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Are You Suffering? Read This If You’re Serious About Finding Healing.

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How do you handle pain and suffering in your life? Do you try to rush through it? Are you open about your feelings or are you a stuffer? Do you try to act like everything’s okay?

This is the first in a series of posts about the book of Ruth. In this post we’ll see how a woman named Naomi handles her pain. As the story begins, we see a little family move from Bethlehem to Moab because of a famine. This was during the time of the Judges when the Israelites’ faithfulness to God shriveled up like a wheat stalk in drought. (Judges 2:16-18)

Soon Elimelech died leaving his wife, Naomi, widowed in a foreign land. After ten years, both of Naomi’s sons died.

Three widows (Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah) with no inheritance rights = destitution and poverty. Their future was grim as black night at new moon.

Naomi heard that the famine had subsided, so she began her journey home to Bethlehem.

Honest Pain

In verses 8-13 of chapter one, Naomi urges her daughters-in-law to return to the home of their parents instead of going with her. She very clearly outlines the stark realities of her new normal as a widow.

It is absolutely impossible to miss Naomi’s agony. She puts it out there blatant and real . . . “I am too old to have a husband.” And “it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the Lord has gone against me.”

I love her “realness.” She expresses her pain honestly.

Walking Wounded

In the church today, I see a whole lot of people who put on masks and pretend to be okay when deep down they’re dying inside.

So many of us have people throw scripture at us when we’re in pain. We mistakenly think we need to act like we’re okay so we will appear to have earth-shattering faith. So we pretend – and we move on without dealing with the pain. As a result, we have tons of “walking wounded” in the church today.

My Pain

I have experienced many painful moments in my life. Some have scraped my heart mercilessly along rocky crags at the edge of the abyss. But I refuse to have the life sucked out of me in a toxic prison of bitterness. I have been seriously intentional about finding healing and wholeness – no matter what. I have found that there is an essential step to finding it. It’s a step many people miss.

Here it is: Go to the depths of your pain with God.

What does that look like?

1) Acknowledge that your heart is hurting. Feel the pain. Don’t sweep it under the rug.
2) Be honest with God. Tell him exactly how you feel. He can handle it.
3) Make a “loss” list. Write down every aspect of every loss.
4) Let go. Give those losses to God in prayer. Then make a ceremony of shredding it, burning it, or putting it away somewhere safe. (Follow the “loss” list with a “blessing” list when you’re ready.)
5) Be patient with yourself. Many will want you to move through grief within their time frame. Allow yourself all the time you need.
6) Make sure you don’t get stuck in your pain. At some point, you will need to move forward. If you find you can’t do this, seek professional help.

Last year, I met a woman in Joplin, Missouri who was struggling to recover in the aftermath of the tornado. I asked how she was doing. She started presenting a discourse of spiritually correct answers. She shared that people had been urging her to move on quickly – even while the sights, sounds, and stench of devastation still surrounded her.

I politely and gently encouraged her to allow herself to grieve.

Truth is, God performs his greatest work when we go to the depths of our pain and meet him there. It’s precisely in that place that He tenderly reworks our hearts. Eventually, he brings us up to breathe again. We cheat ourselves out of  some of the sweetest and most fruitful encounters with God when we skip past this step.

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

What do you think? How do you deal with pain? What has helped you find healing? How do you need to change how you “minister” to those who suffer?



  1. […] Ruth chapter one, Ruth became a widow. Widows in Bible times had no inheritance or property rights, so she was in a really tough […]

  2. […] that Ruth was widowed and left in a destitute […]

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