July 28, 2014

a hard pill to swallow

There are those who sit across from you in a restaurant booth and speak with such grace, you long for a way to keep all of their words with you, to carry them in your pocket and pass them out to others in need. Katelyn is one of those, and many months ago, she agreed to write down what God was teaching her through sickness. Her words have encouraged me so much, especially over the last few weeks; I am so grateful for her willingness to share them here.                                                  
~ post by Katelyn Britton  

As I look back over the past nine months of my first pregnancy, I recognize a few things about myself, about pain, and about the Lord that I hadn’t seen quite so clearly before. In His sovereign wisdom, He allowed me to experience pain like I never had before. Both relational breakdown and extended, intense morning sickness became instructive teachers. I know what it feels like to dwell in pain. But Christ, our comfort, is a very present help in time of need. There is one key, recurring maxim that I’ve learned and am yet learning is:

Life is in God’s control, not mine.

This is a hard pill to swallow, and it takes a daily dose of humility to accept what God may allow. However, it is a truth that must be embraced if one wants to live life well. I think that one of the most encouraging examples of this mindset is seen in the book of Genesis as it describes the life of Joseph. Not only do his brothers attempt to kill him and then sell him into slavery, but he is later falsely accused and thrown into prison! In the end, God exalted him to be in a high position of leadership. Though one might expect to see a bitter heart or a desire for revenge end of his life, instead we read in Genesis 50:19-21 that he said to his brothers (who were fearing for their lives):

“Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

In this passage, we find Joseph completely content to leave the details of his life in the kind hands of his Father. This includes the pain (past, present and future)!  How easy it is to think that if God really loves us then He will certainly spare us from ever needing to endure hard things in life. The often quoted “God doesn’t want our happiness but our holiness” is true in a sense, but I think the better phrase might be, “God wants our holiness to bring about our happiness.” Joseph’s life, though riddled with pain, is one that proclaims the message that God is faithful and good through it all. May we follow Christ through the thorns of life with joy and recognize that they are neither pointless nor unfruitful if we trust the Father to use them!

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

March 24, 2014

this far

Grateful for those who grab you by the hand 
and pull you away and pray with you until your fingers stop shaking,
those who show you how Jesus has always provided,
{ with 'enough wisdom, enough strength, more than enough of Himself' }
those who remind you that there is peace in trusting 
an uncertain tomorrow to an unchanging God. 

My soul, remember, remember the One who has brought you this far.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.... For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'" (Isaiah 43:2-3)

February 11, 2014

an update of sorts

It was a grace-sandwich: two pieces of unexpected comfort served up cold, smashed on the front and back sides of the kind of news that sticks in your throat and three months later is still hard to swallow.

It started with a phone call from my doctor, several missed calls, and the realization that our relationship is not an ordinary one. He’d called several days in a row, but I was studying, skeptical that he would have an instant fix that was worth walking out of class to discuss.

It was Friday morning when I called him back, and the receptionist stuck him on the line seconds after I said hello. He’d told me before that he keeps my chart on his desk, and it humbles me to think of him thumbing through stacks of paperwork, making sure my symptoms aren’t a match.

When he got on the phone that afternoon, he didn’t waste words: a new study showed that women with all of my main symptoms, cluster headaches and acute migraines and chronic fatigue, were experiencing excellent results, alleviated pain, with one pill. He called the pharmacy as soon as we hung up, and a few hours later, I felt great. Over the years, I had actually forgotten what it’s like to feel well, and at the realization, I wept.

I’ve been sick for over a decade, diagnosed with neurologic Lyme disease three years ago, undergoing treatment ever since. That night, as soon as I started to feel better, I called the doctor’s office and celebrated with nurses and texted the news to friends and family, and we praised God for how He heals.

The next morning, I woke up and awaited a similar response, assuming it would come after I took the second pill, but it never came. By the evening, I had built a blanket-nest on the bathroom floor and was unable to walk, sleep, eat. My body had rejected the medicine and reversed its effects, and my hope was replaced with a hurt I felt no one would ever understand.