the joy to come, carrying the Cross in the present moment is difficult.
So the question is, "How do we actually help ourselves or others in seasons of suffering and or desolation?" Here are a couple of tips and sentence swaps I have found to be helpful! :
First things first, I think it’s important to remember that you and God are on the same team, and not opposing ones. God is for us, not against us. The Lord can handle our emotions, and we are allowed to voice our frustrations to Him, but we should never get angry at Him to the point where we disregard His sovereign will, which is always in our best interest. So many couples will get mad at each other and fight like they are on opposing teams, instead of being one flesh. The proper model of marriage is Christ and His Bride The Church. We should never forget that we are in a relationship with God, and should never wrestle with Him like we are on opposing teams, because the goal of our lives is to become one with Him. God’s will for our lives is always for our ultimate good; even though here on earth we have to undergo sufferings and hardships.
In seasons of suffering and desolation, compassion goes a long way. If someone you know is suffering, try being like the angel The Father sent to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; a source of support and consolation. Instead of saying “Cheer up, things will get better.” Try asking “Is there anything I can do for you?” While providing some options of your means of support. If you are the one going through a season of suffering, open your heart up to the compassion of The Lord, and be not afraid to ask for His help, comfort, and support. You can also ask Him to send His angels to help you, and you can ask for the support of your guardian angel. “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4: 6-7
Instead of asking “How are you doing?” To someone undergoing suffering, consider asking “How is your heart?” Often when someone asks us how we are doing, we say “Good, and you?” Asking how someone’s heart is allows for deeper thought, connection, and conversation. It shows that you care on a deeper level. This notion can also be applied personally, by checking in and asking yourself “How is my heart doing?” Which is a question that calls for self-reflection, and introspection.
Give space when space is needed. There are multiple times throughout scripture where it says “Jesus went off alone to pray.” Time spent alone with God iin prayer is necessary. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone, or yourself when going through a tough time is allowing the proper space needed to sit in the suffering and then ultimately heal from it. Healing requires time alone with God. Inviting someone into a place of needed space can be helpful.
A lot of people have a hard time asking for space, or they feel like they have obligations that prevent them from taking time for themselves. Offering space for someone is a kind gesture, and can be as simple as saying, “I understand you’re going through a lot right now, if you want to cancel tomorrow night’s dinner plans that is completely fine with me, we all need to be given time and space to heal. I’m here for you if you need me!” In addition, offering help to take some obligations off their shoulders so they can have alone time is kind as well. If you are the one going through a tough time, remember that it’s okay to say “no” to certain situations and conversations to cultivate the time you need for space and healing.
Rest. Rest goes hand in hand with space. We all need to rest. We cannot heal and process things if we are not resting. Constantly pushing yourself to the limit, and having an overflowing schedule makes it hard to heal; because healing requires rest and silent time with The Lord. When in a season of suffering, rest is important. In times of suffering, we are often stressed and uneasy, and if not resting during these times we are more susceptible to illnesses and health problems.
Remember that God became man, and knows the sufferings that humanity endures because He experienced them to the brim Himself. Knowing that our God understands and knows our distresses because He suffered them is a great source of consolation and relief. God knows what you’re going through, and has compassion for you. Always remember that.