Sustained Not Rescued
Updated: Oct 25, 2018
When faced with trouble or pain – my first inclination is to pray for rescue! Look for an escape route. Find a solution. Change my circumstances.
After all, we will not be given more than we can handle, right? (1 Corinthians 10:13) Or are we selling ourselves short by focusing solely on rescue? Is God allowing us to experience our trouble or pain to show us who HE says we are, what HE knows we are capable of? To teach us to rely on His grace? To experience his sustaining power?
In Numbers 11, Moses cries out to God saying:
I am not able to carry all these people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. - Numbers 11:14
God responds by telling Moses to gather others and come talk with Him. He promises to be there with them.
And I will come down and talk with you there... - Numbers 11: 17
In this moment, God engaged Moses. He did not remove the burden (although He did allow others to help carry the burden with him) - God had a purpose in the burden.
Finding myself in a multitude of challenges this past year – I took to my knees to understand why. Not just asking for clarification – CRYING for it. Begging for understanding. And desperate for rescue. It is not my nature to wish to stay in a difficult situation – I tend to want to walk away.
Some people are just not inclined to absorb or appreciate pain. But when we find ourselves in these places – sometimes the burden is not lifted because we are focused on rescue, which is not why we are there.
This was the case for me.
Many times in my life – I have asked for the pain to disperse, and the struggle to resolve. I wanted easy. I wanted normal. I expected to learn, overcome and move on. But Psalms 55:22 says:
Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you...
He never promised to rescue. He will never prioritize our comfort over His purpose...but He will sustain us in that place.
I grew to understand this over the years. But as new struggles arise and new burdens come – that understanding is fleeting. It is easy to explain things away in their passing. I believe it was for this reason that Paul encouraged us in his letter to Philipi when he said
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus. – Philipians 4:7
Our understanding, if even obtained, will never suffice for a broken and burdened spirit. You cannot explain away anxiety, you cannot work off worry. You have to rely on something so much greater.
This past year, God enlightened my heart through a series of painful situations. Have you ever experienced the air getting knocked out of you a second time before you are able to catch your breath? This is what I experienced - 5 times.
The air was knocked out of me when my marriage started crumbling.
A second blow when our daughter, whom I loved as my very own for all these years and had sacrificed so so much for, decided we were no longer family and was validated in writing us out of her story.
Before my breath returned – a third blow. An injury that would leave me alone with my thoughts, dependent on my husband, and unable to control the outcome. Everything from my physical ability to care for myself (unable to walk or even stand), to my medical decisions (workers’ comp) were stripped away. Breaking your knee is painful, I will spare you the details. Surgery was scary. Recovery was brutal. But the worst part of this injury was removing me from all the distractions, God placed me where all I had was HIM and to face the deterioration of my world at home. To acknowledge the pain I was avoiding. He left me in the lonely, isolated place for 8 weeks. I felt this was rock bottom for me ---
But then my distraction all these years, which I had run to – my career – began to also crumble. In my absence, accusations were made and relationships were strained. By the time I was approved to return to work, my job had changed, I was convicted to quit and loyalties had shifted. So deeply hurt by the words and actions of others, that the end of my career was intensely painful.
And if not enough – a fifth blow, straight to the heart – a miscarriage. I had delayed having another child for years because it was not convenient for the job, or my marriage was not at the best place, or the stress of a previous marriage left us less than stable. And yet, here I am – finally blessed with a sibling for my little guy and that life, that hope, that fresh new beginning was stripped away in an instant. This, THIS, was my “rock bottom” - and it broke me. I felt the weight of guilt, the wave of sorrow, the anger for my son who had now lost 2 siblings in 1 year. I felt the emptiness. I felt the frustration. I asked all the “what ifs.” What if I hadn’t given a 4 month notice in resigning at work, what if I hadn’t fallen, what if I didn’t delay or wait, what if I’d waited longer. . .
These 5 things all occurred in an 8 month time span. The weight I wore on my shoulders and around my neck were stealing my air and my joy. But as much as I can tell you how difficult those eight months were, let me also share the provisions I saw too –
My marriage was strengthened, by force. We had allowed our lives to become so busy that we saw more of each other in those 8 months than we had probably spent together our entire marriage.
We were able to reprioritize somethings at home and realize we (specifically, I) had allowed the baggage from Jimmy’s previous marriage to have too much influence in our home.
I saw my parents come to my rescue. And how blessed I am to have such a large, loving family.
I slowed down enough to see that my son had been seizure free for 2 years! And was able to be with him more – even if the majority was sitting on the couch. Quality time is quality time.
I was able to see my faith without all the distractions clouding my view…and hear what I needed to do to clear out the clutter I had allowed.
I was given rest. Which may seem small, but those who knew me, knew what a huge blessing this was all its own. Rest for the weary.
I was also richly blessed to experience the comfort of God ---and this is where I want to park for a minute --- this is where I want to show you what I learned:
Sometimes, we are strategically placed in hard places to bring us to our knees. And other times we are strategically held there to keep us on our knees.
In all the situations above, I continually prayed for rescue – I wanted relief and in some cases I wanted out. But when He carried me through those 8 months, He taught me that some pains are allowed. Some burdens are never lifted. Sometimes the struggles are strategic. Intentional.
God blesses us and sustains us in the broken and bruised places of our life for a great honor:
If you look at Paul's previous verse in Philippians, we see HOW to obtain peace - that passes all understanding and guards our hearts and minds:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. - Philippians 4:6
The introduction of anxiety in our lives is our invitation to prayer. (Parker Richardson)
I wish I would have learned this years ago. If so, I would have valued praying deeper for my people – my parents, my siblings, my husband, my daughter, my son…even my husband’s ex wife and my co-workers. I did pray over the years…but I would have prayed differently. More frequently. More intentionally.
If you have a burden that is not being lifted – Ask God to understand the purpose rather than to be rescued. And then pray for those people or situations. It is easy to forget to pray for people or situations when things are good. But when they are less than acceptable, we tend to pray. The presence of pain, the stress in a struggle takes me to the feet of my savior – to be saved…but what if that presence is to trigger a reaction. To raise up an advocate. To position a warrior.
Rather than praying for relief in situations – I have begun praying for the person or situation. I have seen in some cases the purpose of the prayer is not even to do with me – in some cases it was just because that person or situation needed prayer.
When you pray for a person or situation - not for their effect on you, but for them alone, you will see your prayers take a much broader stroke. They cover a lot more ground. Our spirits become very sensitive and softened and God can use us to pray and minister to the hearts of others.
Jesus tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Mt 11:30), but it is easy and light because in prayer, we share in the weight of the burden with our Father. Don't go through this life trying to bear the weight of that which you were never intended to carry on your own.
What are you experiencing that you can pray through?
What burden needs to be seen through a different angle?
I would not trade my challenges because I pray constantly for my husband, daughter, son, friends, family, church, and even “enemies” – I don’t know if that would be the case if things came easy. I would like to hope so. But in praying, really praying, I ask the Lord, outside of my involvement, how can I pray for these people. It causes me to pause and think about what they are experiencing, overcoming, struggling through and enjoying in life.
In your pain, you are also being blessed with a constant reminder that God has inclined His ear to you. Waiting to hear from you. Wanting to talk to you. And expanding your perspective to pray for those around you.
It is an honor.
It is a privilege.
It is a blessing.