Several years ago, extreme fatigue and frequent flu like symptoms caused pain from head to toe and plagued my body for months.
In February of 2005, I sat in the doctor’s office waiting for my nurse practitioner. As soon as she walked in and asked how I was, my throat constricted with pent up tears. “I feel awful,” I said. “I hurt all over and I can’t sleep.”
She ordered general lab tests for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). “No wonder you’re depressed. With all you have going on, I’d be depressed too!”
Depressed? Oh no, I thought, something else to deal with! But the Lord reminded me, depression was more than a result from physical suffering. It was a spiritual battle. He prompted me to change my focus from worry to praise. It made all the difference in my outlook and helped dispel the darkness of depression.
Two of the four lab tests came back positive, but not the one specific to RA, which didn’t mean I didn’t have it. Apparently you can have a false positive or a false negative result. I was referred to a specialist in the field of rheumatology. With only a few in the area, I had a three month wait. Then, more testing and more waiting for lab results to determine if I had RA, lupus, fibromyalgia, or a combination of the three.
During one extreme bout of pain accompanied by sleep deprivation and mounting frustration while awaiting results the Lord led me to Isaiah 49. Tears welled up as I read verse 15. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (NIV) On my knees, face to the ground in my prayer closet, I imagined my head lying on the Lord’s lap and wept tears of thanksgiving.
He not only remembered me, He knew all about my struggle and would walk with me through the valley.
After three and a half long months I finally got the diagnosis; bed fellows, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. A well meaning sister in the Lord added to my pain when she implied I wasn’t healed because of sin or that I lacked faith. Thankfully my knowledge of God’s Word lifted me from the unnecessary burden. If sin is the reason for sickness, we’d all be on our death beds...
In James 5:15-16 one small word, “if”, is often overlooked and scripture taken out of context. “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned he will be forgiven,” emphasis mine. Jesus forgave my sins and I had no outstanding un-confessed sin. I fully believed that in God’s time I’d be healed, and if not, He’d enable me to endure the pain.
After suffering for nearly a year and a half from the time of my diagnosis, February 2006, the symptoms suddenly stopped, a result of the prayers of many on my behalf. Hallelujah!
Unfortunately, I still had more to endure. Coming off strong pain medications caused horrendous withdrawals. Right when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, I was nearly undone emotionally. At the Saturday evening Bible study my husband and I attend, a woman in our group, an ex-emergency room nurse, informed us that it would take six to eight months to get the drugs completely out of my system.
It's only been five weeks!
My heart dropped to my stomach.
I don't know if I can endure this Lord...
I struggled to keep my emotions intact. When we got home the withdrawals hit full force. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Pain wracked my body from head to toe throughout the night.
Knowing our church staff gathers for prayer every Tuesday morning, Monday I sent my pastor an email to make sure they had my prayer request in time. He wrote back that they would lift me up in prayer that night. I had forgotten it was the monthly Monday night prayer meeting (March). Hope filled my heart.
That night I prayed. Lord, please hear the prayers of your saints and take this from me.
Praise God, He did!
I experienced a true miracle. The withdrawals stopped. The Lord provided joy in the storm and my heart overflows now with the joy of restored health, thanks to His wonderful mercy.
The first of June at my six month appointment with the rheumatologist all my lab tests came back normal. A testament to the Rheumatologist of God's mercy.
I’ve personalized the first sentence in the first chapter of The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren—it’s not about me. Nothing touches us without being Father filtered. It's encouraging to know that He helps us cope to the end that His purposes are fulfilled, and understanding those purposes; the testing of our faith which brings deeper intimacy as we trust in him; no matter the situation.
Hang onto hope!
These tents we inhabit will one day be replaced with immortal bodies—bodies without pain or disease when God will wipe every tear from our eyes. If you’ve been blessed with good health, rejoice, because you never know if or when you’ll have to wear the shoes of suffering.
Lord, minister to my sisters who suffer pain and sleepless nights. Hold them gently. May they see your glory in the midst of their trial and sing praises to your Holy Name. Amen
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