Thumping, thudding, banging in my head; temples throbbing, pulsing; my jaw screaming in agony as the TMJ joints pricked and panged; bones cracking, crumpling in my neck; back busted and bruised. Chronic pain wracked my body, torturing and agony for the past ten years.
I typed while tears flew off my face, as a guttural sob broke from my ribs to my lower stomach. Praising the Lord in the storm halted in my mind though I continued to type, clack, resorting to plonking, plonking slower until my hands cupped my face, head down.
Quiet. Solitary. Alone. Though I heard fits of laughter upstairs as my husband tickled my little daughter, readying her for bedtime, I felt sequestered in the basement like a cloistered nun or quarantined cow. How could I feel so alone when people surrounded me? Even the Lord felt so far away. Lord, lord why are you forsaking me?
A lonesome, broken soul grappled with the agony, a brokenness causing despair, despondency, hopelessness. I clapped my hands together, head down, knuckles white, and started praying. Dear Lord, I am so lonely and my broken body attacks my soul. I feel so far away from you. I know that you say that you are near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18.) “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! Amen.” (Psalm 139:23.)
A strong impression on my soul, the Holy Spirit breaking through whispers, “Contentment.” Contentment? I pondered the word and recognized the bitterness, anger, malice, pulsing through my veins. And then, conviction.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4: 11-12.)
Paul certainly knew agony in beatings, hunger, insomnia, imprisonments, riots, among other things—and yet, he was content. How Lord can I be more content? I heard small whispers in my spirit, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8.)
Be grateful, think on beautiful things of the Lord: purity, just, honorable and true. So, I riffled through the papers on my desk and discovered a small notebook in the corner. I scribbled furiously, by praising Him for the beauty in my life, those glorious graces and blessings.
“Lord…you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” (Isaiah 25:1.) I thanked Him for my benevolent, beautiful child, reminding me of God’s grace daily. He saved me by grace through faith, and died on the cross for my sins. I shouted “Halelujah!” for a salvation I did not deserve. I adored and worshiped Him for a loving husband, a relationship that was shattered into millions of pieces, now sewn up into serenity.
I lauded Him for the Christmas tree pine smell wafting down the stairs, the ornaments galore hanging from pine needles, the thick warm socks hugging my feet, the rich hot cocoa with melted marshmallows coating my throat, the angelic voices of the men and women singing The Messiah in the distance.
“My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.”
The praising, blessing oozed out of my brokenness into great joy for my Great Savior. I praised Him for big thick blankets while sitting in front of the fire, the vigor felt while walking outside in freezing weather, the birds chirping on my window sill, and the lights adorning the homes down the street.
You, too, can laud the Lord when feeling lonely. It lifts the despair, depression, despondency, altering your mind with thoughts of contentment, joy, and bliss like children larking about in the park on a cold winter’s day. I recommend writing in a journal or even using a couple pieces of paper. Praise, bless, and adore the Lord for His magnificence as seen in Creation every day.
Even if the tears flow, pour, and flood your cheeks, keep praising Him for the many blessings even if His myriad graces elude you at that moment. Pray to the Lord to help you see the beauty in Him and that around you. It will come. And, if it does not appear right away, “weeping may stay for the night (or even two), but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5.)
Sylvia Ronnau is a wife, mother to a peppy five year old girl, appellate attorney, and writer. She also suffers from chronic pain and felt God calling her to write about His grace in our everyday lives, even when we go through hardships. You can follow her blog at www.sylviaronnau.net, on Twitter at @SylviaRonnau and/or her Facebook author page as well at www.facebook.com/agloriousgod.
Thanks for sticking around for the Unwrapped series! A HUGE thank you to everyone who participated and shared their stories about the gifts God has brought in their lives.