When we suffer alone {guest post}


I’m delighted to have Mary De Muth in this space today. She is the author of fifteen books, both fiction and non-fiction, and she helps people live life uncaged, turning their pain into healing and joy. She has emerged from deep suffering, and she writes of life after childhood sexual abuse in her memoir, Thin Places. It is a privilege to have her here today:

 
 

This post has been percolating in me the past few days. Bits and pieces come to me as I think about isolation and suffering. What happens if we suffer alone? Does it matter? Make a difference? Indicate a tinge of our own significance?
 

Job suffered alone.
 

Yes, he had his wife and his well-meaning friends, but in the depth of his pain, he felt abandoned. Not one soul seemed to understand. Not one person shouldered his grief fully.
 

We live in the world of Facebook, Twitter, and texting. At any moment of the day, we can be virtually surrounded by “friends.” But we are a lonely people. We crave community. We do not want to suffer alone.
 

And yet, sometimes God calls us to a journey that feels scary and isolated. Why? I’m not intelligent enough to understand the heart or mind of the Almighty. But I can say I’ve grown deep roots during loneliness. And I’ve found more and more of Jesus in those forsaken places.
 

In Job 26, Job recounts the greatness of God, how other than us He is. He rebukes and the world trembles. He quiets the waters with a word. Be fascinated by the way this chapter ends:
 

“By His breath the heavens are cleared; His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent. Behold these are the fringes of His ways; And how faint a word we hear from Him! But His mighty thunder, who can understand?” (13-14, NASB).
 

We serve a powerful, surprising God. And if we suffer patiently and with faith, we’ll begin to catch the fringes of His ways.
 

But what’s the point of suffering? Are we like Job, suffering to prove our integrity? Why go through all that? Why alone?
 

One answer comes from a favorite book, When God Weeps by Joni Earekson Tada. She writes of her good friend John who suffers from a debilitating illness. And mostly, he suffers alone:
 

“God’s purpose is to teach millions of unseen beings about Himself; and we are a blackboard upon which God is drawing lessons about Himself for the benefit of angels and demons. God gets glory every time the spirit world learns how powerful His everlasting arms are in upholding the weak. They learn it is God who permeates every fiber of John’s being with perseverance. My friend’s life is not a waste. Although not many people seem to care, someone – a great many someones – care more than John can imagine. John’s life does something else. It disgusts Satan. The trust John shows God drives the Devil up a wall.” (p. 108).

 

I gain perspective when I read and re-read this passage. Our suffering, even if it’s completely alone, matters. Our praise in the midst of pain means something. It deals a blow to the Enemy of our Souls. It testifies to the angels that God is strong when we are weak and needy.
 

I felt alone, so very alone, when we planted a church in Southern France. Stateside, we’d lost our home to a conman (losing all financial security), and our relationships were toxic. Other than my family, I had no one to turn to. I suffered mostly alone, trying to shield my husband and kids from my sorrow. I had extremely low points, and I felt very depressed. But even so, I somehow made it through.
 

At times I wondered aloud why in the world God would allow such a thing. After all, we were serving Him! But now, in retrospect, even though I couldn’t see it at the time, great growth stemmed from the soil of my loneliness. I’m a more connected believer today because of it. And the maturity God has developed in me has really been a blessing.
 

If you suffer alone today, consider deeply these words. God sees. He sees you. Even if you feel completely bereft of relationships, if you are friendless or some sort of pariah. He knows. He suffered in like manner on the cross. Disrobed, disgraced, and bloodied, He cried the agonizing cry, forsaken by friends, lost to the Father in a holy moment. He’s been there. He’ll meet you in the lonely, shattered places.
 

I know because I’ve been there before. Like Job, I’ve looked back in retrospect in those dark, lonely moments and said these words:
 

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5).
 

Suffering alone changes our vision. We may have heard God in the past, but through the crucible of suffering, we see God. See Him! And suddenly the crying in the dark feels like a part of the journey toward knowing Him in an entirely new way. Not only do we shake the heavenlies when we praise through our trials, we move from hearing to seeing the Almighty.
 

If you are suffering alone today, take heart. Praise Him in the midst of the darkness. Praising God while the tumult swirls is great spiritual warfare. And wait in anticipation for the day you see God more clearly.
 

The lonely journey is worth it. It is.
 

Mary DeMuth imageMary DeMuth is the author of over a dozen books, including her latest, The Wall Around Your Heart (where her France story is mined). She speaks around the world about living an uncaged, freedom-infused life. She makes her home in Texas with her family of five. Find out more at marydemuth.com
 

Over to you:

  • When have you felt like you were suffering alone?
  • How have you seen God’s grace in those times of loneliness?
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    6 Responses to When we suffer alone {guest post}

    1. sandra hughes 9th October, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

      Thank you so much for this. Much of it felt very familiar, but expressed in a way I could not describe. God has helped me through many dark and lonely times, but drew me closer to Him through the experiences. Knowing His love for me has helped me for many years, and also enabled me to help others, especially when telling them of my experiences. God Bless.

    2. Rebecka 2nd October, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

      Thank you for this lovely post, Mary. It gave me a new perspective.

    3. Tricia 2nd October, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      Thank you for this. I’m struggling to find words that don’t seem trite.
      Compared to Tanya and others with long term illnesses my problems were nothing, but I had an extended period of illness after a routine gall bladder op. The brave face that I put on when getting my husband and daughter out if the house in the morning soon fell off when I was on my own.
      The helplessness and pain were so awful some days and the loneliness … But like you and others that was where I found God. I came so much closer to God during that time ….. When I cried out in pain or shear frustration He was there to hold me.
      Looking back I know that I grew enormously in my faith during that time.
      Blessings.

    4. Shelly Hendricks (@Renewed_Daily) 1st October, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

      This post is SO lovely, a balm to the soul! Thank you for sharing your insights from your journey. As someone who is chronically ill, I could relate to so much that you wrote here. Blessings, Shelly
      Shelly Hendricks (@Renewed_Daily) recently posted…His HandsMy Profile

    5. Mary DeMuth (@MaryDeMuth) 1st October, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Thanks for hosting me here, Tanya!
      Mary DeMuth (@MaryDeMuth) recently posted…The Wall Around Your HeartMy Profile

      • Tanya 6th October, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

        It’s great to have you here!

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