Sometimes it feels like everyone I know is going through a difficult time.
In fact, the phrase “rough period” occurs so frequently in my mind that I’m beginning to question its meaning. Is there such a thing as a period of peace or a season of joy?
I do not intend to belittle the suffering of those around me. Some of the people I love most have encountered loss, chronic pain, abuse, depression, and severe loneliness. A few of them have left behind one terrible phase only to walk immediately into a new one – through no fault of their own. I have been there myself: after completing an emotionally exhausting final semester of college, I dove straight into a period of anxiety that lasted over a year.
I remember sitting in my counselor’s office with tears streaming down my face. My soul was so tired. It had been a long time since I had walked around the house singing to myself or laughed – really laughed – at a funny conversation. Instead of offering a final word of advice as our session ended, my counselor looked at me with pain on her face and said, “Oh, Marie, this too shall pass.”
It stuck with me. I remember thinking, “She’s right. I won’t feel like this forever.” Even though I couldn’t see the end, chances were good that there would be an end. The future might hold other sorrows, but this one wouldn’t last.
Even though I couldn’t see the end, there would be an end.
The thing is, there are happy times in life. The Bible even talks about them. The book of Acts promises “times of refreshing” (3:19), and Solomon – one of the most depressed people in the Bible – wrote that there was “a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Why, then, is it so easy to identify people who are suffering and so difficult to think of a friend who’s in a good spot?
Part of the problem, I think, is that we tend not to notice happiness. Suffering is big, bad, and ugly; it sends us to our knees begging for relief. Good times, on the other hand, often come disguised as normalcy. When everything’s going well, we aren’t likely to comment. We share our urgent prayer requests and then forget to update one another when the storm passes.
I am living in one of the good times right now. It’s not a perfect time, of course – I still have healing and growing to do – but I have lost the slightly-nauseated feeling that haunted me last year. (Fun fact: I recently learned the difference between “nauseated” and “nauseous.” Look it up!) My prayer is that I would be able to enjoy God in the present as much as I needed Him in the past.
My prayer is that I would be able to enjoy God in the present as much as I needed Him in the past.
If you are going through something really hard right now, know that you aren’t alone. There are people who want to help. Your pain matters, and so do you. On the other hand, if you’re living in one of the good times – take note! Set aside time to celebrate, and consider sharing your happiness with someone. They may just need the encouragement.
The Reluctant Bride