How do I keep forgetting? How do I keep forgetting it is well? Ann Voskamp calls it “chronic soul-amnesia” and boy, have I got it bad.
I may have told the story before, but my chronic soul-amnesia needs to hear it again. I’m not sure how I’m alive to tell of the Fall of 2015. I was already sick and losing weight due to undiagnosed autoimmune disease when I contracted pertussis. When I have a cold, I may feel like I’m dying for a few days to a week but then life goes on. But this time I coughed non-stop for fifteen weeks. I gave myself mouth sores and I’m certain I rotted my teeth from all the cough drops I constantly consumed day and night. I coughed so much I gagged and couldn’t breathe. When I did try to work, I would find my coworkers standing outside the bathroom making sure I came out of a coughing fit alive. I barely slept. I was so weak and sick. I truly thought I was dying. I made sure I had life insurance and things were in order. I hadn’t started writing letters to loved-ones but it did enter my thoughts and if I had possessed the energy, I would have done so.
I would sit up nights on the couch listening to worship music, sometimes begging God to take me home. It was during one such sleepless night that God introduced me to the song, It Is Well, by Kristene DiMarco. I found myself sob-coughing, lifting my hands in full worship, “Let go, my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know his name.” The miracle is not that I discovered the song. The miracle is that in the midst of truly believing I was dying, hardly able to breathe or sleep, God helped me worship with this song and mean it. How do I keep forgetting it is well with my soul?
My chronic soul-amnesia often comes in the form of fear. Fear of the unknown, of uncertainty, of pain, of vulnerability. Sometimes I’m nearly paralyzed by fear. But God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). God is strong in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). How do I keep forgetting? How do I keep forgetting it is well? How do I keep forgetting that, though the earth gives way, God is my ever-present help? (Psalm 46:1-2) It is very well with my soul.
My fear has become particularly debilitating lately. I haven’t been doing very well at laying my burdens down without picking them right back up again. I often walk up to the mountain, as I call it, and attempt to release my burdens. Last Saturday, I cried out to God on the mountain. I laid down my burdens before him and I sang to him. God often gives me songs to sing on the mountain when I can think of nothing else to say, and that day he gave me How Great Thou Art. I was struggling to leave my burdens there in peace so I continued to sing it over and over all the way down the mountain. Because this is how God speaks to me, I knew that we would sing How Great Thou Art the next day in church. When we did, I just smiled and felt incredibly loved by a God who cares about my burdens. Who am I that he would pay so much attention to me? How do I keep forgetting? It is very well with my soul.
I’ve had a pain in my side for more than a month now. I feel like I have a literal thorn in my side, a big one! Ultrasound, X-rays, CT show nothing. And yet it is always there, lurking, sometimes able to be ignored, sometimes excruciating. Much of my illness is puzzling in general. Kind of like my chronic soul-amnesia, it never leaves. Sometimes I fear what this pain means. But perfect love casts out fear. On the mountain of the Lord, He provides his songs for me to fight the fear and pain. It is well with my soul. This pain in my side meets the one in Jesus’ side and shared pain means less fear and more healing. Jesus endured pain for the intimacy of a relationship with me. Through unknown pain, I experience dependence on God. Through uncertainty, God is constant. Unless I allow it, fear has no power over me when Christ is living in me. Jesus’ wounds heal my wounds. It is very well with my soul.