You’ve heard the question, if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Sometimes I find myself asking, “If I’m suffering and no one acknowledges it, does that mean it’s not valid?”
I often have looked to the world to identify with my pain. I set expectations for my peers to respond to my feelings according to my ideal. And when they don’t . . . ?
A scripture verse set me free from this expectation and inevitable disappointment.
Philippians 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (emphasis mine).
I had probably read that verse numerous times before. This time it struck me differently.
This time, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart that I can have peace despite the willingness or ability of others to understand my suffering.
Jesus Christ will guard my heart and mind, people will not. It’s not their job. And I can claim the peace of mind and heart realizing this and releasing them from that responsibility.
When God says His peace transcends our circumstances, that doesn’t mean He doesn’t care.
Our pain matters to Jesus. Scripture says “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. . . . Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 35).
Jesus felt pain: physical, psychological and emotional pain. And because of that he can sympathize with us in our weaknesses.
When we expect people to give our suffering meaning, we will be disappointed. The enemy sets us up for disappointment when we look to others for validation, compounding our suffering.
And the stakes are high. We risk letting a bitter root to grow in our heart when others don’t acknowledge our pain the way we want them to.
The next time you’re faced with invalidated or unacknowledged suffering, let the opportunity draw you closer to God, whose validation counts for everything. Then sit back and enjoy the promised peace that transcends your circumstances.