When I had lost all hope….

“When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord” Jonah 2:7

I recently underwent surgery. Knowing I’d be in the hospital for a few days, I thought about ways I would share Jesus to those I’d encountered. I packed my bible, a book of prayers, and a notebook. I had talked with God before going into hospital and felt ready to be a super evangelist. The morning of my surgery I was keen and full of hope but my attitude began to change hours after surgery. As the medication wore off I began to feel the effect of the surgeon’s work and it hurt. Despite being given a lot of pain medication, I became distressed. Pain is subjective in that no two people will react the same. I was reacting poorly as I had not imagined the pain I was experiencing was possible. I was very desperate for relief and as I lay rocking myself in the hospital bed, I spoke with God several times about my misery. I knew this situation would only last a few days at most but I found I could not say much to Him as my focus and thoughts were about me and not Him.

Many of us struggle with things that steal our focus and thoughts. Many are being weighed down by the trials of life. When we face a dilemma our thoughts are about our situation and we can find it hard to turn them off. The challenge for all followers of Jesus is to find a way to turn our thoughts to God especially during tough times. This does not mean we ignore the problems we are facing. It means we must find a way to soothe our anxious minds so we can survive the experience and even grow stronger. God offers to bring comfort but requires we first stop what we are doing and focus on Him. Why do you think God tells us to be still? (Psalm 46:10). When we are not still our mind is going to be filled with so much noise from the trials around us that we will never overcome our problems and we will resist God’s offer of aide.

Some relief came to me 36 hours post-surgery. As I lay in bed I noticed a bag that had been given to me by some of the kids in my youth class. On it was written “Open if you are feeling bad or need a hug”. I opened it and found many personalized notes of encouragement. They all seemed to be suggesting that if I focus on God I will be happy. The last note I read contained a verse from Jonah 2:7. I seemed to be in a hopeless state but as I read these notes I was reminded of those praying for me and those taking care of me. I also remembered that God loves me and did not want to see me suffer but knew that some suffering would occur but the surgery would improve my life.

During my hospital stay I had used my bible as a biting pad to prevent myself from screaming. My book and notepad were never opened. I did not behave in the Way I had hoped but I learnt much about my relationship with God. When our minds dwells on something besides the Lord for a long period of time we can become weary. As soon as I turned my thoughts to Him, I began to see some light. What are your thoughts filled with? Is it Christ? Our mind loves to dwell on everything and so we have to make war with it. I found that when I thought only of my pain I was not going to move forward. When we get caught up in our misery and struggles, we are often unable to move forward because we stop focusing on God and think only of ourselves; we almost stop looking for help.

Plan to survive struggles. Trust God’s promises. When He says to be still, He offers a way to calm us so we can sense and lean on His presence. Identify a Christian friend who would be willing to walk with you through your thought times and good times (you are expected to do the same with them). Be each other’s encouragement. Have some scripture nearby that reminds you to seek God and trust  Him. Don’t be discouraged or ashamed when you face a struggle. The evil one and his minions are doing all they can to derail your relationship with God. Jesus said He overcame the world, and so we can also survive it. God’s desire is not for us to hate our lives, but to live it to the full. We can do that if He remains the central focus of our thoughts and actions.