Don’t Rush To Easter Sunday

I am writing this post on Holy Saturday, a day that is engulfed by the anguish of Good Friday the day before and the victory of Easter the day after. On Friday, I began to see tweets and Facebook posts that triumphantly declared, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” I saw one tweet from a famous author that said, “Day turned to night. His friends scattered and death thought it had won. But heaven just started counting to three.” See Tweet.

Look, I understand what we are trying to do. We know Jesus wins. We know there is an empty tomb, and we don’t want to dwell on the darkness before the celebration of the moment when we declare, “Up from the grave he arose!” Our rush to Sunday has always bothered me though, and it bothers me even more as someone who suffers from chronic illness. The rush through Holy Week feels like a microcosm of a society-wide tendency to refuse to sit with grief and the refusal to sit with those who have no choice but to experience it.

We need to slow down and absorb the profound despair and grief that engulfed the first disciples when their Messiah and friend had been publicly executed and his body put away behind a sealed tomb. We need to remember their fear as they hid from dangerous authorities and had no idea what was next. At the very least, we need to experience these days leading up to Sunday so that we can cultivate a deep sense of empathy for those who are experiencing their own battle with despair, fear, and hopelessness.

I am not suggesting that we act as if the resurrection has not happened. I couldn’t live a day denying the risen Lord. No, I am suggesting that we slow down enough to appreciate the price that was paid so that we could have the hope we celebrate on Sunday. And I’m suggesting we use these moments to lean into our own suffering and fears so that we might better understand ourselves and others.

Another tweet I read summed it up well, “Don’t use Good Friday to anticipate Sunday. This isn’t Advent with pregnancy giving us hope of a new beginning. If we look past Friday we leave thousands of hurting people on the margins, unheard in their despair & dismissed as too negative in their grief.” What he said about Friday goes for Saturday too. See Tweet.

It is good to consider why God waited until the third day to raise Jesus from the dead. He could have raised him sooner. Perhaps, God just wanted Sunday to be the day. However, these intervening days are given as grace to those who are hurting or grieving. Grief and pain are not ungodly. They are our companions in this life, even as we await the final resurrection, even if we often act like we want to forget.

P.S.: If you are reading this on or after Easter Sunday, here’s a post that fits better for that occasion

Posted in Lament, Resurrection | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Conversation With Esther Smith

Esther has been a friend of our ministry for several years. She even contributed a chapter to our Leader’s Guide (session guide for support groups). Esther battles chronic pain and is an LPC, who uses her professional expertise and personal experience to minister to others who are hurting. She is a published author on chronic illness and other subjects. Please check out Esther’s website for information about her books and other chronic pain/illness resources. It will be well worth your visit.

From EstherMarieSmith.com
  • When did you first begin to experience chronic pain/illness?

My experience with chronic pain and illness began in fits and starts. Without going into the whole saga, I can think of symptoms that I now connect to my current illness that started as far back as middle school and reappeared at different points in high school and college. More significant symptoms started for me in my early twenties and it was also around this time that a chiropractor injured my back. It took about ten years or so of significant symptoms before I was finally diagnosed with lupus and hypermobility syndrome.

  • How would you characterize your faith at the beginning of your struggle, and how has your faith changed as a result of chronic illness? How has God walked with you on this journey?

My chronic illness has impacted my faith in different ways at different times. There was a time after my back was injured when I was struggling with severe pain and significant limitations. I remember thinking to myself, “Something needs to change. I need something to help me through.” And this led me to really reexamine my faith and what Scripture had to say about my suffering. I started to do a lot of writing that centered around trying to understand what God was doing and this was a time when my faith really grew. I strongly felt my need for God and experienced a dependence on him I had never felt before.  

In more recent years, I’ve had new symptoms flare up that have been less physically difficult, but more difficult on me spiritually. Instead of feeling a desire to run towards God, I’ve experienced more sadness, confusion, and weariness. The struggle feels long at this point. When old symptoms flare or new symptoms pop up, I start to think, “Ok God, how long is this going to last? Haven’t I learned everything you need to teach me?” I still trust that God is working, but I feel physically and spiritually tired.

What encourages me is knowing that God’s closeness to me has never depended on me. I know that he walks with me no matter how I feel. No matter the season I am going through. No matter the strength of my faith. No matter the amount of my doubt. His nearness has never rested on my spiritual highs and lows. It has always rested on who he is and what he has promised me. That is something I hold on to lately.  

  • How did your training and career as an LPC (licensed professional counselor) assist you in dealing with this difficult challenge? How did that become a catalyst for helping others? 

I went through the process of becoming a licensed counselor at the height of my symptoms. The years I was going to school and training to become licensed were my worst years of chronic pain. Driving to work and counseling for a few afternoons each week was extremely difficult for me physically, but also so beneficial to my mental and spiritual health.

At that time, there was no way around the fact that most of my energy needed to go to my own self-care and my own upkeep of my body. But I also needed a place where I could serve others. For just a few hours each week, I would mentally set aside my own struggles and focus on other people. I think this really helped me avoid the potential trap of becoming too inwardly focused. Counseling was and continues to be a way I experienced what Proverbs 11:25 describes—“Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

  • Tell us a little about resources and points of emphasis in your ministry to those dealing with chronic illness/pain? 

When I first started struggling with my health, I found a lack of resources that really seemed to get what I was going through. This has led me to direct much of my ministry towards helping people cope with the physical, spiritual, and emotional impact of living with chronic illness.

Over the years, I have done a lot of writing on this topic. I have written two self-published booklets and a devotional that address topics such as grief, work, rest, self-care, shame, guilt, and faith within the context of struggling with physical health problems.

Recently, I also started an online Christian meditation class for people who struggle with stress, anxiety, and chronic pain/illness. This eight-week class helps people learn meditation and other skills to help them cope with their struggle in a way that aligns with their faith.

I also serve people through online counseling. I use EMDR therapy and biblical counseling and have seen that combination be very helpful for people who live with chronic health struggles.

  • Share a little bit about your new book coming out. What is it about and can it have any application to those with chronic pain and illness? 

I am so excited about my new book coming out this May! It’s called A Still and Quiet Mind: 12 Strategies for Changing Unwanted Thoughts, and it definitely has application for people who struggle with chronic illness. Chronic illness doesn’t just impact our bodies. It impacts our emotions, our faith, and also the way we think. Often, it leads to unwanted thoughts about ourselves, God, and our circumstances. My goal in this book is to help people practically know how to deal with a wide range of unwanted thoughts that come up for various reasons. Anxious and depressed thoughts. Intrusive thoughts. Sinful thoughts. Thoughts connected to past trauma. These are all categories of thoughts that commonly occur within the context of chronic illness, and my goal is to help people know what to do with them. 

Thank you, Esther, for sharing your story and perspective with us! We pray that God will continue to bless you in all the ways that you serve Him!

Posted in Chronic Illness and Mental Health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Conversation with Emily Maurits

Photo from CalledtoWatch.com

At Broken and Mended, we’ve known Emily for several years now. Emily even contributed one of our group sessions for our Leader’s and Participant’s Guides. She originally presented it to our first support group in the Spring of 2019. Emily is an emerging author, having recently published two books and has a website dedicated to encouraging those “Called to Watch,” loved ones who support their chronically ill family and friends. Check it out at CalledtoWatch.com. Emily is from Sydney, Australia. It is good to have a friend on the other side of the world! Here’s our interview with Emily below:

  1. Share a little about your story. What happened in your family that brought you under the impact of chronic illness?

From the time I was little I knew my Mum was different to other mums – she couldn’t come to school events or take me out on outings – even though she wanted to. By the time I was old enough to understand what ‘chronic illness’ was, it was an experience I had lived beside for many years.

  1. What are some ways your faith was challenged or changed through this experience? How was God walking with you? 

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a Christian household, but as I began to read the Bible for myself, I grew angry. I saw a great disparity between God’s character of kindness, and his promises to bring joy and healing, and the pain I felt and saw as I witnessed my mum’s loneliness. After many years, however, I was convicted that if I knew God to be good and kind (which I did) I had no choice but to trust that he was doing something through this situation, and wasn’t sending it just to bring suffering.

  1. Tell us about “Called to Watch” and how God put you on a path to minister to those who are supporting loved ones with chronic illness? 

In my teenage years, as I began to grapple with the fact that I was living and witnessing something a bit different to others around me (chronic illness in a family), I began to search for resources online. Everything I seemed able to find at the time was directed to ‘caregivers’ – a label I didn’t identify with – and focused on the trials of aging parents, which again, wasn’t quite my experience.

As a result, I was forced to grapple with and answer my own questions, frustrations, and hopes. I had to turn to the Bible myself and think things through. As a result of these efforts, I began Called to Watch – in the hope that anyone else in my situation might be able to find something, at least, if they turned to the internet – even if that ‘something’ is just a ‘me too’.

  1. How were you discovered as an author? Was there a connection to “Called to Watch” and the opportunities to write books? 

I think it was less ‘being discovered’ and more ‘putting myself out there’. When my sister was diagnosed with an operable brain tumour at the age of 16, I wrote a memoir to chronicle our friendship and faith during that time. After much prayer, I approached several publishers and editors at a Christian writers conference, and by God’s grace received both good feedback and a publishing contract.

With my teen biography of Thomas Clarkson, I approached a publishing house that I knew was publishing a series of teen biographies and went through their submission process, which eventually (and again by God’s goodness) ended in acceptance. 

It was helpful having been actively writing at Called to Watch for a long time before this because it taught me that however much I might like what I write, if it’s not easily understandable and accessible to others, there’s no point in ‘putting it out there’.

  1. Tell us about your recent books. Why did you want to write about Thomas Clarkson? What was it like writing a memoir about your sister and mom? 

I wrote ‘Two Sisters and a Brain Tumour’ because I realised that God had done a great work in our lives – he had sent a brain tumour to answer a prayer I had prayed many years before. I wanted to write the story down as a testimony, not only to the fact that God sometimes chooses to answer prayer in unexpected, even painful ways, but that he is faithful both before, after, and during the experience of that answer.

It is always difficult to write about people who are still living – to be both accurate and kind. It was emotional and took a lot of humility: asking my family for their input and permission, and listening to their feedback, but it was worth it!

For Thomas Clarkson, I felt a different sort of responsibility. I was challenged to write his story because I could not find an in-print biography of him, and I had seen what an encouragement his story could be! God worked so powerfully in transforming and using his life. Yet Clarkson has been dead since 1840, and so I couldn’t just ask him to make sure I got my facts right! Instead, there was a lot of research, a lot of prayer, and a lot of double-and-triple checking. I hope that when I arrive in heaven, he thinks I’ve done his life justice! 

6.  What’s coming down the road for you? Anything new for your ministry or additional book projects? 

This year I’m publishing monthly on Called to Watch – a series of posts about Self-Care for caregivers and watchers – a topic I’ve become increasingly passionate about.

I’m also completing the final year of my Masters of Divinity, and am doing a research project centering around the theology and portrayal of Christian hope in literature. I find academia very exciting!

I also have a second teen biography coming out, hopefully this year. Olaudah Equiano worked beside Thomas Clarkson to fight slavery, having witnessed it firsthand, and I hope his story will inspire many to trust God whatever life throws at them.

More important than any of these, however, I pray that God will continue to grow me in godliness and in the enjoyment of Jesus’ presence. How can I write for him, if I am not becoming more like him?

Thank you, Emily! Here’s Emily’s author page, if you want to check out more information about her books!

Posted in Interviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chronic Pain and Losing Control

I decided to take charge of my health. In early 2011, my 35th birthday quickly approached. I don’t know what came over me, but I couldn’t be satisfied with the fact that I recently enrolled in martial arts classes. I’ve always been an all-or-nothing kind of guy, so I decided to start training for a 10K too! While this might not seem overly ambitious to some of you, I existed at near-zero physical activity for many years and moved to strenuous workouts multiple times a week nearly overnight.

I considered myself healthy, so getting healthier to me just meant getting fit. Chronic pain and illness were the furthest things from my mind. Combined with diet, my new routine began leading to rapid results. I lost a lot of weight and felt better than I had in years.

When I first injured my hips, first my left and then my right, I assumed it was due to pushing too hard and a lack of flexibility. I still did my belt tests in Taekwondo. I ran my 10K. I assumed some rest after the 10K in June would heal my hips. I took two months off that Summer. When I resumed physical activity in early August of 2011, I knew there was something unusually wrong. The pain had not subsided one bit. Soon I was forced to give up running and martial arts. All of the control I thought I had over my physical destiny was fleeting away.

Same event as the 10K five years later (2016). My boys and I walked a 5k in this one.

I won’t give the whole story. You can read that elsewhere if you are interested. Even then, I thought if I could just figure out what was wrong, I could fix it with surgery. We tried that, but I didn’t get better. Ultimately, it illuminated the underlying cause. My hip problems did not stem from a lack of flexibility but a complex mixture of at least two autoimmune diseases.

Many of my readers and participants in Broken and Mended have similar stories. I often hear healthy people talk flippantly about what they are going to do or accomplish with their bodies. My oldest son (18) works out constantly with a body builder’s motivation. I don’t chasten him for it. I am proud of him! I wish I had been that driven at his age! However, I know how quickly our illusions of control can come crashing down. It is especially humbling when it is your own body that goes to war against your health.

When we lose that slippery grasp on control, we are probably going to feel sorry for ourselves for a while. I certainly did. Sometimes I still do, but I have also learned the value of physical humility. I am wiser than my 35-year-old self. Wisdom became necessary just to survive a more difficult life. I am also more compassionate to fellow sufferers. And I don’t take for granted what I CAN do now.

In a convicting and sobering admonition James, the brother of Jesus, warns us not to talk arrogantly about what we will do and where we will do it. “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil” (Jas. 4:15-16).

I did not choose the journey I am on, but I am thankful for the hard lessons that came through it. None of us controls even the next moment of our lives. Chronic pain is an expert teacher on that subject.

Posted in Chronic Pain | Tagged | Leave a comment

What’s Coming In 2022!

I am excited to share our goals with you for this year. These are not merely resolutions that turn out to be pious wishes. We really do plan and pursue each of our goals! We met or exceeded each of our goals in 2021. We give thanks to God for allowing us to do that. This year’s goals are even more ambitious and will serve you in more varied ways. Here’s a sneak peek:

1. Increase visual presence through an updated professional website and traveling display

The traveling display is for recruiting and fundraising trips, but the website is a big deal for everyone. We are in conversations with a professional website designer, who could take our website to a whole new level: Original content and collaborative content in the form of blogs and podcasts, additional content for support group leaders, e-mail newsletter subscriptions, video conferencing, members-only content, and more. We want a website that you will want to visit multiple times a week!


2.  Recruit and sustain ten active support groups

The support groups remain the heart of this ministry. We want to expand what we are doing currently by reaching into new churches and communities to start Broken and Mended support groups, who, in turn, will be connected to our network and ministry as a whole. If you are interested in starting a group in your location (can be virtual-only or hybrid–virtual and in-person), check out our page here.


3.  Establish a weekly digital presence

By forming a team of people who are interested in contributing written content and/or participating in podcasts, we intend to share new content every week. Likely, we will alternate between blog posts and podcasts every week. The podcasts will also include a transcript for anyone who needs it or prefers to take it in that way. Though this is a goal for weekly content, it will take some time to put in place the plan to accomplish this. I definitely cannot do it on my own!


4.  Fundraising for and hiring part-time staff to assist with social media, correspondence, recruiting, and fundraising

The website development is going to cost a lot of money, but as the ministry grows we also anticipate needing to hire staff. This will increase our ability to grow the ministry through new financial partners, as well as the reach of the ministry through support groups. It means more personal and consistent support for everyone!


5.  Develop the next phase materials plan for 2023 and beyond

I have already started creating new content (2nd book/participation guide) for additional curriculum for support groups. I don’t think we will need it for 2022, but we could need it for 2023. If we are going to have it for 2023, then we will have to create the content and make the plan in 2022. One exciting possibility is the creation of video content that could be streamed and an accompanying participation guide for you at home. This would be a game-changer for starting support groups.

Pray For Us!

Will you join us in praying for these goals? Ask God to guide us with his vision and wisdom as we humbly follow him in “connecting hurting people to Jesus and each other.” If you have a chronic illness yourself, please join our Facebook Group. Find the link on this page. If you will consider being a financial partner, check out our online donation page or send a check (see instructions at the bottom of the page).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Broken and Mended

This website was previously only a blog, but slowly became a place where I could share information about how to join our local support group, even if you lived far away. But a lot of things happened in 2021, and this website will no longer be only a blog. I will still write posts or invite guest writers on a regular basis. Also, check out our podcast “In The Seams.”

Now that we have been blessed to expand Broken and Mended to other locations this becomes the hub to learn how to be a group leader and apply to lead a group, get to know our staff and board, learn about the Broken and Mended story, check out other helpful blogs and resources about chronic pain, and make a tax-deductible donation! Just see the tabs above!

2021 has been an eventful year! We incorporated as a nonprofit, formed a board, published our first two books–a leadership guide for group leaders and a participant’s guide for group members–, developed multiple informational materials for recruiting new groups, started our first groups outside of Woodward, and updated our website!

If you are hurting, we are sorry that has been your lot, but we are glad you found us. At Broken and Mended we strive to connect hurting people to Jesus and each other. Please reach out to us at info@brokenandmended.com. We would love to hear your story and discover how we may serve you!

Cover Design for Leader’s Guide
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lamenting Travel Loss

I became heavily involved in a mission’s organization when I was 23. Before that I had hardly traveled anywhere, especially out of country. Then for six straight years I went overseas for extended periods of time, mostly in Asia. One summer I was gone for two and a half months to Singapore, Malaysia, Micronesia, and Japan. I loved it!

I discovered that I was pretty culturally adaptable and more fascinated by different cultures than intimidated. After I left my work for that organization, I went on additional trips to Brazil, Japan, and Thailand over the years. But chronic pain came for my love of travel in 2015.

I was fulfilling a long time desire by going to Shanghai, my first trip to China. The problem was that my ankylosing spondylitis was at an all-time worst. I could gut it out everyday at work, and I honestly hoped that the excitement of the trip and joy of traveling with my best friend, Chris Blair (along with another good friend and elder, Jim Chandler) would override concerns about pain. I was painfully wrong.

The fifteen hour flight to Shanghai were 15 of the most miserable hours of my life. When we finally arrived, I was so stiff that my hips were screaming out in pain with every step (and we walked a lot). The hips got better in a few days, but then every moment I sat in the coffee shop reading the story of Jesus with Chinese nationals was agonizing.

Honestly, when I think of that Shanghai trip, I normally remember the good things. Chris was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2019. So, I can never regret that trip, but I wondered if I could ever muster up the desire to go again.

“Birthday Party” in Shanghai. Chris and I are on the far right.

Not all is lost. I got better. I went to Recife, Brazil in 2019 and did much better than Shanghai. But I was recently reading a book that encouraged intentional travel (something more thoughtful than mere tourism), and it brought me to tears. I realized for the first time how much something that I loved was taken from me. I honestly would rather just stay home than even take short trips most of the time. Not only is pain a factor, but so is fatigue.

If you are reading this and you don’t have chronic pain, please learn to be understanding of your friends and loved ones in chronic pain. When they tell you they can’t go, they mean it, even if it is just an outing on the town. Sure, sometimes we can push through fatigue and pain to do something, but it is always costly.

My wife and I with kids at an orphanage in Recife, Brazil (2019)

I asked our Facebook group about their travel loss due to chronic pain. I gave several options but 72% chose this statement, “I loved to travel before chronic pain and my desire and ability to do so has been curtailed significantly.” Granted, it is a small sample size (even for our group), but I believe that a similar percentage would be found among chronic pain patients in general.

One respondent added, “It is a major loss” in the comments. I have to agree. Anytime that an illness and/or pain takes some joy from you so much that it even alters your desire to engage in that formerly joyful activity, it is worthy of lament. It is necessary to grieve a loss like this. Lament helps us to come to terms with what chronic illness and pain have cost us.

You might feel better some day, but you will probably still be skeptical that you can enjoy the trip without difficulty. The fact is that our losses are real losses. And the only thing short of complete healing in this life that can restore them is a “new heaven and a new earth.” Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Posted in Chronic Pain, Chronic Pain and Grief | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How Chronic Pain Changes Our Experience of Time

I am a student of the primary biblical languages (Hebrew/Greek). One of the differences between languages is how verbs reflect time. English is a very “tense” conscious language. One of the earliest concepts we learn as elementary students is the difference between past, present, and future tenses.

Other languages aren’t necessarily this way. The tense in Hebrew can often only be determined by context. The Hebrew language focused more on “aspect” than tense. Aspect is the type of action the verb indicates. Is it a completed action? Then the verb will be inflected in the perfect form. Is it an incomplete action from the past or future? Then it will be conjugated as an imperfect verb. Accepting the risk of being overly simplistic, if Hebrew is on one end of tense emphasis spectrum (that is, very little) and English on the other, then Greek might fall somewhere in the middle.

Why this excursion into the grammatical concepts of time and tense? It is a reminder that attitudes about time are largely cultural. Languages do not even express concepts about time in the same way. This is a healthy reminder to any who have been made to feel of little value because they cannot produce in keeping with the cultural expectations of Western society that you are more than a bang for your buck ratio. Cultural attitudes about time and productivity are relative to the culture that gives them birth. They do not represent a universal value or worth.

Koine (Biblical) Greek uses two primary words for time. According to the gold standard dictionary for Koine Greek (often abbreviated BDAG), kairos means “a point of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology.” When you say something like, “This has been a season of sadness for my family,” you are talking about kairos time.

The other Greek word for time is one that you are probably familiar with, even if you didn’t realize it is Greek. Chronos is where we get our word chronology and, of course, chronic, as in chronic pain. Here’s what BDAG has to say about chronos: “an indefinite period of time during which some activity or event takes place, time, period of time…a long time.” When we think about sequential ongoing time, we are thinking about chronos time. Chronic pain is pain that goes on for a long time and for usually an indefinite period of time.

Is It Chronos or Kairos Time?

Chronic pain and illness usually impacts the season of our lives, the kairos time. When I am in a flare, that defines not only the sequence of time but the quality of my time. It is damaging to my kairos. Chronic pain is usually defined as pain that is ongoing for at least six months even after an injury or illness has been treated. Most of you reading this are long past that initial six months and are stuck with ongoing and undefined pain.

I recently saw someone lamenting on Twitter about her battle with chronic pain. It was new, and she still hoped for a cure. Yet, she already understood for the first time in her life that chronic pain is no laughing matter. The constant battle with pain and limitation will tax your mental and emotional energy like few things can. If we have to endure it at all, we want our pain to be a season, when in reality it has been chronic.

However, after experiencing chronic pain for a long period of time (chronos), we begin to understand time (kairos) in a different way. We understand that time is valuable not because of a clock but because it is limited. We are mortal, and that clock is ticking whether we acknowledge it or not. Those in chronic pain face their mortality on a consistent basis. And through their pain, comes the grace and wisdom experienced only in suffering.

Senator Ben Sasse wrote in his book The Vanishing American Adult, “Suffering offers us a wake-up call. It imparts patience and humility and puts us in our proper place as servants and stewards of something greater than ourselves.” As you witness others around you who are still under the influence of the lie that everything is under their control, thank God that you have been delivered from that delusion.

Perhaps, it is ironic that in losing our mastery over time (chronos) we finally learn how to “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16, Paul uses kairos in this verse). In other words, we learn what is important and how to make our limited time count for what really matters.

Posted in Chronic Pain | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Struggle For Women to Be Believed


I watched the entire Oprah interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry a few weeks back. I have learned the hard way that just because someone seems believable doesn’t mean they are telling the truth. But it surely still means something when someone comes across as believable and sincere. Both Meghan and Harry came across that way to me.

Their most explosive revelation was that someone high up in the royal family had expressed concern over whether their baby’s skin would be too dark. This was said to Harry and then repeated to Meghan. For their part, they refused to reveal who in the royal house had raised the racist concern. Though I’m sure damage was done to the reputation of the monarchy, they could have named names. They appeared to be taking the high road.

Honestly, I would have taken no further note of it except the next day was full of high profile (mostly British) celebrities claiming Meghan was lying. Piers Morgan became so angry in his accusation that he ended up resigning from “Good Morning Britain.” There were many others making similar accusations, who had no way of knowing whether what Meghan claimed was true or not.

Let’s back up a moment. Who made the claim? Meghan was only repeating what Harry told her. Harry confirmed the story to Oprah (the first part of the interview was just with Meghan), but no one was calling him a liar. Why was Meghan the target and not Harry. If Meghan was lying then so was Harry (or even maybe just Harry). Why were so few people willing to name him the liar?

It could be that Meghan drew fire because she is an American, but it could also be, in part, because she is a woman. Why I am writing about royal intrigue on a blog about chronic pain and illness? Because I have heard again and again from women who are not believed by medical professionals and others concerning the pain they are experiencing. The same experience certainly happens to men, but it is much more likely to happen to women. This conclusion is not just based on a hunch. Studies back it up.

The reasons for this bias against women are varied, complex, and go beyond the scope of this post. And I know Meghan Markle’s story isn’t the same as being doubted by a doctor. But whether it is a story like Meghan’s, victims of sexual abuse, or disbelieving someone’s experience with physical pain, it seems harder for women to be believed than men.

Today is Easter. The first witnesses of the empty tomb were women. A woman’s testimony was not even allowable in a court of law. Yet, God purposely chose women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. He chose those who would be doubted simply because of their gender. Jesus’ own apostles rejected their testimony:

Mary and Mary Magdalene standing at the entrance of the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter morning

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.Luke 24:9-11 (Biblegateway.com, NIV)

Nonsense. But that’s who Jesus wanted telling his story first. God places a premium value on the word of women.

It isn’t that we need to believe the word of a woman more than a man. A good starting point would be that we believe the word of a woman as much as the word of a man. One of the most powerful gifts Broken and Mended can give women is to let them know that in this ministry you will be believed. Men and women owe that much to one another. And it is for that kind of culture we will strive.

We hear you. We believe you. We support you.

Posted in Resurrection, Women and Chronic Pain | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Your Illness God’s Plan?

Someone recently told me that they had been told all their life that “God’s plan is always the mitigating factor in one’s life.” I heard someone else claim that her life-altering stroke was God’s plan for her. I know many others who would recoil at this kind of suggestion. How could it be God’s plan for me to suffer? They may even decide, “If that is who God is, then I don’t want anything to do with him.”

Some draw great comfort from the idea that God has everything planned out. Not everyone in this category is necessarily a five-point Calvinist, but they likely have a robust view of God’s sovereignty. These people can deal better with tragedy and setback by emphasizing God’s plan in all things. They don’t necessarily think God causes all things, but for them, God wouldn’t allow it if it wasn’t part of the plan.

Others are comforted by the idea of God entering into our suffering, the one who empathically hurts with us. They are likely to see many things in our world that are not the will of God. They aren’t trying to doubt God’s sovereignty, but they are not comforted by the thought of their pain being part of the grand design.

Is Everything That Happens to You God’s Plan?

Where you fit into this spectrum is greatly influenced by many factors, including your faith upbringing, personality, and experiences. I am not sure that the Bible gives us a clear answer. There are some examples of someone’s suffering serving a greater divine plan like Job and obviously Jesus. But when you read the Psalms you encounter a great many people who simply do not believe their suffering makes sense at all. Psalm 10:1 opens with “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

The Bible is fairly resistance to giving answers as to why something terrible has happened. What is modeled is crying out to God in our distress and resolving to trust him when we don’t have answers. Clearly, not everything that happens in this world or in your life is God’s will. Why else would Jesus teach us to pray, “…your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The prayer recognizes a gap between God’s heavenly will and what is happening on earth. The prayer seeks to close that gap.

I make it a point not to challenge someone if they tell me what has happened to them is God’s will. After all, how would I know? I also never tell someone what has happened to them IS God’s will. Again, how would I know that? The tension between the sovereignty of God and the various happening on earth, good and bad, remain in tension until the reign of God is fulfilled in a new heaven and a new earth.

Image result for why god
Do we trust God when we don’t get an answer?

I know it is not God’s ultimate will for any of us to hurt or be sick. And that one day we will be in a new heaven and a new earth where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4). I can’t figure out why this thing or that thing happens to me or to you, but I know that God is good, and his will ultimately prevails. And I will trust him as we await that glorious day!

Posted in Character of God, Chronic Illness and Spirituality, Theodicy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments