As I pondered her situation, one thought stood out in my mind: Prayer. It almost sounded too basic - just pray? Yet as I discussed in my last post, it can become all too easy in our busy days to neglect to give God the time He deserves in focused prayer. As I formulated my reply to my friend, I realized that there will certainly be times in my life when I need to take my own advice. Whether we suffer from morning sickness, hormone swings, exhaustion, chronic pain, or injury, we all face periods where it is difficult to find a way to minister to others because our own trials are so great. In sharing the following paragraphs, which are excerpted from my email reply, I hope that you will be encouraged to seek the Lord in prayer even in the midst of suffering.
I was thinking about you this morning, and I believe God gave me an answer about how you can use this time for His glory: You can pray. It sounds so simple, but prayer is an important ministry that we often overlook in our everyday busyness. You may not be able to get off the couch and use your body for His service, but you can use your mind and spirit. Pray for your health and your walk with God, for your unborn baby, and for your children to know and love the Lord. Pray for your marriage, your relationships with other family members, for fellow believers, and that your life would bear witness to all those with whom you come in contact. Pray for our country and the government that makes decisions for us, especially as we approach the November elections that will determine our leaders for the next four years. Pray for those who are persecuted, poverty-stricken, and suffering all over the world. As awful as you feel, you can have a powerful ministry of prayer right from your chair. And when others see how you are relying on Christ to strengthen you through your suffering, God will be glorified. That certainly is not a wasted life!
Try not to place too many expectations on yourself that God is not requiring of you right now. It would make me absolutely crazy not to be able to get up and clean my home and take care of my children, so I'm sure this is difficult. But do use whatever help is available to you, and don't be too hard on yourself. Can your husband pick up some movies or books on tape from the library to keep your children occupied? Or you could get out puzzles, flashcards, and other activities that they can do independently or with a little help from you while you relax on the couch. If it helps, serve meals on paper plates to make clean-up easier. Make sandwiches or something from the freezer section for dinner - or order pizza. And do not be afraid to ask others for help. It is difficult to admit a need, but that is what gives others an opportunity to serve!
Rather than feeling useless because your body is weak, rejoice in your sufferings. Commit to fervent prayer and know that you are doing an important work, even when you must put other important works aside for a time. I also want to really encourage you to fill your mind with Scripture so that there is no room for Satan's discouragement and depression to sink in. Find a verse or passage that speaks to you and meditate on it day and night. One of my favorites for these situations is, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." And be sure to focus on what is true (and right, pure, and so on). God has allowed this to happen; He will give you strength to endure.
Dear friends, I pray that when you are weak in the flesh, you would be strong in the Lord. And would you join me in lifting up those who are suffering before our Father? Whether we are sick or well, let us commit to a faithful ministry of prayer for the saints, and know that it is all for His glory.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10