>> Sunday, January 30, 2011
In a Junior English class we're studying about the slave trading all the way through their travels to America. As the teacher was giving an overview of what we would be talking about, the African Americans religion was on the list. She said that even though they were treated so badly, they held onto their beliefs.
I wanted to stand up and say, "Well duh!" I can't imagine going through hard times without God in my life. The enemy enjoys lying to us and saying that God doesn't care what we go through. What a lie! God is with us every step of the way, even when we turn our backs on Him for a bit. He's always there.
A couple of months ago I asked a few friends to write a testimony about their life with chronic pain, whether it's physical or emotional. A dear friend Sunny, from Texas, responded to my call and I want to share with you what she wrote.
“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”~Psalm 9:1-2
I have more specialists than there are colors in the rainbow. I’ve complained about this in the past, but as I recount all God’s goodness to me, my heart is lifted towards heavenly things and I see my situation in a new light. Having so many specialists, must just mean I’m extra special (silly grin).
There’s no name for my condition. There’s no cure for anything I have, no assurance as to whether I will get better, worse or if the current treatments will stabilize me. Presently, my darling husband gives me 1,000 mcg of B12 in my arm every 2 weeks. I take 50,000 units of Vitamin D every 2 weeks as well as 2,000 units/day (this is after discovering 50,000 wasn’t enough). I take 400 units of Vitamin E for my fatty liver and 5 mg of Crestor along with 200 mg of CO Q10 daily for my high cholesterol. Recently, I’ve been tested for a rare muscle disease and am awaiting results. It’s never ending. Most days I’m hurting and am completely wiped out by ordinary activities.
All this, and I’m only 41 years young, thin and work out regularly...as best as I can. So what’s a gal to do? Well, I could wallow in self-pity, whine and complain. Check. Check. Check. Been there, done that! Now what?Now, I turn my eyes, heart, mind and everything I have, towards Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust -- there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict men.”~Jeremiah 3:25-33It is good for me to sit quietly, endure this trial, and wait for His deliverance. I’m so comforted in knowing that God doesn’t rejoice in my affliction, but He rejoices that the flames of my afflictions burn away all the useless chaff in my life that doesn’t resemble my awesome Savior, Christ Jesus my Lord (John 9:3).
I am a wife, mother, friend, writer, a chronically ill person, and so many other things. While all these things play a huge role in my life, they do not define who I am. Since the day of my salvation, I am forever defined by my relationship with Jesus Christ. How I choose to live daily, demonstrates the measure of my love and gratitude towards God for the greatest Gift ever known -- Jesus Christ. Therefore I choose to worship Him while I wait. Even in my darkest and most painful moments, I choose to remember that my illness does not define me. It does not make me who I am, unless I choose to let it.
My joy is not set in the hope that one day I may be healed, but my joy instead, is firmly established in knowing Christ and being known by Him.
"Christ is our best friend and ere long will be our only friend. I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with Him"~ John Owen, 17th century Puritan and lover of Jesus Christ
Friday, a young man scooted a chair up close to me. It was clear he wanted some attention. He'd never done that with me before so I stopped what I was doing. For some reason, he eyed the map that is on the wall behind my desk. He pointed out where a friend of his lives, a friend that he knows online, probably from a game. Anyway, he pointed out Iran or somewhere in that area. I was feeling especially lonely and missing my very best friend, so I stood up and pointed out just how far away Mari lives from me. I pointed out Illinois and then I took my arm and swept it clear to the left of the map until I noticed I had left the United States a foot before. Wow.
I was looking at a world map, not a U.S. one. It put a whole new perspective to how far away she is. On my U.S. map at home, she's at the very edge of the universe, in Washington State. A lifetime away from me until I check out the world. Then I see it's not really that far. A mere 2,000 miles compared to another continent, that's nothing. It's a five hour plane ride. It's a phone call or text away. Even closer when we have the web cam up and going.
It's all a matter of perspective.
But...sometimes we don't see what we should. In the B90X reading on day 12, we learn about Balaam and his quite famous donkey.
Some men had come to Balaam because they wanted the Israelites cursed. God spoke to Balaam and said, "You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed." (Num. 22:12 NIV)
Balaam told the men the Lord wouldn't let him go. Soon they came back with even more men to 'persuade' this diviner (a man who attempts to gain insight into a question or situation by way of a standardized process or ritual, often considered witchcraft.) Well, long story short, God allowed him to go.
The next morning they set out on the journey. Balaam had his trusted donkey with him and they went along quite nicely until the pesky animal went off the path into a field. Another time he crushed Balaam's foot against a wall. The last time, there was no where for the donkey to turn so he laid down in the path. Balaam was spitting mad each time and beat the beast. Or the beast beat the animal. Whichever way you want to phrase it.
At long last, the donkey got to have his say, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"
The donkey spoke and Balaam answered. What's up with that? “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.
"Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown." (Num 22-28-31)
His trusted donkey saved him from an angel of the Lord that was in the road with a sword. The animal saw what was going on. He looked at the world with clear eyes, not clouded by the thought of money or fame and prestige, as Balaam's was. The donkey even continued to act on what was unseen by man even though he was beaten several times. I think I would have had much more to say to Balaam than this donkey did, and it wouldn't have been pretty, for sure. (Actually, when I read on, in Numbers 31, Balaam gets killed when the Israelites take vengeance on the Midianites. I wonder how the donkey fared? hmmmm....)
We have to live by faith and not sight. (2 Cor 5:7) Faith reminds us that God is with us. He is leading the way, when we let Him, that is. We need to look to God first and last and in between. Our perspective should line up with God's for us. It's all in how we look at our situation. We can cringe and cry and wring our hands or we can run to God, ask Him for answers and listen to Him and act according to what He says.
Quite often we have someone or something stop and knock some sense into us, much like Balaam's donkey. I'm thankful for those brave souls. I hope and pray that if God tells me to point something out to a friend, that I will be willing to do it, too. Hopefully no beating is involved!
Let's keep our perspective right. Spit shine those glasses so you aren't seeing cross-eyed and always remember to, "Walk by faith, not by sight." Let's strive to be more like the donkey than the diviner.