Podcast Episode 5 - A Long Suffering
Click to listen here or scroll down to read a transcript
Welcome to Jen’s New Song
My name is Jennifer Holmes and this is a podcast for those struggling with their mental health. Whether that means you’re struggling with depression or other mental illness, or you’re just going through a difficult season and need some help remembering who God is, this podcast is for you.
Right now we are working our way through a series on the Psalms and looking at how the psalmists weren’t afraid to tell God exactly how they felt, but at the end of the psalm, they reminded themselves of what they knew to be true about God. Even if they didn’t feel that way at that moment, they still reminded themselves of the truth. That’s exactly what I need to do in my life today, and maybe you do too.
My goals for this podcast are for you to feel as though you’re not alone, for us to be able to talk about the hard things, and to be able to honestly cry out to God with our difficult emotions. But I don’t want us to stay there. We don’t have to live in defeat. We can begin to renew our minds through the word of God.
Join me for today’s look at Psalm 13.
How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
There’s something about long suffering that makes us wonder where God is.
When my daughter turned 1, I woke up one morning with a strange sensation in my left hand. My doctor thought it would be carpel tunnel and started making appointments for tests. By the time I had the tests done, it had traveled up my arm and into my back. Within a year, the entire left side of my body had this strange sensation. Almost as if the whole side of my body had fallen asleep. I mean, the left side of my tongue felt different and even my left eyeball tingled.
By the time it had reached the whole left side, I started having accompanying pain. And then they started registering muscle degeneration. Within three years, it was affecting my daily life. I couldn’t commit to days where I would have to be walking the whole day. My doctor and all the specialists in my life were sure that I had MS. Except the MS doctor, of course. My husband and I started making plans because I was sure I would need a wheelchair by age 35.
I saw every specialist, and every natural health person you could imagine. By God’s grace, many people’s help, and a million appointments, 11 years later and I’m almost completely recovered. It only pops up when I’m not well rested or I’m under a lot of stress.
That illness, whatever it is, they still could never agree, was the second most growing suffering of my life. There are lessons that you learn from long, steady suffering that don’t happen in every day life.
There were many times I cried out, how long Lord?? How long do I have to have this pain? How much will my muscles degenerate? When will I be whole? And most of all, when will I get answers? I cried out with the psalmist wondering where God was in the middle of my pain.
I think that I could get through anything if I knew how long it would be - like going to the dentist. I literally cried through my entire filling the last time I had a cavity. But I knew it was just a short while, so I could make it.
It’s those times when we don’t see an end that we begin to wonder if God has abandoned us. We feel forgotten. Because surely if God remembered what we were going through, He wouldn’t leave us this way! How could a loving and merciful father look down on His child and decide that they should suffer indefinitely?
And our emotions start to get the best of us. We start to believe that we have been forgotten. To believe that God is no longer good, or at best, indifferent to our plight.
The psalmist asks how long God is going to forget him. Can you hear his plea? How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? He feels forgotten, abandoned, unloved.
But instead of listening to how he feels, he reminds himself of what he knows to be true about his God.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
He decided instead to trust. To trust that God is being merciful. If you’re anything like me, that can be so hard in the middle of a long trial! To believe that God is still doing what’s best for me, no matter what it feels like. Long suffering doesn’t feel merciful. In fact, it feels the farthest thing from it! How could suffering be merciful?
It doesn’t make sense to us finite creatures who can only see the here and now. And that’s where the trust comes in. The trust that God is merciful and would allow the very best for us. So hard to feel. And that’s why he needed to remind himself of that.
He goes on. My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. It seems trite to say, but its true that if the only thing God ever spared us from was eternal separation from himself, he would still be a merciful God. The sufferings here are temporal, even if they feel forever. Our life here is but a vapour and is just a little while. Our salvation is eternal.
So he sings. And in his singing, he reminds himself that God has truly dealt bountifully with him. When he takes a look around at his life, his whole life, instead of just the suffering, he realizes that God is truly merciful after all.
It took me a few years, but eventually I was able to look at this health journey that God has lead me through as a blessing. It would be easy to look back now and say that since God seems to be taking it away, but around year three it was the hardest it had been to date. And still I was able to look at what God was doing in my life and count him a merciful father who had dealt bountifully with me. Even on the days I didn’t feel like it.
Are you in the middle of a long suffering? How can you look around at your life and see your bounty? Can you look up at your father and count him merciful? Can you see the bounty in your life?
You don’t have to feel it every day. I think you would have superpowers if you could! But you can consistently and objectively look at what you know to be true. God has not forgotten you. He never would. He is working in your life to create what only he could. All because of his mercy.
Thank you for joining me today. If you would like more daily encouragement, follow me on Instagram or Facebook @jensnewsong. If you hit the subscribe button on your listening app, you won’t miss an episode. And I’d love it if you’d allow me the privilege to send you a newsletter - it’s full of encouraging articles, the latest news about what’s happening here and on the blog, and it’s one of my favourite places to chat with my listeners and readers. You can sign up today at jensnewsong.com/join As always, all this information is in the show notes for you. I wrote this prayer, maybe you would like to adopt it as your own?
I thank you that you are a merciful father who has created a way for me to spend eternity with you. I thank you that you are continually moulding me to be more like Jesus, even if that takes suffering. I thank you for the every day bounty I see in my life, even in the midst of my hardest days. Help me to dwell on what I know to be true about you.