Story - Angela N. - as submitted.
Will it be this way for the rest of my life?
Only one among innumerable questions I have silently asked the God of all creation concerning my condition.
There are oodles of memes floating around these days having to do with chronic illness. Namely, chronic pain. I've not seen them all, I'm sure, but I've not seen one that's off the mark either. If you've never heard of the spoon theory, I invite you to Google and read. It is very enlightening. In summary, it tells the story of two friends dining out together. One suffers from Lupus and pauses to take her medication prompting this question from her friend. "What is it like to be sick, to have Lupus?" Now, I do not have Lupus, and will not even claim to have any clue what that's like, but the unique explanation that ensued,well that I know all too well.
I know all about monitoring what you do today knowing how your body will repay you tomorrow. I know all about doctors who treat you as a drug seeker because when the one or two tests they run trying to locate the origin of your pain doesn't show them what you expect it to, they decide you're wasting their time. So to appease you, they write you a script and send you on your way and hope to not see you again. Only when you show back up with the same complaints a few months later, only more intense, they want to know if you have a "problem." You begin to think maybe they are right. Maybe it is all in your head. Maybe you are making it more than it is, until you overdo it one day, wake up the next and find you have to carefully maneuver your way out of bed, and you're pretty much resigned to spend the day on ice packs trying to forge a path through all the thoughts in your head about what is going on with your body, and why won't God just heal me, and as a child of God, we are not supposed to have to live this way...so am I not really a child of God? Am I doing something wrong? Is there some sin in my life I've not confessed before Him that is in the way of my healing?
You're finally forced, practically, to make that visit to a Pain Management Doctor simply so you can have a quality of life that's somewhat enjoyable. At that point, you no longer talk about it unless asked specifically from the few people who even know something is wrong, because once you say Pain Management, the connotation leaves you with judgmental looks from those who have no idea what it's like to want to be active and live life, but depend on a pill, several pills sometimes, each day in order to achieve that. So when they ask you, "How are you?" You smile this great big smile and reply, "Great! And you?" Yep. I'm all to familiar with the scenario.
I see the flip side as well. The one where you're fully aware of what continuous use of medication will cause, but you desperately want to play with your child. Take them on adventures. You really want to run that mile, hike that trail, ride your bike, make that long drive, do that workout, lift those weights. But God's not stepping in, for whatever reason, so medication it is.
Satan uses the opportunity to condemn you for dependency on medication as opposed to God, and knowing, knowing that God created your body, that you are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Considering the fact that He could take it all away at the snap of a finger, with just a spoken word, or even just His breath, breathed in your direction, you begin to question Him. You read through all the New Testament accounts of healing trying to find something, anything to cling to because whether healing or miracle, nothing is changing. In fact, it's only getting worse as the days wear on. You wonder, what if. What if I just stepped out in faith tomorrow and didn't take the medication and depended on God to get me through the day? I've tried that too. Dumped a bottle of pills down the garbage disposal after a Sunday morning service.
Then you wake up, and become aware of it all over again. Not because you escape it during sleep, but because during sleep you begin to hurt so badly from laying down so long that your body wakes you, and you have to move before you don't have that luxury. And the what ifs plague you still. What if the reason I'm actually waking up so early is because my body has developed this dependence on a chemical to make it through a day? But as you watch the sun rise through the front window from your perch on the couch, you realize that even taking the medication, you still hurt. It only takes the edge off. You begin to think that the medication just makes you feel better about hurting, but it's a catch-22.
This is where I was. Where even now, I still have a plot of ownership. However, as time has progressed, as I've opened up to more and more people, as I've sought counseling, as I've talked with The Father, that plot is decreasing in size. And I wonder now, not what if but where is He taking me? What is the purpose of making me walk through this?
Recently, I was going through my prayer journal and found an entry from a couple of years ago around this same time, where I had asked God, why me? And I didn't mean it from a place of poor, pitiful why me, God. What did I do to deserve all this? Though, make no mistake, I have asked that question many times. This time, however, it was more of a question of curiosity. One that came from having had a glimpse of what was to come and wondering, "But God, why me? Why did you choose me to take this journey, to walk this path?" What I have written as His answer to me is, "Because you are resilient. You do not realize your own strength. The strength I have gifted you with. You won't stay down. You will always get back up. You will always bounce back. You don't give up."
I am reminded of the account of the cripple in the New Testament. You might ask, "which one?" The disciples asked Jesus which one of his parents had sinned that had left their child with such a chronic condition for such a long period of time. Jesus replied, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." John 9:3
Even so, there are days when your measure of faith is great and there are days when your measure is so small, you think you are without completely, and so the cycle of questions begins all over again, until He gives you another small glimpse of things to come.
Each time healing has been mentioned in a service, you are sure to raise your hand, or go to the front, or stand up - whatever has been asked of you. When this picture plays out over and over again, you begin to feel more and more embarrassed. You feel like not being healed miraculously is a direct reflection of sin in your life. Doubt. You begin to doubt. Doubt God. Doubt yourself. Even doubt those you've gained counsel from. More and more, you feel your inner eyes roll when healing is mentioned in service. Less and less, you make that declaration of faith by raising your hand, going to the front, or standing up.
But throughout whatever this journey is, throughout the process of whatever it has led, or where it is leading to, one thought has remained very prominent in my mind. For three and a half years, God has brought Psalm 23 to me over and over and over again. Repeatedly I have heard Him say, "Be still." Each verse of that chapter has played out in my life in different ways in that time period. Each time one is played out, He brings me the particular verse that particular scenario relates to.
Lately, the verse that He brings me, or the one liner, rather, is "He makes me to lie down..."
But see, repeatedly, I have tried to "keep up." Get that workout in, hike that trail, go on that run, make that long drive, share that adventure with my son. Even hurting, I didn't stop. I would plow through the pain to keep "living." Determined not to let the pain dictate my life, and most of the time, at the cost of my time with Him.
So now, my question is, "God, is this You making me lie down? Have I run for so long that now you are having to force me to "be still?"
I don't really get an answer, but sometimes, sometimes when I ask, I feel Him smile.
To be continued.