The scriptural account of the woman with an issue of blood is one that inspires and comforts. While we all likely know the general mechanics of the story, that a woman who had been very sick for a very long time touched the robe of Christ and was healed, there are details worth much deeper reflection.
One such detail can be found in the gospel of Mark. Listen to how he recalls the women’s situation:
“And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.”
Haven’t we all experienced times like these? Perhaps you’re weighed down with a physical infirmity, like this woman from the scriptures. You could also be waking up each day to face a harrowing mental, emotional, or spiritual illness. You give all you have, suffering in an attempt to find healing, and yet nothing gets better. It only grows worse.
How can we praise God in the midst of such times? The natural man feels the distance, separation from heaven. Can we push through and find the peace of Jesus Christ even in the midst of suffering? Here are some things to consider.
Don’t Think Everything Is Your Fault
When hard times come, we often push ourselves harder against it. If something is wrong in our lives, it has to be our fault. We must be weak or sinful or just “not enough” in some way. If we just pray harder, study harder, and be better, we’ll receive a shower of blessings.
This thought pattern is a tool of the adversary. While blessings do indeed come from righteous living, we live in a fallen world. We knew that our mortal probation would be filled with things that would simply be unfair. Don’t make your situation worse by heaping on shame when it doesn’t belong. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to do more when God simply wants you to be still.
Don’t Think Everything Is God’s Fault Either
If we don’t blame ourselves, our next tendency is to blame God. How could this happen? Why did this happen? Where was God? Here’s a great quote from President Boyd K. Packer:
“Do not suppose that God willfully causes that, which for His own purposes, he permits.”
As part of the great plan God has for us, we came to earth to gain experience and use our agency. God permits evil to exist in the world, providing us with a Savior for ultimate salvation and healing. Understanding more about this plan can help us better understand our own pain and why God is working a certain way in our lives.
Hold Tight to Your Agency
Though pain and trial can definitely affect our lives in serious ways, we have the powerful gift of agency. Never relinquish it. Do all you can to use your ability to choose in righteous and wise ways. Pain can make you feel powerless, yet agency reminds us there are always choices to be made. We can find glimmers of light through the spirit on how we can act, instead of being acted upon.
Be Open With God About Your Pain
We live in a perfectionist culture. We’re told to be happy because no one wants to be around unhappy people. Many people struggle with vulnerability; it’s hard, to be honest about our pain. Regardless of how you’re able to connect with those around you, be open and honest with God. Tell him all about your pain. Cry with him. Don’t hold anything back. God wants to sit with us as we experience pain; instead of fixing all of our problems immediately, which would seriously stunt our eternal progress, he wants to just be there with us. Let him.
Recognize Pain & Praise Can Exist Together
Pain can seem all-consuming. It may feel impossible that there is anything to be grateful for or anything good in your life. However, pain and praise for God’s goodness can co-exist. It isn’t an easy task. We have to use a lot of our mental and emotional energy to get started. One way you can start praising God is to set aside some specific time to feel both. Give time to your pain. Think about what hurts and why. Talk to God about it. Then, set aside some specific time to try and focus on why you should rejoice in Christ and how he has been working in your life. Express gratitude for those things, however small they may seem.
Reach Out to Jesus Christ
There is one who knows what it is like to feel unspeakable pain, to beg for it to stop, but to only find there is more pain ahead. Jesus Christ knows intimately how you are feeling right now. Regardless of what your journey in this life may look like, we all have the assurance that he will walk it with us. We may not get what we want in the way we want it. We may not get the answers we feel we need or the healing we desperately pray for. But remember: neither did Christ.
Reach out to him. Visualize him with you, speaking comforting words and reminding you of a far more exceeding weight of glory.