Take Heart

July 16, 2022 THE MMA TEAM

My gr
ip around the blanket tightens and I squeeze my eyes shut, willing the pain to go away. How much longer, Lord? I can’t take this anymore.

A dumb question, really, but I dont have the strength to fight anymore. The physical pain drowned the little energy I have, and my soul is weary just as much. I’m tired of waiting for better days. Tired of the innumerable stumbling blocks and setbacks on my road to recovery. Tired of watching other people live their lives while mine is on hold.

As soon as my heart cries out to the Lord, guilt gnaws at me. I’m being ungrateful and I know it. Forgive me, Father.

Other people with the same chronic illness can’t leave their beds at all. I at least get to do things every once in a while, even though only limited, plus I pay for it later with painful flare-ups and days in bed.

So yes, I am beyond blessed, but in the midst of suffering it’s sometimes just so darn hard to see. Especially when I look at how useless my body and brain have become compared to when I was still healthy and thriving.

Three years ago, the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, aka ME/CFS, ripped the rug out from under me. No more sports, no more adventures, no more working and no more serving people. Instead, it meant spending my days in bed because most of the time, I didn’t even have the strength to sit upright, enduring headaches,  nausea, brain fog, muscle pain and a bunch of other symptoms.

It also meant an odyssey from doctor to doctor without receiving any answers or help (not because they didn’t want to help but because there wasn’t anything to do), and a ton of medical bills that drained my bank account. And then there was isolation because socializing was too  exhausting.

I’ve come a long way since then and made some progress. Though I learned to live my life with the little energy I have, most days are still a fight. Taking a shower is a fight, brushing my teeth is a fight, focusing on a conversation is a fight. Not to mention the flare-ups where I barely have the strength to lift a finger and the pain is just unreal.

Easy to lose hope and believe that a life like thisspending about 80% of my days in bed—isn’t worth living. But here’s the thing.

In all this ugliness, God’s beauty shines all the more. He has given me His peace, the kind that surpasses all understanding.  He has taught me lessons which I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, and He opened a door for me to honor Him with my writingwhich was one of my wildest dreams I didn’t dare pursue until I got sick and all I could do was write.

So yeah, maybe from a worldly perspective, there isn’t much hope left. But from heaven’s perspective, things look a little different. All this suffering has drawn me closer to my Lord and Savior, and as crazy as it sounds, I’d choose affliction over health any day if it means I get to grow even closer to Him. (Someone please remind me I said that next time I’m in the middle of a flare-up...)

You might be in a similar situation where the hardship you’re going through doesn’t seem to have an end. I want to encourage you not to lose hope. Instead, cling to our Heavenly Father and trust that it’s true what He says: that for those who love Him all things work together for good.

This doesn’t necessarily mean He will take your suffering away  while you’re still on earth, but it means that one day, He will wipe every tear from your eyes and that there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelations 21:4).

So next time you find yourself lost in darkness, remember that God is greater than the giants towering over you, and nothing that happens is out of His control.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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1 comment

  • Jennifer

    Jul 24, 2022

    Thank you for sharing a part of your story, JJ. I love how you are fighting for hope, savoring the nearness of the Lord, and blessing us all through your writing, even through the loss of your old life. There is much beauty here.

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