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God Knows Your Secret Struggles

God Knows Your Secret Struggles

[God] knows the secrets of every heart. — Psalm 44:21 NLT

I call the years from 2015 to 2017 my “worried-sick years,” because those were the years my mother was a caretaker for my father, whose health was inexplicably declining. We knew something was wrong with him, but none of the diagnoses made sense for the severity of his mobility digression. I also knew, cognitively, that I was not his fixer — that worrying myself sick wouldn’t do him or my mother any good. But sometimes we allow worry to boss us, and before we know it, it has infected our own bodies and minds. Worry had bossed me into thinking I had to manage the gravity of my parents’ situation, and, as a result, pulled me into a sickness of its own: with isolation, lack of exercise, and low-grade anxiety, to name a few symptoms.

My parents lived a mostly private struggle of my dad’s unexplained physical illness and my mother’s dutiful insistence to care for him to the detriment of her own health. It was understandable in many ways — they had little money, few resources, and a historically take-charge man in the equation who didn’t want random people taking care of him in a now-vulnerable state. There were no concrete answers about his condition, and the subconscious ingraining in that generation to not ask for help made matters worse. And so, my parents’ struggle continued from months into several years.

Not having enough money to pay their bills, Mom taught art to kids in her home for some minor income, after getting Dad safely situated in front of the TV for a few hours at a time. Between that and social security, it kept them in their home.

But Dad’s heart needed medicine, and these types of health problems don’t come cheap. Purchasing thirty-day supplies of the medication was out of the financial question. So every day, mom would make a trip to the local CVS Pharmacy and purchase just two of his prescription pills at a time for him to keep living. The next day she would go again. And the next day, on repeat.

For two years, Dad’s heart lived off mom’s daily trips to CVS. Two pills, every day for two years. Just enough to get by.

And for two years, Mom’s heart carried the heaviness.

No one on the outside knew about the two-pill-a-day ritual except for the pharmacist and God.

  • Our money trail often tells the truest tale of our hidden struggles.

The mostly homeschool moms who brought their bouncy, eager kids for their weekly art lessons with my mother wouldn’t have known — they were always greeted by the smiling, happy art teacher wearing an apron covered in dried paint. It wasn’t a lie.

Momma was happy because her joy has never been about her circumstances. It’s one of the things she has taught me: there can be moments of happiness and pleasure even with the companion of hardship.

This confuses people when they refuse to honor the both-and of life.

Life is hard and it is also good. They mostly live together.

No, the joy Mom had was specific. It was the core belief that despite the struggle, God is not unaware, and thus actively involved in the resolution of that struggle. That life was worthy to continue, even often in the dark. She had gotten used to the dark, quite frankly. Times were difficult for years. She had lived enough to know that God’s ways were not going to be on her timetable or within her understanding. But she also knew trusting Him helped her endure, gain strength where she did not have it, and continue to be hopeful for the future. So that smile for her
art students was, indeed, real.

  • We don’t have to fake optimism when we believe in God’s omniscience.

In these places of hidden difficulty, “God knows” becomes a quiet space of breath holding and prayers, where we trust for things like breakthrough, sustaining, and, if we dare, hope. We need God differently in these moments than when we want justice or to move past our past. Those things certainly prove equally in need of His omniscience. But urgency, rawness, and survival mark this particular space.

Sometimes our lives even depend upon it. Family members with a drug-addicted loved one only really have the hope that God knows their pain over it, that He knows their loved one’s enormous struggle, even, often, that He actually knows where their loved one is, since they haven’t heard from them in months. My friend Jessica hasn’t seen her meth-addicted daughter in a year. Summer came and went, without a word... then fall... and eventually, winter. Her Christmas presents remain unwrapped, waiting for her, if she ever comes to claim them. Spring brought flowers but no contact, and now it’s summer, again, and still nothing. The hope they cling to is that God knows where their daughter is, and He is caring for her in their absence. Many parents cling to this.

The idea of struggle meets us in different places. Some of us have skeletons that have been so carefully kept sleeping we are terrified to do anything to awaken them. The thought that a secret we hold could be outed brings mixed feelings. On one hand, most of us want to break up with whatever is hurting us, but on the other, we want to be left alone with what has become familiar to us.

Familiarity is the kryptonite of growth and often health and healing. It’s an epidemic in safe Christianity. A companion in most unchanged lives.

What we know often makes us feel safe and comforted, and that is not automatically bad. There is real benefit to a relationship that makes us feel known, wanted, valued, heard, seen, and loved, no matter what — all of which play into feeling safe. But those desires and the ultimate desire to feel safe is met through God. Only God can bring us lasting comfort. Trying to meet those needs through a secret habit is not only futile, but it is creating another entanglement that can take our reliance off Christ. More than one of us has fallen in love with something that we know good and well is bad for us, but we can’t seem to let it go.

And then some of us struggle with secrets that aren’t about things we have done but things that have happened to us that we desperately do not want. My friend’s daughter has an unexplained illness that they’ve kept mostly quiet, but it keeps the whole family in daily confusion and pain. They are desperate for change. The secret struggle of this group of us is not being comforted by a habit; it is craving any type of comfort or relief. Making sense out of seeming nonsense or worse, cruelty. Wanting to understand how God could have insight into their daily difficulties and not intervene.

I don’t know where you are with your secret struggle, what it is, or how it’s affecting you. But what I do know is that when you find yourself furiously trying to hide or ferociously trying to fix or defend it, it is time to bring it to light.

God’s omniscience allows Him a unique vantage point. He is aware of how deep in you are, how desperate, how much it will require His intervention to dig out — even more than you. So no, you are not alone in it. Someone already knows.

  • God wants to be our solution, in every way, no matter what our struggle winds up being.

Excerpted with permission from God Knows by Lisa Whittle, copyright Lisa Whittle.

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Your Turn

Your secret is no secret to God. Don’t try to hide it from Him; bring it to Him fully and transparently and let Him be your Rock and mainstay. God knows and He loves you! ~ Devotionals Daily