I've been needing to write this post for a while, so be warned, it will be lengthy...
I was told very recently by a friend that I have been through more stuff than anyone else she knows. Endometriosis. Gut-wrenching issues with parents. Miscarriage. Major financial struggles. Cancer. Major financial struggles. More family issues...
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
There is a book I read that said something along the lines of: Until we come to terms with suffering as the lot of our days, we are missing a significant part of who Jesus is and what He wants to give us of Himself. If you read scripture, you see that suffering is a byproduct of living in this fallen world. Suffering, sickness, and death all entered in the Garden of Eden. And the plan of God from the beginning was to rescue us through Jesus. We chose our own way. He made a Way for us out of the hell we created for ourselves and deserved.
That Way endured greater suffering and pain than any of us have ever known. Not just in the crucifixion, but in enduring God's wrath of all of man's sin from the beginning to the end of time. And when we come to Him, we somehow think we should be spared. The "good guys" should be spared, right? But God says that all my righteousness is "as filthy rags." There is no one righteous, no not one." So who am I again? Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword...Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:34, 39).
He must become greater. I must become less.
I decided a long time ago that I wanted Jesus. More than anything. I decided He was worth whatever it cost me because He not only gave up everything for me, but He continues to pursue me, love me, and wants nothing but His perfect plan for me.
No one wants to believe that a good God would allow suffering. But what else do we make of what Jesus did? Obviously there is something pure and holy that comes from suffering. Something redemptive. Something good. So, somehow, suffering equals good.
We can't get it because we are sinful. We are fallen. We shy away from pain. We fear. We fear because the author of fear (Satan) doesn't want us to believe that God is inconceivably, undeniably, unequivocally, all the time GOOD. We don't allow ourselves to fully trust the only One who has ever truly, fully, completely loved us. The One who wanted to rescue us so much from ourselves that He gave part of Himself, His own flesh and blood, for our sin.
I'm overcome by the Spirit as I write. I SO long for my friends around me to get this. Not just the atheist, the agnostic, the Buddhist, or Muslim...but the person sitting in church every Sunday who knows the story of the cross really well, but has never truly given themselves over to the cross and to Jesus. Or the Believer who really does know Jesus, but is afraid of what He might ask of them. I want us to step into this new thing He wants for us. He is GOOD. Believe Him! He won't call you into anything that isn't a part of His perfect plan! He is good. He is good!!
So this brings me to now.
A week ago God started something in me, in His goodness. He was preparing me for something hard. I was at a conference Saturday night and God started giving me scriptures like this: "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance" (Psalm 32).
He was warning me and preparing me.
In His goodness.
Tuesday morning my husband came home for lunch. Healthy, normal, fine. He was putting an order for work into the computer standing at the bar. Suddenly he got light headed and thought he was going to vomit. He called for me. I came downstairs to him sitting in the floor of the bathroom. He was extremely pale. I gave him water and a slice of bread. He nearly dropped the glass of water from trembling. I knew he needed to lay down, but he couldn't stand. His muscles had completely given out. I got behind him and half carried him to the couch. He started convulsing. I don't believe he was seizing because he was awake and talking the whole time, but every muscle in his body was spasming, HARD. I got him some orange juice thinking it was low blood sugar. He couldn't hold the glass or lift his head to swallow. Even his face was spasming. I lifted his head and he took a few sips. I waited. I prayed. Nothing changed. Finally I called an ambulance.
We waited for three hours in the hallway of the ER. We waited five hours to see a doctor. The doctor admitted him but the only tests they ran were lab work and an EKG. His EKG was normal.
The next morning a new doctor came in who decided to run more tests. 30 minute glucose test, EEG, and more lab work. We spent another night in the hospital. Everything came back normal.
But he wasn't okay, and he still isn't. He has had a headache since the first night in the hospital. He is still having tremors and getting light headed, and having a horrible headache. The worse his headache gets, the worse his tremors get. And he starts talking and moving really slowly. And he doesn't know he's doing it.
There's more, like the fact that we zeroed out our checking account this week, but in God's grace we haven't overdrawn.
Like the fact that a friend that I haven't seen in years sent a $50 grocery card to us and told me, "God is using you to show me that my money isn't mine."
Like the fact that Dwayne's doctor could have been his doctor at the hospital, but no one notified him. That tests were run that weren't necessary and tests that were necessary weren't run.
Like the fact that people are praying like crazy. And people went out of their way to take care of our kids and to bring us food while we were at the hospital.
He's having an MRI tomorrow. We will owe $300 for that, in addition to whatever we will owe the hospital ($500 deductible+20% coinsurance for the hospital bill).
I'm so overwhelmed and yet so at peace. I am struggling and wrestling with this divine balance of living in the flesh and living in the Spirit. If I allow myself to live in the Spirit, I so closely feel the presence of my Savior that it is as if I am literally leaning back into Him.
Two separate people have prophesied over us the exact same word: God is using this to strengthen our faith. That, to man, this looks like a step backward, but in reality it is a step into all that God has for us. That He is doing a new thing and wants to use us for His great purposes. And I know it.
I don't know what that looks like. I know there is no promise for any of us for tomorrow. There is no promise of health, wealth, or prosperity (despite what some people believe, that is simply not Biblical. But that is for another blog post.). There is only one promise: Jesus, His goodness, and His perfect plan.
The question is why?
For His Glory.