I'm still adjusting to having a fully functional physical body! I am daily still in awe and thankfulness that God would restore my health and I love feeling normal again. I feel even better than I did before all of this sickness really took hold! Can you imagine? Having a sharper mind in your 30's than you did in your 20's? And instead of feeling the effects of age on your body, you feel more physically able and fit than you did in college? Amazing.
Because of so very many years of being bedridden and just not using many of my muscles that often, I've had to ease into activity. My body WANTS to do more than I let it right now because I've learned the hard way over the last 6 months that if I do as much as I feel I can, the weak muscles revolt at the end of the day with spasms and soreness. I'll clarify to those of you who struggle with fatigue and joint pain -- this pain is NOT that! It's the good pain of muscles being utilized and being trained.
Spiritually and emotionally, I am so relieved - so thankful - that this particular trial is over. How difficult and how absolutely stretching was this trial. At times I felt like a bow and arrow being stretched and stretched, nearly cracking because it couldn't be stretched anymore, and yet God stretched MORE, not yet ready to release the arrow. And I will tell you, the Lord made me stronger through it.
I think the ultimate questions you can measure your trial with are very basic beliefs you have about God. Before your trial was afflicted, you believed certain things about life and about God. During your trial, did/do you still believe those things? Were they proven true? That is the true gauge of whether your beliefs and/or the God you believe in is dependable. So here are a few that I continually asked myself during those very long, arduous 9 years of torment and distress. Working my way through TOUGH theology brought me closer to God than had I tried to emotionally go to a place pursuing what I felt would somehow refresh my heart but would have been just a Bandaid, quick-fix to a hurting heart and mind. Wrestling through doctrine of the faith has always, always proved that the Holy Spirit is given to comfort and assist. Was God who He says He is?
1) Is God Faithful?
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments." Deut 7:9
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor 10:13
"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds." Psalm 36:5
God never forgot me, failed me, or ever faltered in His care for me. He could be safely relied upon. Cherished hopes and dreams for my life were essentially shattered, though. I often thought, "I have just lost 5 years of my life",..and then six, and then seven, and then eight, etc. The self-pity and wallowing were a real thing at times. The encouragement and change of heart attitude came when I dwelt on God's faithfulness and begged for His mercy to deliver me. My brain was so affected by bacteria a lot of the times that I couldn't think straight and couldn't wade through simple sentences. There were many times that I lay, incapacitated, writhing in pain and physical misery and helplessness that the only prayer I could utter was a steady stream of repeated, "Help me, help me, help me...." In those very basic words and stripped bare, the Holy Spirit was proving faithful to intercede FOR me when I couldn't even express what I needed (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit knew what to ask the Father when I didn't even have words or thoughts for what I needed and those prayers the Father was pleased to answer.
I often worried that my kids would be affected in a negative way by not having a mother who was fully present in their life. I don't just mean that I wasn't doing extras in their little lives - I mean I was locked away so very often that interaction was very minimal. There were even periods when others had to take some of my kids for extended durations of time and my heart broke. But God was trustworthy - He held my family close and grew my children and used others with like minds to help in the shaping and raising. They aren't LACKING as I feared and in fact they are stronger for having observed such acute suffering and experiencing the outflow of it on their own lives.
And let me be clear, my faithfulness to God throughout these hard years was not by self effort. Please don't make that mistake in believing that I tried so hard to be godly and faithful and that I succeeded. I was not faithful by my own resolution; ONLY because God strengthened me and because He made me faithful and gave me fortitude to endure did I make it through suffering not bitter and broken, but content and whole.
I could go on and on with example after example of His faithfulness in my life through this trial.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never cease; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lam 2:22-23
2) Is God Sovereign?
"As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all." Psalm 103:15-19
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Phil 1:6
"He is before all things, and in Him all things are held together." Col 1:17
"I know You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2
The one question that I got asked the most frequently (and if not asked, then stated in people's observation of my suffering) was, "If God is good, why would He inflict you and not deliver you for such a long time?" I do admit, this is one of the harder things to wrap your head around.
Did He allow this affliction to be put upon me? If so, does that make him any less good? My answer - yes, He allowed it, and no, it does not make Him any less good. The fact that I suffered but prevailed having learned and grown closer to Him, not abandoning my convictions and belief in who He is, is proof. He is so far greater than me, so far above me as Creator and Ruler, that as a human being, I would much rather choose to trust in His sovereign plan in my life because I know He has my best interest in mind. We aren't promised that we will always have a clear picture of the WHY, but when you accept His rightful place in the orchestration of your life, you are given peace abounding. And when I look back over the last 9 years, each strand of anguish had a very fitting place within the tapestry of the life that He is weaving.
If you do not believe in His sovereignty, then your God is too small and you've relegated Him to be some sort of jolly father figure who sits back and observes but is not active, powerful, and far greater than any person can comprehend. You do not have a good grasp on His supremacy, authority, and role as infinite ruler. And yet, what kindness and mercy and grace He shows that such a powerful God would be intimately involved in each of our lives? His love is so vast and great toward us (who are created in His image!) that He would make a way for us to have a relationship with Him - by giving us Jesus who made a way for us to interact and dwell in His midst without consequence. Jesus took the full weight of the world's sins (which were the thing in every human that separated us from having fellowship with a holy, pure God) on himself at the cross, conquered death through resurrection and said, "Here, have this gift not only of eternal life with God, but of fellowship with Him as well." Does His sovereignty over my life make me resentful? No! Dear readers, His sovereignty is a place of rest and cause for worship!
3) Does God give grace?
"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." Jn 1:16
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Cor 12:9
" and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." I Tim 1:14
Grace is unmerited favor of God, and we see this not only in the salvation of sinners but also in the bestowal of blessings in our lives. I by no means acted sinless through my suffering. I didn't always have the right attitude. I shook my fist, I doubted, and I wanted to give up on more than a few occasions. Endurance was not something I wanted, but endurance is what God gave me and what healed me. Put another way, God's perfect patience, or His restraint shown in the face of being incited was to exhibit His grace even more. He allowed my times of doubt and anger about what He was doing in my life so He could display His patience and grace even more clearly to me.
He showed His undeserved grace in other facets of my life during my suffering as well. Little blessings here and there that I never thought I had earned or deserved, but were much welcomed and appreciated. Look at every way He worked and delivered me, and know that it was all by His doing. We should be prepared to humbly accept the sun and rain. Should I thank Him during days of sunshine but then turn around and fuss and groan on the rainy ones? Trust Him only when He showers bounty and He seems close, and then turn my back when He allows discomfort and I perceive Him to be distant? His grace was overflowing, pouring out and over like a roaring waterfall into my cup and I cannot look back over the last nine years and NOT clearly see that. He certainly deserves praise!
Don't grow weary, then - endure, but know that you can only endure by His help.
My most frequent prayer over the last nine years was not for healing. Are you surprised? My deepest and longest running prayer was that I might glorify Him through my suffering. Asking that God be glorified through my illness was the most rewarding prayer. That was a prayer the Holy Spirit heard and rejoiced in and brought straight to the Father. Asking for healing was something I definitely did, but asking with the truth and attitude of "if it's Your will..." kept me largely from doubting His faithfulness, sovereignty, grace, or goodness. And I pray the same for you in whatever trial or suffering you may be experiencing today.
Thank you for keeping myself and my family in your constant prayers over these trying years. We are so very grateful for those of you all over the country that poured into our lives when we had no other help. The physical sacrifices you made, and the love that you showed surely modeled God's desire for us. We will always be thankful for you.
I don't have plans to keep writing on this blog as it appears this health journey is finally at a close. Thank you for staying interested and keeping up with your encouragement! I hope that some part of my story over the years has been of some encouragement to you. I'm still here for questions (click on the "contact me" link), especially those of you who have specific questions about what all was involved in my healing. In short - my doctor was very wise and really knows how to attack this disease. Keep at the healing process and don't lose heart! Those of you dealing with Lyme need to endure during the hardest moments of your life! It is the key to getting well. Prayers for you all.