Recent Stories

  • A Valley Girl: Yolanda Stith's Story

        I was born and raised in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of greater Los Angeles.  It was there that the term “Valley Girl” became popular.  It held special significance to me, not only because I came [more]

  • Roller Coasters – Emily's Story

    Brent and I had been married for 16 years. We had been through quite a bit. In the midst of many physical illnesses, we had two wonderful children who really have been a blessing. We were ministry minded and when we were turned down to move overseas to work with some [more]

  • Where is God in My Suffering? – Kit's Story

    My name is Kit Danley and I am the president here at Neighborhood Ministries. I come from affluent America. I come from a background off the lake, say in Milwaukee, both parents and grandparents were prominent Milwaukeeans. And as my parents tried to do adult [more]

In the Midst: Valleys

Mommy always told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  Well.  In that case, I suppose I should be silent.  In the last few days I’ve found myself whiney and depressing.  I despise being whiney and depressing.  However, that apparently does not cause me to stop having those days.

Those days where all you really want to do is curl up in a corner and stare at the wall (or at least the TV, which is essentially the same thing but far more acceptable).  Where if you have to paste a smile on your face and talk civilly to one more person you just might scream out loud like you are inside.  Where if you even manage to crack your Bible, you do so in a snit and harrumph your way through the passages on love and how great God is.

You’re tempted to believe that you’re going to stay in that valley forever. Regardless of the fact that last week was pretty good.  Or the fact that you’ve been in valleys before and always manage to find a way out.  There is something about being in the valley that makes you think it is never ending.

And that is where I am.  Is it where I have been? No.  Is it where I will be forever?  No.  But is it where I am now?  Yes. Yes it is.  And you know what?  I think that’s ok.  For now.  Not forever…but for today.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
“let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

-Psalm 22: 6-8-

Online Christian Support Groups: Don’t Waste the Pain

Here at Don’t Waste the Pain (DWTP is a ministry of The Navigators); we strive to focus on Jesus as the ‘author and perfecter of our faith’. Our desire is to help believers who are suffering loss or pain of any kind whether it’s due to a death, divorce or physical affliction. We seek the Lord for wisdom, direction and ways to encourage the hurting people who come to us. We are committed to addressing the deepest needs believers have in their struggles. We want to lead others to a more meaningful relationship with God and believe that dealing with pain and suffering opens a door to do just that.

Our DWTP team members are in various stages of grief. We have watched our loved ones and our children suffer and die from cancer. We have experienced the pain of job loss and divorce. We are victorious, not victims. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we strongly believe there are blessings to be received in the midst of our pain. We believe that God doesn’t waste anything that happens to us, but that he uses our situations and circumstances for our good. We are convinced that God is good!

We are just like you! Christians in need of support groups; looking to connect with others of like minds who desire to grow in intimacy with God even though we are struggling with pain in our lives. We have friends and neighbors whom we have helped, family members we have prayed with and encouraged. We have a lot of questions left unanswered, but we have learned some things about suffering and hope that our pain will be your gain. We welcome your input, suggestions, questions, testimonies and contributions of any kind.

If you are looking for meaning in your suffering; if you don’t want to ‘waste the pain’ in your life; if you are searching for answers and if you are interested in an online Christian support group; by all means join us at DWTP. Visit often, feel free to comment on articles and blogs and send in your stories for others to read. It’s simple to join the conversation. We have bible studies and small groups to lend support and encouragement to anyone who is hurting or knows of people who are in pain. We look forward to getting to know you and growing deeper together.

In the Midst: Scars

I was talking to a friend today and had the realization that I’ve come farther than I knew. Not just from this last stint with pain, but from the pain experiences further back. The ones I see more as ones that I caused myself…the places where my own sin caused my own pain rather than circumstances beyond my control causing pain.

And I leaned on the scars from those experiences pretty hard, and for the first time that I can remember…it didn’t hurt. It surprised me. I was able to talk to a friend, reliving painful things to help illustrate what we were talking about, and not feel the sting of that past pain.

It gives me hope. Hope that the scars that are healing now will someday be less painful. Be more reminders of how far I’ve come, the lessons that I’ve learned, and hopefully the help I can offer to another friend. I can imagine that as I walk down this road of faith, I am not done gaining scars. This is not my last painful experience. I’m fairly certain God promised us that one. But this walk is the one place where each scar makes us all the more beautiful and all the more complete. Yet another of the seeming paradoxes of the Christian life.

A friend passed along this video of Beautiful Things by the Michael Gungor Band. I love it. And not just because I’m pretty sure it opens with a didgeridoo. Check it out.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

- John 16:33-

Prayers for Loss

Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” What does that actually mean? When I am experiencing loss and in need of rest do I turn to Jesus to find it? Or do I seek my comfort elsewhere? My desire and prayers for loss in my life need to be focused on God and the rest only he can give. Could it be that in times of pain and suffering, God is drawing us tohimself? Why else would he say to “Come to me…”? I amnot saying that God is the one who inflicts pain on us, but I am convinced that he is committed to using our circumstances for good in our lives if we let him. How I wish my first response when suffering would be to turn to Jesus, but so often I try to work it out myself. It seems too easy to just go to him. There must be something I can do or should do. Eventually, I end up admitting my lack, my brokenness, and seek his face. Then and only then can I experience true peace and rest.

“…all you who are weary and burdened…” At one time or another all of us will experience these feelings and emotions. We will have to deal with pain and loss. It’s what we do in these times that make a difference in our lives. Are our prayers for loss focused on God and our desire to find comfort there with him? Are we able to admit we are hurting and cry out to him? Coming to the realization that we are weak is not easy, but once we admit it, God comes with his strength and comfort.

So when we are broken and turn to God what happens? He takes our pain and sorrow and in its place gives us peace and rest “…and I will give you rest.” We get to experience a depth in our relationship with him that perhaps we could not reach without going through the suffering. And if we are looking for his blessings, we will find them in the midst of our healing. I believe the goal is to live in this place of peace and rest on a moment by moment basis. It’s in our brokenness that God brings healing. In our weakness he is strong. If we can keep our focus in the right place, our prayers for loss will allow us to grow deeper in intimacy with God.

What are some of your ideas on prayers for loss?

In the Midst: Escape

Some days, I consider myself the Queen of Escapism.  Books, TV, movies, taking care of kids…whatever requires my brain to be elsewhere.  It’s safer elsewhere, right?

Sometimes, I don’t realize that I’m even running from something.  I just arrive at the end of the week with 6 books, 4 movies, and a season of M*A*S*H behind me wondering a)where I had managed to find that much time and b)what was I trying to escape.  Sometimes I just don’t know, something is whirring along in there, but I don’t know what it is.  Or at least want to spend the time it takes to figure out what the problem is and deal with it.  Sometimes I know exactly what the problem is and just want to run as fast as I can away from it…a sermon or a song that brings up unwanted memories, an inauspicious date approaching, catching another family member crying from their own pain and not wanting to “get any on you”

Essentially, I’m running from my pain. Somehow, my brain decides that it’s much better to push it to the side and pretend like things are just fine and dandy.  It’s safer that way, less hurt, less pain.  Well that may feel true in the moment.  But it is decidedly untrue in the long run. Or so I’m told. I’ve seen glimpses of this, when I’ve actually stopped and forced myself to face the pain. And come out the other side with insights and wisdom that I wouldn’t have had before.  But that doesn’t stop me from escaping again.

But in the end, which is more of a drain?  Running from the turmoil inside me or facing the lessons that God is trying to teach?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
-Psalm 13:2-

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