Overcoming Hopelessness after Spinal Cord Injury

March 4, 2019
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A consistent struggle for me since my injury on November 26, 2011, has been feelings of hopelessness. In talking with others who are paralysis survivors I think this is very common. The lack of independence and dignity that goes along with paralysis can be overwhelming and lead to these feelings of hopelessness.

But I realized that there is hope.

And I want to share with you how I overcome hopelessness on an ongoing basis.

Overcoming hopelessness is a major factor in thriving with paralysis.

But first, let me tell you a story about a man who suffered immensely in his life.

He was beaten with rods three times.

He was imprisoned.

He was stoned.

He was shipwrecked three times.

He was in constant danger and suffered through many sleepless nights.

Many times he went without food or water.

He was exposed to the elements and cold.

And through all the suffering he had a thorn in his flesh that brought him great pain and distress.

He begged the Lord to remove it from him and the Lord’s response was:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

This man was Paul who was an apostle and missionary. Paul led many people to Christ and started churches throughout the Roman world in the first century. Paul suffered much for his faith in Christ through four missionary journeys and eventually was martyred by the Roman Emperor Nero for his faith.

Paul did not suffer a spinal cord injury or paralysis but he suffered greatly and it was these words from Jesus that comforted him.

Let’s take a look at why.

The first thing he says is that God’s grace is sufficient for Paul. What is grace?

Unmerited favor. It’s giving someone something that they don’t deserve.

You see Paul was not always a missionary or a faithful believer in Christ but instead he was a persecutor of Christians and was responsible for the murder of many believers in Jesus Christ.

He was saved in a miraculous way on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians. After his extraordinary salvation experience, he was a changed man. The things he once loved he now hated and the things he once hated he now loved.

When I was saved on September 13, 2001, this was my experience. My heart was radically changed and I became a different person. I moved from death to life. I received God’s grace like Paul did.

And that’s why the Lord can say that his grace is sufficient for Paul and for me or you.

You see there is more than one type of grace. What Paul experienced on the road to Damascus was one type of grace but there are actually six types of grace.

Paul Tripp describes grace this way:

“You need it. You can’t live without it, but you can’t purchase it and you can’t earn it. It only ever comes by means of a gift, and when you receive it, you immediately realize how much you needed it all along, and you wonder how you could’ve lived so long without it.”

Let’s take a look at the six types of grace as this will help us to understand how this powerful statement that God’s grace is sufficient for us makes a tremendous difference in overcoming hopelessness for paralysis survivors.

THE GRACE OF FORGIVENESS

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God’s standard is perfection. You must be perfect to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is a problem because none of us are perfect so this leaves us guilty. So we need the grace of forgiveness to be declared guilt free. Jesus Christ went to the cross to carry our sin and to bear our punishment so we can experience complete forgiveness.

THE GRACE OF ACCEPTANCE

God not only forgives us but he also welcomes us into his family. He adopts us as his children and accepts us as his own.

THE GRACE OF FREEDOM

God’s grace also delivers us. Prior to salvation, we are slaves to sin. God’s grace sets the captives free, breaks that bondage, and gives us the ability to say no to sin.

THE GRACE OF GOD’S PRESENCE

Our father in heaven is not distant. God is present with us wherever we are. When you become a Christian the Lord gives you his Holy Spirit to dwell within you. The Bible says that he will never leave us or forsake us.

THE GRACE OF SANCTIFICATION

God reaches us when we are and takes us where God wants us to be. God is not content to give us salvation and then leave us alone until eternity. Instead, he wants us to become more like his son and work for the furtherance of his kingdom for as long as we live on earth. He sanctifies us through his Holy Spirit, the word of God, and other people to make us more like him.

THE GRACE OF COMPLETION

There will be a day when all followers of Christ will be fully restored to who we were meant to be. There will be no more sin and no more struggle. Everything will be restored and we will worship in the presence of this amazing God of grace. One of my favorite songs about this type of grace is by Jeremy Camp called “There Will Be a Day”. Read the words below to better understand the grace of completion.

“I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end, His word declares this truth,
That we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place,
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you're walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you've walked out all alone

Troubled soul don't lose your heart
'Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that's in store
Outweighs the hurt of life's sting

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
There will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place,
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

I can't wait until that day where the very one
I've lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I've faced
To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame
And misery, this is why, this is why I sing

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place,
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place,
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face

There will be a day, He'll wipe away the tears,
He'll wipe away the tears, He'll wipe away the tears

There will be a day”

If you would like to hear Jeremy sing this beautiful song you can go here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThkDlgIn3Mc.

So when Paul was suffering and he questioned the Lord about it why did God say “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”?

The six types of grace are sufficient for Paul and for anyone who is put their trust in Christ.

If you have received the grace of forgiveness, acceptance, and freedom you are a new creation in Christ.

If you have received the grace of God’s presence and sanctification than he is using your suffering for your good and his glory. He is making you more like him through your trials.

And if you have received God’s grace of completion then your suffering is temporary and there will be a day when it ends.

But he said something more to Paul not just that his grace is sufficient for him but also that his power is made perfect in weakness.

What does that mean?

It means that your suffering has a purpose.

That if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior then this suffering may be what leads you to him and eternal salvation. If you do not know him and you wish to know him the Bible says it’s very simple. Romans 10:9 says “that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved”. You will receive God’s grace of forgiveness, acceptance, and freedom through your confession and repentance.

But if you are a Christian then what is the purpose of your suffering?

Through the weaknesses that come with suffering, God’s power is made perfect in us. We are sanctified and made more like him. We get a deeper understanding of his presence in our lives. And we look with eager anticipation to the day when we will meet him face-to-face.

Suffering is not an accident. You have been chosen for this challenge.

When hopelessness overcomes you allow God’s grace to overcome hopelessness in you and remember that God’s grace is sufficient for you and his power is made perfect in your weakness.

Also, I want to encourage you to check out our Free E-Books by clicking the images below:

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About the Author: Bill Davis

Dr. Bill Davis survived a spinal cord injury on November 26, 2011. After years of hopelessness he found a renewed purpose and is now on a mission to share hope and healing with the paralysis community for the glory of God.

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