"Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me." -Psalm 66:16
This month marks 4 years since I got really sick and had to quit working, had to give up "normal" life, and began a journey I never would have chosen. November has become a sort of anniversary for me...'celebrated' with sadness that it's been another year and I'm still not well, but also with gratitude for the good things God has done through this trial.
4 years...it's hard to believe. In the beginning I thought it would be a short-term problem, hopefully resolved in a few months. Gradually as time stretched out and I saw doctor after doctor who just didn't know what to do for me, I began to realize God had a very different plan in store than what I expected. (Basically there's more wrong with me than most doctors can fathom. How I got this sick is another story, but my health has been under attack from various things since high school. What happened 4 years ago was just the final straw.)
The first two years were like being in a tunnel with no light at the end. I kept praying and trying just to hold on to what I knew was true. Then two years ago at Thanksgiving God gave me a breakthrough, not in my health but in my heart. Finally I could see the light, not at the end of the tunnel, but beside me in the darkness illuminating the next step. The Lord showed me that His purpose was to use the physical trial to bring not just spiritual "growth" but spiritual transformation--deep change from the inside out! Until then I couldn't see just how desperately I needed God to change things on the inside of me (thoughts, desires, hopes, fears...).
Once again, I thought at first that this process would be a short-term one, a few changes and then I'd be good to go (not perfect, but better somehow?). As the months went by, the Holy Spirit kept revealing more and more areas of my life He wanted to transform. The Lord showed me that it's a life-long, continual process He does in me so that others can see His power at work. He always uses some sort of tool to do His transforming work. Right now for me it's serious health problems. It's not the tool I would have chosen, but it's the one He knows is best.
It hasn't been easy. I've had days of pure agony physically, emotionally and spiritually. There were days I didn't think I'd make it through and days when I didn't care if I lived or died. I questioned God, I wept, I begged for mercy, I despaired.... Through it all He never has forsaken me. He has also given me days of pure joy in Him completely apart from my circumstances, moments of insight, greater freedom and intimacy with Him...and so much more. For these things I am deeply grateful.
As I face another year of this trial (and possibly longer), I can't help but think of all the things I miss. I miss little things like walking to the mailbox, cleaning the house, going shopping, driving a car.... I miss having the strength to talk, the ability to think clearly, the enery to sing, the fun of staying up late.... I miss really important things like spending time with family and friends, going to church, being involved in ministry.... I don't know when I'll be able to enjoy these things again. But I am thankful for the greater riches Jesus has given me of inner transformation and deeper intimacy with Him. Whatever the next year holds in store, I know that my Heavenly Father knows what is best for me.
Amy Carmichael said, "So does our...Beloved, choose out of all possible circumstances (and they are all at His command) the best for the fulfillment of His purpose...However things may appear to be, of all possible circumstances, this in whose midst we are set is the best that He could choose." (from "Rose From Brier")
I believe this is true. I am confident that God will continue to use the hardships He allows to bring the transformation He desires, and thus bring glory to His wonderful name!
So by His grace, I can say - Happy Anniversary, glory to God!
"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." -Psalm 9:10