Is it possible to handle depression and bodily pain without grumbling?
Someone who I love and respect recently admonished me for a pattern of complaining and negativity. Too often, in the company of others, I verbally cite how depressed I feel, or I mention an escalation of back pain due to spinal degeneration, or I lament a narrower window of productivity during the day due to sleep deprivation.
Following this person’s unsolicited input, I asked God’s Spirit to facilitate the necessary change in my attitude. I realize that such transformation requires a process over time, and some degree o failure is still inevitable. Yet if my grace-motivated effort results in the proverbial “three-steps-forward, two-steps-back” phenomenon, I’ve still gained one step in the right direction!
In God’s timing, within several days of my prayer, I came across the following story posted on Facebook. The story features Andrew Murray (1828-1917), a well-known Bible teacher and author.
In1895, Andrew Murray was staying as a guest in a home while on a preaching tour. One morning, he lay in bed because his back, injured a few years prior, was causing him severe pain. When his hostess brought breakfast to his room, she told him that a troubled woman had come to the house, asking for his counsel. Murray realized that he wasn’t physically capable of meeting with her and listening to her problem.
Murray handed his hostess a piece of paper and instructed her to give the note on it to the woman seeking help. He said, “I wrote this counsel for myself; it may be that she will also find it helpful.” Here is what Murray had previously written on the sheet of paper:
In time of trouble, say to myself, “First, God brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.”
Next say, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.”
Then say, “He will make this trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends for me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.”
Next say, “In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows.”
Therefore say, “I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, and (4) for His time.”
Mark Devers shared this story, which he had gleaned from the “Forward” to Ligon Duncan’s book, When Pain Is Real and God Seems Silent: Finding Hope in the Psalms.
Murray’s note to himself reminds me to apply more vigorously what I say I believe about God.
If God is good, that attribute doesn’t hinge on how I feel emotionally or physically, or whether He answers affirmatively when I plea for pain relief. Since He is sovereign, I must think through that trait’s implications for whatever trial I am facing. Though God is trustworthy, my habit of grumbling about my condition actually shows that I do not believe that He is worthy of my trust. (Ouch….I made the worst grade ever on this theology exam!)
In a nutshell, the Holy Spirit is using Murray’s story to convict and to challenge me, prompting me to mull over how to apply my theology.
Does the story affect you in a similar manner? If so, why?
Several years ago I wrote a review of a great book on gratitude, which is the polar opposite of complaining. Here is the link: