Like all of you, life has thrown me a few curveballs. My husband has battled heart disease and cancer twice. I lost a baby after the first trimester of pregnancy. Some of my kids had learning differences and both of my parents have passed. My main artery was broken during a routine procedure and I bled internally, ending up on life support after my organs shut down. You know, just the usual stuff life throws at us.
But somehow through it all, I have always felt close to God.
Much of my relationship with God was based on reliability. I could rely on God to be fair. I could rely on Him to have my best interests at heart. I could rely on Him to have a beautiful plan for my life. That was our “deal” and it made it easy for me to trust Him and love Him.
And then chronic illness entered my life and everything changed.
It all began about ten years ago. My husband and I were heading out to dinner when I suddenly fell against the car door. The world was spinning so fast that I had to hang on for dear life. It hit without warning.
I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. As the disease progressed, the hearing in my left ear was destroyed and my balance was so compromised that besides the violent attacks of vertigo, I was dizzy every day.
I never lost hope of being cured though and I prayed fervently and tried every remedy thrown at me (sure that each one was God’s answer to prayer). I went on a LOW sodium diet and took diuretics. I had steroids injected into my middle ear (ouch!) and I had surgery to remove the bones in my inner ear. At one point, I was taking 64 naturopathic pills a day.
Nothing worked. Instead, the disease advanced.
Imagine, if you will, that the only way to get relief (if the attack wasn’t too violent) was to lay perfectly still with my deaf ear up and my eyes closed (with my hand on my forehead for balance). This, in essence, rendered me blind AND deaf for sometimes weeks at a time. I couldn’t move an inch, turn over, read, watch TV, talk, or eat without becoming ill.
I had nothing to rely on anymore.
I couldn’t rely on being able to get out of bed. I couldn’t rely on feeling good. I couldn’t even rely on gravity to hold me up. And, I felt I couldn’t rely on God.
I had prayed so many times to be healed, instead I was getting worse. Finally, I stopped praying except for “Help me!” spoken in anguish. Every day that I was sick felt like a reminder that God didn’t love me anymore.
Finally, in desperation, I began to wonder what I COULD rely on. It wasn’t myself or the health of my body. It wasn’t even my loved ones. They had busy lives of their own. I couldn’t rely on my doctors. Meniere’s was an incurable mystery to them too.
So, what was left?
God was left, or more appropriately, God stayed.
This wasn’t the way I’d pictured my life going, but could I rely on His goodness and perfection? I remembered that God’s own son asked, “Why have you forsaken me?” I realized I was in pretty good company. It also hit me that as painful as the diseases of this world are, nothing is as painful as being separated from God.
And so, that means that I have no choice but to have faith. Oh, I will still probably whine during my times of affliction. After all, I am a CHILD of God. But, I can rely on Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Easier said than done? Of course! Especially when I am miserable and the world spins around me. But, He stands with me in the center of this storm, never abandoning me, ready to hold me when it all becomes too much. THAT I can rely on.