Sometimes the online world can be extremely misleading. Social media can often paint the picture that everybody has these perfect, beautiful lives and that every day is a breeze. I am not ashamed to tell you that, for me, life has been a struggle over the past few years. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that I suffered from as a teenager that I thought had gone forever. (I’ve since been told that I will have it for the rest of my life and although my symptoms can be managed, I may have further relapses.) I have watched many many friends get engaged, married and start to have children whilst getting to the age of 29 and still being single. The hardest test I had to face, however, was losing my father to cancer in February.
There have been times when my body has physically hurt from the pain, heartbreak, grief and sense of loss. I have been unsure of how to carry on with life, only being able to face one hour of a day at a time. So many tears have been shed that I’ve wondered how there can possibly be any more left in my body. At times, I have questioned God’s plan for me and have wondered how such a supposedly loving God could allow someone to hurt so much.
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But in the very darkest times, at the times I have felt the most lost, unsure, heartbroken and beaten down, there has been a light shining over me. That light is God’s word. It’s taken me a long time to learn that when I’m hurting, distancing myself from God because I feel let down by Him is just about the worst thing I can do. So in recent months, I’ve been trying something new. I’ve rejoiced in His word and worshipped Him through getting creative in the margins of my Bible. And it has given me peace and comfort like nothing else. You see, the more you read of the Bible, the more you come to understand about the character of God and His great love for you.
And one particular lesson that God has been teaching me over the past few weeks is that His heart breaks when He sees His children in pain.. He feels anguish over your situation and longs to hold, comfort and restore you with His love. When you are crying with despair, He is weeping alongside you. Like it says in the hymn ‘I stand amazed in the presence’:
For me it was in the garden
He prayed: Not My will, but Thine.
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.
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Just imagine that…the son of God being so overwhelmed with grief for your sake that he sweated blood before going to the cross for your salvation. Have you ever
known a love that rivals that? I certainly haven’t.
If you are suffering right now, I want you to know that love. I pray that you will feel enveloped in the arms of the One who created you and gave you life. I pray that,
through His word, you may come to understand that that in your suffering you become more like Christ because of how He suffered. And that all the while, He is
crying along with you, longing for you to lean on Him and His never-ending grace.
God be with you today.
In Christ’s love,
Steph xxx
28 Comments
  1. Terry 4 years ago

    …beautiful… thank-you for sharing real…

    • Stephanie Baxter 4 years ago

      I was so nervous being so honest but I think it’s good for us (especially women) to be completely honest and let others see that life isn’t always so rosy. Thank you for your support!

  2. Pam 4 years ago

    What a beautiful heartfelt post. I can only say I understand your pain and I’m glad you know the love of God. May He bless you always.

    • Stephanie Baxter 4 years ago

      Thank you so much. Don’t know where I’d be without God’s love…truly!

  3. Kim Wehlage 4 years ago

    Thank you so much Steph for being authentic and transparent. I agree that Social Media can paint a beautifully unrealistic picture of daily life. I am confident that the Lord will use your words to soothe another woman’s heart. You are dearly loved by our Lord.

    • Stephanie Baxter 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement.

  4. Jeanine 4 years ago

    Thank you! We ALL need to be in God’s word to remember and understand what Christ went through for us.

  5. jackie 4 years ago

    thank you for this! i really needed to read these words today. i love your page…very inspiring!

  6. Meghan 4 years ago

    That is a really nice Bible. Where could I get one like that?

    • Author
      Illustrated Faith 4 years ago

      Meghan it’s the ESV Journaling Bible and you can usually find them on Amazon but right now they are on backorder.

  7. Michelle 4 years ago

    What a beautiful story to come full circle like God had planned for it to.

  8. charissafaith 4 years ago

    This is so beautiful. His LOVE is so great!

    Love this website so much – found you on IG and enjoy following you there. So inspiring.

  9. Jill Faison 4 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this, Steph. I’m inspired by your story and can’t wait to get started with my own journaling Bible. I pray that you continue to find strength and healing in God’s word. :-)

    • Stephanie Baxter 4 years ago

      Thank you. It’s so humbling to know that God is using my heartache for His purposes…I praise Him for that! So thrilled for you that you’re going to embark on the bible journalling journey!

  10. Christa Sterken 4 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing today, it is so important for us to be honest about the parts of life that are disappointments…how else do we grow in our faith? Beautiful

    • Stephanie Baxter 4 years ago

      So true! Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  11. gayle 4 years ago

    Thank you for sharing…honestly. What verses have you highlighted above? Thanks!!

    • Stephanie Baxter 4 years ago

      Thank you. It’s Psalm 56:8: “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll – are they not in your record?”

  12. Sheri 4 years ago

    What a beautiful and poignant post. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart.

    • Stephanie Baxter 4 years ago

      Thank you for your lovely words!

  13. Carmen 4 years ago

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and also for your health issues. I love your transparency and think more of us should be that way. Why are we so hesitant to be real? Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Lindy 4 years ago

    Hi Stephanie , I am from documented faith (new to that too) . This really spoke to me so much. I faced cancer myself the last 3 year and a chemical spill from treatment that left me deeply permanently scarred on the other breast and 5 surgeries and 1 year and a half for the injury to heal. I am still healing in many ways. I know what you mean about the darkest times. I love all that you wrote . Thanks for sharing and inspiring . I agree too about social media always being so rosy and I often share my struggles for that very reason. To show it’s not all perfect and yet we can have joy and heal and make it during the storms .. bless you !

  15. Debbie 4 years ago

    God is using you in SO many ways. I also have a chronic disease. Once again God uses His Wonderful Words to comfort me-and you-and others! Thx! Ps 46:1

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