FS Sunday Sermon

Can the Word of God Really Ease My Pain?

By:Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Some days I wake up crying.

When I do, I often don’t even know why. Perhaps it is the weight of unspoken problems that I’m too afraid to articulate, coupled with a vague dread of what might come next. Or perhaps it’s the growing realization that the pain I’m feeling will only intensify throughout the day.

I had one of those days recently. The day before, my arm had felt useless. I couldn’t pick up my coffee. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t do what I wanted. I felt trapped inside my body, which had become an all-too-familiar feeling. At times, it has almost felt like a living death.

A Cry for Help

As I lay in bed, contemplating what the day might hold, I felt tears welling up inside me.

“Stop, don’t do this,” I told myself. But I couldn’t force the tears to stop, and they started trickling down my face. Before long, my pillow was soaked and I felt hopeless.

Your life is miserable. You’re a burden. You can’t do anything for yourself, were the ugly voices I kept hearing until I forced myself out of bed.

I pulled my robe on slowly and stumbled into my prayer closet. I didn’t want to go but I knew I needed this.

“Please God, help me. Show me your truth,” was my only cry. I could not muster anything more. I just sat in the semidarkness, praying, and then I opened my Bible and started reading.

Do I Trust Him?

Without God’s word, I would start interpreting life on my own. By my experiences. My feelings. My finite perspective.

I knew that his word was the only place to find truth. If I judge life by my despair, my pain, my circumstances, I will always live life skewed. I will judge everything by what I see. But life is so much more than what I can see. There is a reality that goes far beyond my experience.

I turned the pages of Scripture to the first reading for the day, wondering what God had for me. It was Psalm 56, a beloved passage. The one sentence summary read, “In God I trust.” I wondered if I trusted him. Trusting felt harder when life was pressing in. But as I took in the familiar lines, a sense of God’s peace washed over me. A peace that was inexplicable. A peace that surpassed understanding.

When I Am Afraid

Sometimes it requires perseverance to understand what I’m reading, like mining for gems. I need to grapple with the text a while before I discover a diamond. And other times, like that day, God feeds me freely from his hand. I just need to receive it.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

God knew I was afraid. He didn’t condemn me. But he called me to trust him in the middle of my pain. He alone could drive out my fears.

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.

God knew my sleepless nights. All the tears I have cried. All my fears, spoken and unspoken. It was all laid bare before him.

And these words, these words took my breath away: “This I know, that God is for me.”

God Is for Me

God is for me.

Even when life looks like it’s splintering, God is for me. And if God is for me, he is orchestrating everything in my life for my good. I can trust him even when everything looks dark. He tells me not to be afraid. He will take care of me.

God is for me. Those words kept echoing through my mind.

For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

What a fitting end to the psalm. He indeed has delivered my soul from death. He has kept my feet from stumbling. He has empowered me to walk before him in his light. My legs and feet have become increasingly frail, and walking is getting harder. But he who created me knows every detail of my life, and he will keep me from falling.

New Tears

My eyes teared up for the second time that morning. But these were tears of joy. And hope. This was the true reality, not my circumstances. This word from God, penned thousands of years ago, reminded me of the truths I so easily forget.

I smoothed out the pages with my hands and almost hugged the Bible. God’s word had become life to me. It sustains me. It revives me. It comforts me. He comforts me.

I wanted to take the words and eat them, to let them nourish me. I was reminded of Jeremiah who said, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). These words were the delight of my heart. They brought light to my eyes. My view of the world, my life, and my struggles were all changed in the light of Scripture. And in that light, my dark shadows disappeared.

As I left my prayer closet, I was grateful for the way my perspective had changed. I was filled with hope. My circumstances were no different than when I entered, yet my emotions had been strangely transformed. Meeting with God had reframed everything.

Because God is for me, in Christ, I can trust him. I can trust him with my weakness, with my fears, with my pain. And with that knowledge, I can face the day. With that knowledge, I can face anything.

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