As a natural-born introvert, my tendency is to withdrawal within myself. When pain and heartache come, I tend to push away from the crowd and spend hours inside my mind. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, and I certainly don’t talk about my emotions. I will get through this all alone, no matter how long it takes.
For years I thought I was the only one who felt like this in the world. Then I noticed recurring conversations with people, often within the confines of my offices. They would tell me of deeply personal struggles that I never imagined them going through each day. One would speak of marital troubles, and another would tell me about their children, and still others with addictions of some type.
The idea came clear to me the other day, and I stopped to write it down. The truth is that numerous people are suffering in silence.
Maybe that is you? Maybe that is someone you love? If it is, I would tell you a few things.
1. It is okay to suffering alone. That is not what you might imagine me to say. Honestly, I think it is good for people to process what is going on within their heart and mind. Think about it. Pray about it. As I read the psalms, I often picture David on a hillside alone with a pen and a parchment pouring out his heart to God. I little self-reflection and critical thinking can be good for the soul.
2.God has not left you. Some of Jesus final words to his disciples in Matthew chapter 28 are a challenge. His disciples are to go into all the world making disciples. It will not be an easy job. In fact, it will come with persecution and hardship. There will be nights alone and frequent criticism. Jesus ends his call to service with some comforting words, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
No matter how dark life gets, Jesus has not left us alone. He is there in our pain. He hears, and he responds to our suffering. It might not be in the way we imagine with a loud voice and a violent shaking of the earth, instead it might come in the small quiet voice within our soul. Even when you feel alone, you are not. He will never leave you or forsake you.
3. Some people want to help. You do not have to suffer alone. I would tell you as a Pastor that if you have gone for weeks and weeks suffering from the same issues, I would seek help. This help might come from a friend, a family member, a Church member or a professional like a counselor. I would bet money that there is someone in your life who would love to help you. The challenge is not to find someone to listen; the hard part will be opening yourself up.
From personal experience, I know that the suffering in our soul can often be greater than physical pain. It can torment us day and night and slowly drive us crazy. Sometimes silence is golden, and other times it is deadly. Take time to reflect on your pain and know that God is there with you and we are here if you need us.