“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:5-8
Many of us know the first part of this passage by heart. I think I’ve even written multiple blog posts about it in the past. But the second part of the passage caught my eye today. Trusting in God’s wisdom rather than our own will bring health and nourishment to our bodies. There was a time I would have scoffed at these verses. How can trusting in God affect my health? Goodness, I could tell you some stories…
For a long time, I have struggled with my need to know answers, especially answers to the question of why God was allowing me to suffer so. I was hurt and angry with Him and I allowed it to fester into bitterness. I describe this period in my life, which actually wasn’t that long ago, as extremely dark. I tried to walk away from God multiple times but He lovingly pursued. My understanding of God’s promises did not match what I was experiencing and the perceived discrepancy caused an unbelievable amount of anxiety and anger. This emotional pain and spiritual tension started to hurt me in every way, including physically. In addition, I sometimes would convince myself that I shouldn’t be angry at God so I turned my anger inward. My self-loathing led me to very dark places, sometimes even to suicidal thoughts. When we have such extreme emotions, we feel them in our bodies whether we realize it or not. My stomach was always in knots, my neck and shoulders tense. Every weak part of my body would flare during those times. When I would have an intensely emotional day without properly expressing those emotions I would experience sharp pains shooting throughout my body the next day. I wasn’t giving my body the proper nourishment of God’s truth and promises. Instead, I was feeding it lies and hatred. My reliance on my own limited understanding about suffering left me malnourished and sick, careening down the crooked path of darkness and evil rather than God’s straight, beautiful path of light. I very often asked, “how long, Oh, Lord? How long?”, and that’s a perfectly fine question. But I understood there to be no good reason for my continued pain. In my perception, I had been suffering far too long and it was time for Him to do something. But what I didn’t understand was, He was doing something. He is always doing something.
I’m not exactly sure what started to change my attitude but I’m sure I’ll be writing more about that as I continue on this journey. I see what God is accomplishing in my heart through this illness and it takes my breath away and brings me to my knees. I want to say that I’m a different person than I was just a few months ago, but I think I am just becoming more me, more the person God intended me to be all along. I am fiercely protective of my illness now, in the sense that I know how precious this time is… excruciatingly precious. How dare the enemy say this painful time of waiting is wasted? I thank God that, on most days, I no longer believe that. My illness is accomplishing something wonderful in my heart that would not have been accomplished in any other way. God is becoming my everything when, for so long, He was my punching bag. He has helped me let go of so much anger toward Him and toward myself. There are times when the self-loathing and anger still rear their ugly heads but those times are becoming fewer and farther between. When I’m feeling particularly broken, I don’t often try to make it on my own anymore. Instead, I run full-speed to God. He is filling me with His truth and love. I am no longer starving and my bones are feeling stronger. I see more light than darkness.
Susie Larson said this of God’s timing, “He’s making me wait because He’s making me ready.” I have been hurt and offended by what I thought was God’s purposeless waiting period. But I am so thankful that He has opened my eyes to see His perfect timing. I think I said in my last post that I love quick fixes but God knows that I couldn’t handle today’s discoveries and hurts yesterday. He is feeding me His truth and His love so that I am just strong enough for Him to reveal another hard truth about myself so that He can help me deal with it in His way, the healthy way.
I have experienced several examples of God’s timing through the pain, but will describe just one today. I’ve been fighting for disability for almost three years now. It’s a fight I have hated and I’ve been devastated by the need to do so. I had waited years for my hearing and finally it was set for this past May. My attorney and I prepared and studied and a multitude of people prayed for me. But I sat before the judge for thirty seconds while he told me I was going to have to see yet another doctor. Months more waiting. I was so hurt and angry. Defeated, really. I wondered if God cared about all the prayers that had been uttered on my behalf and if He was ever going to provide for us in this way. Months went by and I finally had my second hearing just last week. It was a grueling, painful experience to say the least. It seemed that the judge’s aim was to make me feel as small, useless, and parasitic as possible. The way he spoke and acted made me feel like absolute scum. It cut deeply that someone would do everything he could to make it seem like I left the job that I loved on purpose, that my illness wasn’t real and that these last three years of what I had often considered pure hell meant nothing. I was deeply hurt and wanted so desperately for everyone in the room to know my story, to know that I would give almost anything to be back at work doing what I love. But I had to be silent and take the blows the judge was dishing out. Honestly, it could have destroyed me. If I had experienced the entire hearing back in May, it WOULD have destroyed me. At that point I was still fiercely clinging to my own understanding and self-loathing. I would have blamed it all on God or myself or the world and who knows what would have happened to my heart? Don’t get me wrong, it still cut deep. I still cried periodically throughout the rest of the day but the way I was able to handle it was drastically different than I would have handled it before. First of all, I let myself feel everything I needed to feel, whereas before, I would have done everything I could not to feel the hurt or deal with it at all. This time I took my hurt to God, pouring it all out at His feet. I repeated His truth to myself that I am His child and His opinion of me is the only one that truly matters. He knows that I am far from scum and, eventually, that became enough for me. The sting of what happened to me last week has become less and less by the day. God’s view of me is everything. Though it still hurt, He knew I was finally ready for that day and I am so, so thankful that He made me wait. He was making me ready. Thank You, Lord.
I received the letter from Social Security yesterday that said I am receiving disability. I am disabled. That statement has been difficult for me to swallow. I have been running the gamut of emotion since I received it, from relief that the fight is over and that our financial situation will be somewhat better to deep sadness that this had to happen at all. But I am continuing to seek God’s understanding, not my own, and I feel more nourished and healthy by the moment. This whole experience is drawing me closer to God than I could have imagined. I used to get angry when people would say the lowest times of their lives were when they felt most comforted by God because I didn’t feel that. But, I do now. I am drinking in God’s truth and this time of waiting and illness is more precious than I can describe. Excruciatingly precious. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thank you, God, for my illness. Thank You for carrying out Your good work in me, no matter how painful. And thank You for making me wait until my heart is ready for the next painful opportunity to run to You. Forgive me for the times I’ve questioned Your perfect timing. Help me lean on Your understanding, not my own. Amen.
Thank you, dear readers, for sharing in my journey and praying for me. I am sure I will need this reminder many times in the days to come as the darkness tries to creep back in and cover God’s truth. I pray God continues to fight it for me, to shine His light on the straight path, and to nourish me with His healthy understanding.
Song I’m feeling: Somewhere in Your Silent Night, by Casting Crowns
“Somewhere in your silent night, Heaven hears the song your broken heart has cried. Hope is here. Just lift your head for Love has come to find you somewhere in your silent night.”