When You’re All Alone in Your Pain

Meditating on Psalm 142.

Look on my right hand and see,
For there is no one who acknowledges me;
Refuge has failed me;
No one cares for my soul. (v. 4)

We have David weeping and crying out to the Lord again. Alone in the cave he resorted to, fleeing his enemies, he lamented his predicament. He felt so all alone, deserted, bereft of someone, anyone, who could comfort his soul. Except the Lord. When David found himself in the isolated island of loneliness, fear, and uncertainty, he cried out to God. He knew that in Him, he was never really alone.

I cried out to You, O Lord:
I said, “You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living. (v. 5)

Have you been in that place? A dark, damp, musty cave where there was no escaping? The jagged walls are hostile, cold, and wet. Creepy creatures seem to lurk in the dark nooks waiting to make their attack. Well, you may not find yourself in a real cave like that, but still, you feel alone and scared and the world around you seems not to care, or cold and hostile even.

I have been in that horrifying place. When sin and guilt morphed into a full-blown monster and attacked my mind, I was like a trembling leaf petrified to the core. I went out but the demons of fear followed me. They were in the restaurant where I ate, or in the mall, or in the corridors of the hospital where I walked with shaky legs, or in the doctors’ clinics that smelled of antiseptic. Or in the dimly-lit room of the psychiatrist (now, that was like a cave minus the stalactites and stalagmites). The people around me and in the other tables talked and laughed like I wasn’t unraveling and crumbling inside. To be sitting there, feeling like a whirlwind is swallowing you up into the depths, and yet, they don’t know – is a pure chilling feeling. That is what it feels to be isolated, deserted.

The people who try to help cannot really do it. They cannot reach that far or that deep. No doctors, no therapists, no friends, no family – yes, just like David – can reach out to save the drowning. Only Jesus. I have been in that place and have found out that only Jesus can reach out that far and deep and dangerous. Only He has the unequalled power and the intensity of unconditional love to save and deliver. He gained it from His death on the cross – our redemption and salvation, our healing, our deliverance from the dark cave, the whirlwind, the dimly-lit psychiatrist’s office, and the demons. All the things that ever imprisoned us.

There is nothing that His grace cannot reach and His love cannot cover. He fills all things and He’s in all things.

 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) Eph. 4:9-10 NIV

When you think you’re all alone in your fear and pain, you’re never really alone. Run to Jesus. He is our refuge, our portion in the land of the living. He will deal bountifully with us.

Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me. (v. 7)

(Photo courtesy of my cousin Bill Raras).

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I might be linking up with these lovely blogs and Coffee for Your Heart.

Journey with Jesus,

Jesus and the Brokenhearted

When I finally got to talk to her, she stood in front of me bravely and without a hint of pain lining her face. Bravely I say because what would a 46-year old mother say to a 13-year old teen who’s not even her daughter? But she’s Hannah’s dear friend and I really care for her. When Hannah told me about her friend’s family breaking up, my heart went out to her and her Mom. I was touched deeply when Hannah said that her friend told her it’s okay to tell me.

I remember the first time I met her. She was barely 8 years old, the same age as Hannah. Hannah presented her to me, her newfound friend, as I sat at our doorstep. I squeezed her chubby arms then, letting her know I wanted her and Hannah to be real friends. Beginning that day, the two spent sunny summer days biking around the neighborhood. One morning, as I was settling in my usual spot at our doorstep fronting the garage, I saw a piece of paper wedged in our gate. Hannah took it and read. It was a note from her friend. It simply said, You’re my best friend forever. This, even before the word BFF became so overused and commonplace. But there was nothing commonplace in their friendship. One, if I’m honest to admit, that I actually envy. (Ever since my closest friend emigrated to Canada, I had not found someone whom I can call “BFF”).

So, Hannah’s friend stood in front of me, Hannah right beside her, much like that very first day I met her. I asked how she was, and her Mom, too. Many times, I had to blink back tears as we talked. But she carried herself remarkably well, not once breaking down. In the end, I told her I’d pray for her and her Mom.

Marriages implode, families are torn apart, hearts shatter and bleed. We can only do as much – love, care, pray. As Christ-followers, we share in their pain and burden, but it’s only really the Lord Jesus Christ who can heal, redeem, and restore what was broken. I can’t even begin to imagine the raw pain, the anguish, brought about by a crumbled home and being pinned down underneath the hopeless, ugly heap.

Our family had once walked down that road, although it wasn’t as final and hopeless. Because of our testimony, because of what the Lord has done in our lives, I can believe that there is hope for every smashed-up heart. If not healing and restoration, it can be healing and a new life. A new beginning. These are all possible in Christ.

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10 MSG)

This is my hope and prayer for Hannah’s friend and her family, and for all the others out there whose peace and joy have been stolen and lives have been destroyed. All our hope is in Jesus who gave His life so we can find ours in Him.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Ps. 51:17)

(Photo courtesy of my cousin Bill Raras).

If you have been blessed by your visit here, please like Our Healing Moments on Facebook and connect with me there. Thank you!

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs and Coffee for Your Heart.

Journey with Jesus,

A Tale of Two Homes

There are homes that shatter, the sound of which cannot be kept from people who are curious but do not really care. And there are homes whose lights flicker for a while, then slowly die down. And there is only darkness. Such a home quietly closes, as if to say, “You’ll soon forget me.”

(image from Google)

When we first arrived in our beautiful home in a dream subdivision in a quiet suburb, life was full of promise. My first-born was only two weeks old, a cute baby girl I had earnestly prayed for. My friend came to visit while we were finalizing the renovations and she exclaimed, “Your house is like a church!” She was exaggerating, of course, but she was reacting to the arched french double doors that led to the kitchen. We were both quite ignorant to be in a big beautiful house since we both grew up in the far-flung province.

Then I met one of our neighbors. They had been here many years before. One of the first few homeowners in this place. She was matronly and carried herself regally. She also spoke proudly and didn’t smile. Or so that’s what I remember. The former owners of our house were not in good terms with her. But though I liked their house, I didn’t plan to be like them. I didn’t see any problem with our matronly neighbor. She came to visit while I was in bed rest. I was not scared with her quite pompous attitude. I was actually amused by it.

She had grandchildren who went to prestigious schools. As Hannah grew up, she became friends with them and they played in the street every morning.

Unbeknownst to our neighbors, my husband Felix had finally left because of a violent and painful fight we had. I could not understand. I felt like my whole life came crumbling down. I was hurt and confused and I believed in my heart that my husband was too weak to care for his family and hold it together with all his might. The light died down in our home. I had a beautiful house, a flourishing company, a successful career, and a strong and healthy body. But our home was broken. And my daughter had not even turned one.

Two years. Two years before the Lord Jesus found us and redeemed our marriage and restored our family. But I had lost my strong and healthy body. Nonetheless, a light began to flicker in our home once again. The light of the Savior.

In 2004, while I was fighting for my life against my undiagnosed illness, our neighbor’s son, a businessman, took his own life, leaving his wife and little children behind. The youngest was only a month old. It was before Christmas. If ever our stately neighbor was deeply affected by it, it didn’t show. She remained to look dignified and regal. I marvelled at her resilience and confidence.

She had a life partner for three decades. They were always together. They were happy and enjoyed each other’s company. That I could see.

Then came the kidney disease and the never-ending twice-weekly dialysis. They told us about it when they came to my son’s dedication. We brought them to our Church’s ordained preacher and she was prayed over. We hoped and prayed that they will continue with the Lord Jesus Christ. We invited them every Sunday for a while. But they never wanted to come with us to Church.

Then came the triple heart bypass surgery. My heart trembled every time she was fetched by an ambulance. I was so scared to think that she might die. I sent DVDs of our Church’s worship service that she could watch while convalescing. I could never be sure if she watched them.

She began to use the wheelchair. But her poise remained with her. It looked to me like she never wanted to let go of beauty and vanity. She had somebody come regularly to do her nails and to color and style her hair. I marvelled at her tenacity. Or maybe she wanted to remain beautiful in the eyes of the love of her life, her college sweetheart.

But if marriage vows can be dishonored, what will happen in the absence of them? He left. For good. Without her knowing of the plan. When I learned about it, I ached for her sake. How can the light of a home, of a love, of a person, fade slowly and excruciatingly painfully?

This, this should have been their everything.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12, emphasis mine)

During one of the rare afternoons that I could go around our village, I saw her in her wheelchair under the Narra tree. I don’t want to say I was shocked by what I saw for I don’t want to dishonor her. But the first, almost instinctive, reaction I had was to run to Jesus in my heart, in that secret place, and cling to Him. That is what a portrait of fading away does to a weak spirit like mine. I draw strength from my Savior.

I had wondered, sorrowfully, “Is this what dialysis does to a person? It sucks the life out of you ever so slowly, but surely, until there is nothing left?” Amid those questions I had tightly clung to Jesus again. I know how to be near the edge of death’s door. I had been there many times. But Life that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ gave life to my dying body and keeps the light burning in my soul. And in my eyes. For all to see. Hallelujah!

12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. (Col. 2:12-14 NLT, emphasis mine)

I saw the difference between a diseased body that is owned by the Savior and one whose light has completely gone.

Then one day, she was gone. I stared long and hard at their house. It stood silently. And desolate.

 I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,