…I am shut up, and I cannot come forth (Psalm 88:8b KJV)
Rejoice the soul of Thy servant: for unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul (Psalm 86:4 KJV)
CONSOLATION IN CONFINING TIMES: THE DILEMMA
Some of us may find ourselves “shut up” because our lives are physically, mentally, or emotionally constricted. We have trouble finding consolation in confining times. If this relates to you, I hope this writing will be of encouragement.
Please know you are not alone. There are many of us out here restrained in varying ways. I presume most of us work hard to hide our challenges because we know others cannot easily understand our lives unless they themselves walk such a path. Those of us who suffer often look quite normal on the outside and can often be quite happy, many times appearing to have a carefree life. Only God and our own soul know the sorrowful burdens we carry.
It can also be easy for us to feel shame due to our inability to meet our own and others’ expectations. Worst of all are the lies whispered to us causing not only shame but also fear that we’re not meeting God’s expectations.
There is also the loneliness we can experience due to the limitations we live with out of others’ view. At the same time, we may hide so we don’t have to bear quick-fix clichés tossed our way, whether from sincere hearts or (much worse) hearts of stone, serving to intensify our already difficult inner struggles.
CONSOLATION IN CONFINING TIMES: A PART OF MY STORY
I have unseen struggles, although their effects can be partially recognized by some since they often keep me from commitments and things I enjoy. In missing church (a lot), having to cancel connecting with family and friends, and missing Bible studies, I also dearly miss being a part of a family and a fellowship.
There are other ways that I find myself stressed — like making appointments I fear I may not be able to keep by having to cancel at the last minute. There’s the anxiety I face when I need to have projects done on my house, not knowing whether I’ll be available to interact with workers as needed. Equally stressful is the fear of having the horrifying need to harbor in the bathroom while strangers are in my house working, since much of my life revolves around the great white porcelain throne.
I don’t have a husband to be my stand-in, and even if I did, I’d fear life with me would be a life sentence of sorts for him, which would only stress me further. To be fully transparent, I am also enormously insecure even without my challenges, and that would also be hard for another to bear, further increasing his and my own sorrow.
Being defined by struggles is not something I want. At the same time, I’m sometimes too open about my situation when trying to explain my absence or lack of committing to projects, because I deeply desire that others could understand not only my dilemma, but more so, my heart. It grievously pains me to think I may be regarded as the unreliable one — or worse, the one who just doesn’t care enough to be there for others as they and I wish I could be.
CONSOLATION IN CONFINING TIMES: QUIET THE NOISE
I’m sure all this heaviness I carry doesn’t help my situation. In a paradoxical kind of way (when I can quiet the noise of swirling concerns for my physical, mental and emotional health — and the weight of care for others whom I’m not there for in the ways I would like to be), I am finding solace (support, comfort, consolation) and peace in the Presence of God in far greater ways (Psalm 34:18, 147:3). I’m learning experientially that God is far more tender than I’ve known, and His patience and mercy truly uphold those bowed down (Psalm 145:14 NIV).
It’s a peculiar thing that while many things in my life have been harnessed in a constraining kind of way, my time with God by need and desire has blossomed into something extremely special. He turns my mourning into dancing, although not by way of removing all my troubles. Instead, it is by being with me, helping me in the midst of them, and granting me sustaining joy in the quiet places.
CONSOLATION IN CONFINING TIMES: LET GO OF THE CARES OF THE WORLD
When I let go of the cares of this world, i.e.
the care of:
- how my life comes across to others
- not being there in ways that best accommodate others and myself
- “what ifs” regarding my health and future
- all that I don’t know how to get on top of in my life, and the shame I feel by not doing so,
I’m learning that it’s not in my having this life and its circumstances all figured out, but instead, in my neediness, abiding with the One Who does!
In this very real way, I find my rest in Jesus, a place where you, dear one, are also tenderly welcomed. Yes, Jesus is our consolation in confining times.
A SIMPLE HEARTFELT PRAYER PROMPT:
“Rejoice the soul of your servant, O LORD.” Thank You for Your kind love and for desiring me.
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer
Melody is an imperfect woman loved by our perfect God. She longs for others to share the same intimacy she has with Him, knowing and experiencing Him as tender-hearted and relational. Melody lives in the scenic Texas Hill Country and has a beautiful God-given daughter and son-in-law who reside in California with their two adorable rescue dogs named Courage and Wonder. Learn more about her new book: Loved One: An Invitation to Feel God's Love and to Experience His Desire to Be Your God-Sized Help.
Photo by: Christine Lee Smith Photography
Verses to Comfort and Encourage
The most significant thing we can do when we’re lonely, anxious, afraid, or overwhelmed is to turn to the One who knows us and loves us completely – the God of all comfort.