This past Saturday, October 6th, was an anniversary of sorts for me. Admittedly, it’s an anniversary I never hoped to have, yet it marks a time that I’ve to come to see as one of the kindest things God has ever done for me. So what is this anniversary? It’s the day when a part of my life ended and another part began; it’s the day when doctors told me to quit my job and apply for disability.
I was diagnosed with lupus when I was in high school, so I was used to being sick. I learned quickly how to push through the constant pain and fatigue of living with a chronic illness. One could say I learned how to become a fighter. Some might argue I shouldn’t claim to be a fighter, yet without having a fighter’s spirit, I would have never persevered through life’s adversities. Many times I refused to quit, even though my circumstances screamed that I should. Because of this, I struggled immensely when my doctor told me I was too sick to work. The stubborn Irish side of me screamed that the doctors were wrong. Unfortunately, my body and mind didn’t agree on what I could do and what I couldn’t, and because I refused to yield to what my doctors and body were saying, almost every organ and joint in my body became inflamed.
In Philippians 2:27, Paul mentions that Epaphroditus, a friend of Paul’s, was so sick he almost died, yet God had mercy on Epaphroditus as well as Paul, so that he wouldn’t experience sorrow upon sorrow. The translation for the Greek word “mercy” is “compassion and pity.”God loves us in such a huge way, we’ll never be able to understand His love this side of Heaven.1 John 3:1 says that God has lavished us with His love. Because of this great love, God feels compassion and pity when we hurt. Sometimes, we like how He shows us His mercy, such as if He saves us from death. But other times, God’s mercy is uncomfortable and sometimes painful, such as having to live with a chronic illness. It is during those times we question if God really is merciful and loving.
For me, becoming severely ill was one of the greatest mercies God has ever shown me. Over the course of my life, I had become so broken emotionally and spiritually that I was living out my life wounded and emotionally crippled, and I didn’t even know it. I knew I was unhappy, but I had no idea why. I threw myself into my work so that I wouldn’t have to think about my emotional and spiritual turmoil. When God allowed me to become so sick that I couldn’t work, I was no longer able to hide from my problems. I had nothing else to do but sit and think and study God’s Word. It’s because of my illness that I can now say I am the healthiest I have ever been emotionally and spiritually. God has used my broken body to make me whole.
As people, we don’t like to think about pain and suffering. It makes us uncomfortable, yet pain doesn’t have to destroy us. Sometimes, one of God’s greatest mercies is to allow us to go through times of trial and hardship. God is more concerned with our spiritual and emotional health than He is with our comfort. He loves us so much that He is unwilling to leave us in our broken state. God can take the worst day of our lives and turn it into something beautiful. He can redeem the pain and heartbreak. He can pick up the broken pieces of our lives and transform our pain into a priceless treasure.
My hope and prayer for you is that you experience the love and mercy of God. He sees your pain, He hears your cries, and He feels great compassion. Never doubt this truth. God is merciful, God loves you, and God celebrates you. Even when your life is broken, God sees the person He created
you to be and He helps you become whole.
“Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, and will have compassion on His afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’ ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.’ ” ~ Isaiah 49:13-16
© October 7, 2012