Every now and then I reach the end of my rope with my headaches. Revolving my daily schedule around how bad I feel becomes exhausting and burdensome. The weight of never feeling well becomes heavy, and I just break down. Last night was one of these nights. As I was lying in bed, crying in pain, my heart cried out to God. “Please, God. Take this affliction from me. Heal me. Remove this sickness from me.” I woke up this morning with the headache still lingering behind my eyes. It’s a difficult way to start the day. Difficult to have a positive attitude. Difficult to be grateful and to see God’s grace.
As I drove to work this morning, searing pain behind my eyes, I saw sun rays sneaking through parting clouds, and I knew. God has not abandoned me.
I don’t know why I’m sick. Maybe, like Paul, this is the God-permitted thorn in my side. Something to keep me humble and remind me of my dependence on God. I don’t know His reasoning. And I probably won’t until the day I come face to face with my Maker.
Maybe you, like me, are suffering. Maybe there’s a constant thorn in your side. Your suffering may be far worse than mine. Terminal illness. Debilitating disease. Maybe your affliction is in your mind, not your body. Maybe you, too, need to be reminded of God’s grace. I don’t know why you’re suffering. Whether it’s spiritual warfare to try to get you to doubt God’s goodness. Whether it’s a God-permitted test of your faith. Whether it’s just nature. What I do know for sure is that God has not abandoned you. He never has and He never will.
God promised there would be trouble in this world. Maybe yours seems a heavier burden than others’. Maybe it seems unfair. Unending. But God has promised peace and joy in the midst of the storm. He has promised deliverance. If not here on earth, then in Heaven. He has promised to be with us every step of the way.
Healing doesn’t always look the way we want it to. Maybe what you seek (what I seek deeply) is physical healing. You long for it day and night. Lord, heal my body. But maybe God wants to heal your heart. To mend your trust. He wants you to learn what it is to depend on Him and Him alone. Maybe through your sickness, God wants to heal others. As you place your trust in Him, feeling strong and confident in the middle of your storm, those around you will wonder why and how. Their hearts may be changed by the strength of God in you.
We can’t (usually) control whether or not we suffer, but we can control how we respond. When we react by putting our trust completely in God, knowing above all else that He has a plan and knows exactly what He’s doing, allowing Him to fill us with His peace and strength, we are able to be a light to others. To show them that even in the midst of trials, we will not fear, because we know without a shadow of a doubt that our God is good.
I do feel a little disheartened. It’s difficult going through life this way. But I am encouraged knowing my God is with me. That He will never leave me. That if I don’t see the kind of healing I desire, it is for a purpose. Part of God’s grand, inexplicable, inconceivable, beautiful plan. Through the pain, I must place my trust in Him. Know that His thoughts are far greater than mine. Believe that His plan for my life is far better, far more glorious than anything I could fathom. I am encouraged knowing His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I am encouraged knowing my Father loves me. Loves me so much that He sent His only Son to die for me. Loves me so much that He thinks about me constantly. That kind of love doesn’t give up on people. That kind of love perseveres through trials. It brings hope and joy. It encourages trust and patience. That is the kind of love that, even at your lowest point, says, “I’m right here with you. I’m staying. I’m not going anywhere”.
I am encouraged knowing that while my flesh may fail, my God will not. I am encouraged knowing the God I serve. And in the end, it’s all worth it, isn’t it?