This is going to sound really strange, but as I was reading your letter I found myself thinking, “this is a really great letter.” It’s great, not because of all the pain and suffering you are experiencing, but because of all the strong desires to run to God, to find shelter in God, to find meaning and help in God. The Bible is full of characters who suffer and are in pain. The great ones run to God and find their help in him. In fact, it is virtually impossible to open the Bible and find someone who isn’t suffering. God is always there, holding out his hand, offering to come alongside and relieve the momentary pain. “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).
You sound like a woman who is well read and Biblically literate. You undoubtedly know the answers. Perhaps you’re simply listening to yourself and your situation instead of talking to yourself and telling yourself where to run and how to do it. But just in case you need to hear it from someone else, here goes.
I don’t know where you live or what your marital or family circumstances are. You mentioned children in your letter, but I have no idea how old they are. So, these comments are assuming a perfect world, lots of time, and a flexible schedule. You’ll have to write back and give me more information and we can tweak these suggestions.
Bible study–Change the way you study the Bible. If you aren’t studying it, start. If you are already, do something different. If you are simply reading it, study it. If you are studying it, but it has become dry and empty, change your goal. Your study may have become an academic exercise, something you do because you’re supposed to, not because you want to. Change your mind about that, want to. But more than that, if it has become academic, make it personal. Instead of studying the Bible, study the God of the Bible. Instead of looking for information about God, strive to get to know him and to become like him. Pray through the text as you’re reading. Ask God to turn you into a Peter, walking on the water in victory. Ask God to turn you into a Paul, boasting in God’s grace as you joyfully live with a thorn in his flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says that Paul took “pleasure in his infirmities.” Ask God to make you into a Job, with no family, job, home, or godly friends. Ask God to give you a rejoicing, grateful, holy heart. Walk with God. View everything you see, hear, and think through the lens of God and the scripture. When you hear that a friend has ADHD, translate that into idolatrous habits, lack of self-control, feelings oriented. When your friend tells a story, be thinking and asking, “where is Jesus in all this?” When something in your home goes badly, instead of grumbling or complaining, thank and praise God for the reminder and opportunity to call out to him. Choose to work to make everything in your life revolve around Jesus as God instead of you, your husband, the kids, or the circumstances.
You’ll notice, if you go back through this that I’m not saying things like, “let Jesus be Lord.” I’m saying, “he is Lord, choose to live that way.” I’m saying be aggressive, offensive, go after it, attack.” There are many passages that talk about the Christian life as if it were an athletic event. You can’t compete in an athletic event if you don’t practice to win, resolve to win, go after winning, and then to go out and win. There are many passages that talk about the Christian life as if it were a war. The same goes here. We don’t fight wars by being nice and careful and sweet and kind. We can’t win unless we are ruthless, terrible, aggressive, no holds barred, no surrender, no letting up, no relaxing, and no backing down. We need to be that way in our Christian walks, or Christian runs.
If you are married, love your husband by respecting him and submitting to him. If he isn’t respectable, find something about him that is respectable and tell him about it. Look for things he is doing well, find two or three every day, and tell him about them. Become his cheerleader, talk him up to the kids, brag on him to your friends, do everything you can to please him—without sinning. Study both the passages that talk about how wives are supposed to treat their husbands, and study why they are to treat them that way. Also, look into the examples and metaphors that talk about wives throughout the Bible and imitate the godly wives.
Love your children. Remember that you’re not simply giving them a home, you are raising eternal beings whom you would like to be with you in glory. Remember that they are people too and that what you say to them, always has eternal consequences. Study the Word to see what that means. Don’t just study the passages that directly tell you how to be with them, also study God’s example of how he treats his children and imitate that.
Find a church where you are supported in your desire to run with God. If you can’t find a church like that, find a church that is as close as you can find. Join it, get involved in it, serve others in it. Let the things you are learning and changing into at home, come out all over the folks at the church. Remember that there is a higher right than being right. Love the folks where they are in their walks and don’t expect them to be where you want yourself to be in five years. Let your love for them overcome your desires to see them be perfect. Don’t judge God’s other children. Lift them up to him, care for them, love them into change. Don’t push, let your light shine on them, but don’t shine your light on them. Encourage the pastor and leaders, promote them, be their greatest cheerleader, be helpful, not condemning. If they are doing or teaching something you don’t agree with, never let them know. Just serve them cheerfully and faithfully, letting God work in their hearts as they strive to know him better. And pray for them.
Life is hard. Suffering is everywhere. Sin is terrible. But walking with God is the only way we can live in a fallen world. Always fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your mind on him. Fix every fiber of your being on him. When you get tired, let him refresh you. Sing songs, pray prayers. When you can’t remember any songs, buy a song book. When you can’t pray, pray someone else’s prayers (Valley of Vision springs to mind).
Again, great letter. I’m praying for you. I hope this helps. Feel free to write back and ask questions.