Let’s Talk About It: Study Guide Questions for Struck Down But Not Destroyed 01. Have you ever felt sidelined in your life by pain, illness, or disability? Does the author’s “Lament” on page 31 speak to you? 02. In “Describing Pain” on page 32, Roxanne describes her pain as an unwanted guest, who comes without being invited, and stays as long as it wants to; is there something like that in your life? Think about how you might describe your uninvited burden. 03. If you would like to, or if it might be helpful to you, try writing a short letter to God. What would you say to Him right now? Can you be honest and “real” with God without feeling like you’re being disrespectful? 04. The subtitle of Roxanne’s book is “Finding Hope in the Maze of Suffering.” Have you spent time in the “medical maze”? If so, what has been your biggest frustration there? Have you been treated with dignity, or have your symptoms been minimized or dismissed? What treatments or interventions have you found to be helpful? Have any been harmful? Do you resonate with Roxanne’s experience of hoping for improvement and then crashing into despair, if the treatment / surgery / intervention didn’t help? 05. In “Glimpses from My View,” page 134, Roxanne describes the social impact of her pain. Because her pain forces her to lie down in public places, people have at times reacted judgmentally to her disability. Because pain is invisible, people don’t understand how disabling it can be. Do you have a condition that marginalizes you at times? How does it affect you? Is there a social cost to be paid? 06. In “Point System,” page 247, Roxanne describes a method that she and Pam, her physical therapist, have developed to measure function each day. In Appendix C, they describe how to make your own point system if you have limited energy or function. Jot some thoughts down on a piece of paper. How can you budget your function or ration your energy in order to avoid “overdoing it” and having to suffer a flare-up of your symptoms. Play around with the concept. You can try novel concepts like: resting in advance of a special activity, or stopping an activity before symptoms set in. 07. Coping: Roxanne describes methods which help her cope with pain a. Simplifying her life as possible b. Sharing feelings with a friend c. Taking a warm bath or Jacuzzi d. Receiving a massage e. Deep breathing f. Listening to relaxing music g. Joining a support group h. Praying for strength and coping ability What things in your life help you cope? Can you make a conscious decision to use these coping strategies more often? 08. Support system: one of God’s blessings for Roxanne has been a supportive husband, Andy. With whom has God blessed you? A faithful friend? Parents or siblings? A caring spouse? An understanding doctor? A good church? Others? 09. In chapter four, Roxanne discovered that although her disability made her dependent on others at times, she also had something to give others. She used the word “interdependent” to describe this relationship. She needed help cleaning or cooking or caring for a baby, but she also had something to give to others: her love, her encouragement, a listening ear, a prayer spoken for others. If you have lost abilities, and find you can’t do as much as you used to be able to do, have you thought about the contributions you can still make? Perhaps you can befriend a child, visit or call someone who is lonely, or even join an internet-based support group. Your “presence” to another person may be your greatest “present.” 10. Travel to England (chapter six): Roxanne shares how she and Andy have traveled out-of-state for surgeries, and even to England for a new technology, which offered potential promise. Have you been hesitating to try something that might offer improvement for your condition? If so, do you think those hesitations are valid? What would you risk if you tried that option? Money? Time? Emotional resources? Physical risks? What does your risk / reward ratio look like? Ask God to give you wisdom as you evaluate options and make choices. 11. Compare “The Letdown” on page 175, with “Spiritual Surrender” on page 186. How has Roxanne’s view of her pain changed? How has it remained the same? Does she believe that pain defines her whole life, or is there room for other things as well? How has her relationship with God changed? Do you agree or disagree with her view? 12. In her conclusion, on page 219, Roxanne talks about suffering, and her earlier belief that suffering “carried a mandatory sentence of depression and anger.” She goes on to say that with suffering there is depression and anger, because the losses are very real and ongoing, but that is not all there is. There can be more. She lists, faith, hope, love, and joy as qualities in her life despite the suffering; they are gifts from God. Are there times for you, when suffering seems to be all there is? What can you do to make yourself available to experiencing faith, hope, love, or joy? Consider that love or joy may already be there, but can be more consciously savored, like fine chocolate! 13. OR, if you’re feeling really “beaten up” right now, would it help you more to express your very real losses, and emotional / spiritual pain? As Roxanne described her experience of despair, following her England surgery, sometimes losses must be grieved, before you’re ready to see other things like love or joy. 14. Roxanne refers to prayer throughout her book. What has been your experience with prayer? If you have asked God to relieve or remove your suffering, what has your answer been? Do you relate to any of the following prayer progression? HELP: Please God, get me out of this! Please take it away! PLANS: Show me where to go in my search for relief. Help me to decide which options to try, where to go next, whom to consult. COPE: Please teach me how to handle this distressing reality until it is resolved. Please give me strength to deal with it, one day at a time. TRY INTERVENTION: I'm trying this option, Lord. Please give it your blessing and protect me from harm. QUERY 1: Did You grant healing or relief? Yes! You have answered me prayer for relief with a yes! Thank you, dear God! I am so relieved and grateful to you for this gift. Please help me to use my life for your purposes. OR, QUERY 2: Did You grant healing or relief? No. It seems like your answer for me is no, or wait. Am I right in this understanding? ANGER: It's not fair! I hate this! Why me? Other people have it easier; they don't deserve ease any more than I do. SADNESS: Oh, God, I don't want this suffering to remain in my life! I'm grieving my lost dreams and the difficulty of everyday life. SURRENDER: God, You are sovereign. You know my life's purpose, and you have a plan for me. Your thoughts are far above my thoughts, your ways far above my ways. I surrender to you. I know you love me. * THANKS: Thank you, God, for giving me coping skills, a support system, and the ability to recognize and savor the blessings in my life. Thank you that you have promised never to leave me. * For Christians who know Jesus: There is the added comfort that Jesus knew suffering on earth. He's not a distant God who watches our suffering from afar. Now, as the resurrected, living Savior, He offers to enter into our suffering and to be present here among us when we struggle. He will give us comfort, strength, hope, and peace when we ask Him. 15. If you would like more ideas on prayer during times of suffering, here is a sample: Dear God, Thank you for leading me in my decisions and movements within the maze of suffering, even though I didn't get the answer I wanted. I find myself still in the maze rather than on the outside where I wanted to be. Thank you for other things you're doing for me, for other blessings and answered prayer which help me cope with my suffering. Thank you that you are creative and personal, and that you are at work in and around and through my suffering. Thank you that in your economy, suffering isn't wasted. It's a mystery as to how you use my suffering, but you do…maybe to soften a heart that's hardened; perhaps to inspire, encourage, or comfort someone else; possibly to show your glory and power; or maybe to change my character and teach me patience and trust. Whatever it is, Father, I surrender to you and to your purposes for my life. Help me to love you, the Giver of all good gifts, more than I love the gift, potential healing. Surprise me today with something that is good. Help me to look for your action with anticipation today. Give me even a taste of your gifts of faith, hope, love, and joy as I journey along my life's path. I love you, Father God. Amen 16. Do you derive any comfort from thinking of heaven as the "ultimate healing"? What do you project your new body to be like? What might you look forward to doing in heaven that you can't do now? Does the hope of heaven compensate for any of your isolation, losses of social interaction, or longing for adventure?
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