“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (II Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV)
Several years ago, I heard a speaker say that definitions hold power. His discussion and views piqued my interest, especially when he gave examples of how the meaning of words and phrases have changed over the years.
I remembered those ideas as I prepared for another doctor’s appointment. My medical team has described me as a chronic pain and illness sufferer. My husband has defined me as wife, mother, friend, and partner. Then, there are other people who have characterized me – my children, parents, in-laws, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
How others see me and think about me shouldn’t matter. But, I admit that constantly hearing questions about my health wears on me. “How are you feeling?” “You look tired.” “How can you stand it?” “I feel sorry for you.”
Then, there are the questions or comments that attack my faith: “Don’t you believe in divine healing?” “My mother suffered had (fill in the blank, because I’ve heard just about everything) all she did was pray, and stand on her faith. Now, she’s healed. You must be doing something wrong.”
Sometimes when I get backed into a corner, I question myself. I wonder if what they say is true. Is something wrong with me? Do I lack faith?
Allowing myself listen to and think about what they are saying takes my eyes off of God. Their words and opinions weigh on my mind, and then my self-esteem takes a dive. I find ask myself, “Am I worthy?”
You know, maybe there’s something inside of me that makes me believe I don’t deserve a life free from suffering. Are they right? Am I wrong for working through the challenges in my life, trusting God to give me the strength I need to endure?
What about you? Who judges you and defines your life according to their standards? They see your struggles. But instead offering you compassion, empathy, or support, there is only disapproval.
As you know, one of my biggest challenges involves my health. A flare severely limits my abilities. Sometimes the pain, fatigue, or stiff and swollen joints force me to bed. My family buzzes around me, and I’m left alone. I can’t contribute, and I feel useless.
Can you relate? Have you experienced moments when you questioned your worth?
We want a new career, but we don’t have the necessary skills. Our marriage is falling apart, and we don’t know how to make things better. Our relationship with our children is strained, and we fear the path they have chosen. We’re drowning in debt but try to maintain the up appearance of a normal life.
Unexpected situations will always pop up, and if we let them overwhelm us, we become anxious, stressed, and depressed, thinking we are doomed to a life of hopelessness.
We have to renew our minds and let God‘s Word define us (Romans 12:1-2). We have to remember that we have been magnificently created (Psalm 139:14). We are loved (I John 4:7-11). In spite of our situation, God can use us to bring glory to His name and to help others.
I don’t know what you face on a daily basis; or the source of your pain; or the person whose harsh words made you feel worthless; or the cause of your shame; or the damage abuse left on your soul; or how often rejection caused you to cry yourself to sleep; or understand the cravings of your addiction; or why mental illness strikes your family.
If we focus on the things that puzzle us and leave us stumped, we start to panic and think that we may not make it. However, putting our faith, hope and trust in God and leaning on Him to be with us, allows us to bear our hardships. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:24-34), and Paul assures us that God will meet our need (Philippians 4:19).
We must cast every care on the Lord (I Peter 5:7), let His love transform our lives, and believe Him when He says He will never leave us (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 13:5). Then, we will begin to find restoration. We will understand that our worth is not linked to material or physical things. Our worth is based on God’s love for us.
He said we are worthy, and He proved it with the cross.
I pray we will never forget.