Silent Suffering in an Instagram World

Sometimes, we suffer in silence unnecessarily.

We’re too embarrassed, ashamed, or prideful to admit what’s really going on. We shudder to think about anyone finding out, afraid they’ll reject us if they know, so we refuse to tell the truth, put on a mask, and pretend everything is fine. These are the times when we rob ourselves of the comfort and strength that can come from sharing our pain in a safe place, hiding behind sinful pride when we could be helped greatly from the humble vulnerability that says, Everything is not okay, and I need you to pray for me.

 

The pain was almost unbearable. The smallest tasks overwhelmed me. I could barely focus through the fog to take care of my children. My whole world had been rocked, but I still had to function. I still had to do the next thing. And I had to do it all while hiding the pain in my heart, because no one else knew that anything was wrong at all.

Sometimes, our suffering is out in the open, and our pain is no secret. A car wreck. The death of a friend or family member, spouse, or child. A battle with cancer. A house fire. A divorce. We suffer greatly through these times, and everyone knows and sees how we respond. Our church family and other believers can encircle us with prayer and love and lend us their strength to continue walking down the path.

Suffering in Secret

Other times, and maybe even more often, our suffering is done in the secret places. Maybe someone hurt us deeply and they don’t even realize it. Maybe a wrong was done to us, but we chose not to make it public. Maybe it’s an unrealized dream that is breaking our hearts—infertility, another baby that died before we could even announce we were expecting, singleness when we long for marriage, another job or promotion that went to someone else. Maybe it’s a marriage that looks completely different at home than it does in public, a struggle with depression or anxiety, or even a private battle against our own sin.

Sometimes, we suffer in silence unnecessarily. We’re too embarrassed, ashamed, or prideful to admit what’s really going on. We shudder to think about anyone finding out, afraid they’ll reject us if they know, so we refuse to tell the truth, put on a mask, and pretend everything is fine. These are the times when we rob ourselves of the comfort and strength that can come from sharing our pain in a safe place, hiding behind sinful pride when we could be helped greatly from the humble vulnerability that says, Everything is not okay, and I need you to pray for me.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t a situation that we have the freedom to share, and we must stay silent out of respect for someone else. When I was hurting privately, it was because it wasn’t just my story, and to share my pain would be to betray someone’s trust. Sometimes, we just aren’t far enough down the road to share. Maybe we can tell others later what was going on, but in the midst of the pain, it’s too private and personal. For whatever reason, there will be times when your heart is broken and you cannot let anyone see.

These times can be particularly excruciating in the Instagram world in which we live. On the surface, everyone is so happy. Everyone has it all together. Everything is perfectly arranged for the picture, and the effect is beautiful. All we see is perfection, and all we feel is complete brokenness. So it appears that we are the only one struggling. The only one whose picture is distorted. The only one suffering.

Truth to Cling To

I think most of us really know that no life is as perfect as it appears on social media. And this isn’t a post that’s going to tell you to spill everything in public, to be completely real and post equal parts ugly and beautiful. Instead, I’d simply like to give you some solid truths to cling to when your life isn’t picture perfect, and you have a sorrow that can’t be publicized.

1. Your pain isn’t hidden from Christ, even if no other person on earth knows about it.

Isaiah 53 is a bedrock of hope for the suffering Christian, particularly one suffering in private. This chapter is one of the most beautiful, agonizing descriptions of the suffering of Christ. We focus on the fact that He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our sin and that His suffering was because God laid our iniquities on Him, as well we should.

But sometimes we miss the simple fact that He suffered—and what that means for our suffering. He was well-acquainted with grief. He was a Man of Sorrows. And right after this description, nestled in among all the descriptions of what He suffered for us, we read these words: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (v. 4).

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