My Secret Weapon for Successful Suffering
The realities and hardships I have experienced as a ministry leader have been on a variety of levels. However, the most challenging level of suffering has been within my own home as I have faced tremendous on-going health issues alongside my husband and children. It has been one unique and difficult illness after another. None of it makes sense and all of it is a spiritual attack...of that I am sure. While we have seen tremendous victories in ministry with countless eternal impact moments, we have also experienced years of suffering through diagnosis after diagnosis that have caused physical pain, sleepless nights, emotional lows, financial strains, and logistical necessities that come with it.
Parenting six children with a range of struggles that range from H.I.D.S. ADHD/ODD/Delays to surgeries, non-stop viruses, and random injuries has been very difficult over the years. I have personally been through four surgeries, two miscarriages, and endless days of nausea, anxiety, and complications in each pregnancy. Additionally, my husband had a severe back injury while playing college football that led him to over 20 years of pain pills, four surgeries, and countless days of relentless daytime pain, and excruciating night pain. It’s been exhausting. It’s been frustrating. It’s been overwhelming.
It’s been exhausting. It’s been frustrating. It’s been overwhelming.
Thankfully, I have found a tremendous gift from God that has absolutely sustained me in supernatural and significant ways. What God has revealed to my spirit goes against the typical advice to “show them what you’ve got” or to “not shrink back!” My secret weapon for successful suffering comes in the form of surrender.
Why surrender? I surrender because I can’t control it all. I surrender because I know God will give me exactly what I need for each moment. I surrender because I know fighting back will make it worse. I surrender because I know I will be successful.
Imagine yourself being overwhelmed in a body of water and you can’t swim. You could fight for your life by flailing your arms, kicking your legs, and bobbing up and down but it will wear you out and you won’t survive. Conversely, imagine yourself floating on top of the water in a restful body position that stabilizes you for not only survival but to be in a state of rest for a long time. That is much of what I imagined on a daily basis as I surrender in order to succeed in my suffering. The more I fight on my own the worse things get. But the more I relax and position myself to the flow of the water, I am able to survive, breathe, and rest.
The more I fight on my own the worse things get. But the more I relax and position myself to the flow of the water, I am able to survive, breathe, and rest.
How can you surrender in your situation? Here are my Top Five ways to be successful in the midst of suffering:
Remind yourself you are human. You can’t control health, personalities, job issues, and struggles, so don’t take it on yourself to “fix it”. Just do what you can to the best of your ability then let the rest go. Let God be God. He will show up and work in you in the midst of the changes and challenges.
Remain in God’s presence. Make choices that welcome the spirit of God in your situation. Align your entertainment and media with “whatsoever is pure and honorable” Keep worship music playing or a podcast going to fill your mind with the things of God. Take time in God’s Word any chance you can get. Otherwise, you will be left to your own mindset.
Recall how God has always helped you. You have made it this far and God has always helped you. Elizabeth Elliot expressed it this way, “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain or sorrow and suffering, angry along with many joys, I am willing to take it because I trust Him.” You can trust Him.
Release your emotions. Surrendering doesn’t mean you ignore what you are going through. Expressing your feelings can be a next step to surrender. If you need to be angry, workout or talk to a friend or clean the house to burn it off. If you are sad, cry it out and allow yourself to go deep to work through it. If you are tired, cancel plans and sleep!
Remember that suffering makes you more like Christ. Phiippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” If our goal in life is to be more like Christ, then we can accept every hardship as a pathway. We truly can “consider it all joy” as James 1:2 encourages us. God is at work and whatever it takes to make us more like Him and less like this world is what we truly need.
In Isaiah 43:2 God assures His people, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…” The rivers of hardships are still there but we won’t be taken under! You and I both can relax. Surrendering frees us from the struggle. It is the power of God in us to solve all our problems and strengthen us along the way. He gives us all we need to be successful through our suffering.
Casey Gibbons and her husband Scotty have been sustained by God's strength as their family has experienced numerous health issues while homeschooling six children and serving in ministry as national leaders, authors, and pastors. They celebrated their 20th anniversary this year and live in the Oklahoma City area as Lead Pastors at People's Church. Outside of family and ministry, Casey is active in martial arts and is working towards her Black Belt.