“Event” – What do you think of when you hear that word? Does it fill you with excitement and joy or fear and dread? For a chronically ill person or their caretaker, this one word alone can unleash a flood of emotions. It does for me anyway. It seems that whenever there is an event coming up, there is an inward battle that must be fought.
I have been sick since birth. More times than not, that sickness brought to a screeching halt my plans for fun. I missed many events growing up. Everything from birthday parties to field trips to vacations. And it made me angry. According to my parents, when my brother got sick, he would sleep and then be better. When I got sick, I would stomp my little feet in anger and frustration.
Now that I’m all grown up, sickness is still interfering with my plans. It still makes me angry. I may even stomp my feet in protest from time to time. However, what I have come to realize is that plans change. There are going to be times when we can't do what we've been eagerly anticipating doing, when we can't go where we've been excitedly preparing to go.
When those times come, and they will come, how will we react? Will we throw ourselves a pity party, be grumps, and feel angry for weeks? Will we think to ourselves, "Oh well, it wasn't meant to be!" and move on? I'm guessing most of us will fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. What I am learning, and what I want you to know, is that it is okay to feel sad. It is okay to cry, to be upset, and to mourn what was lost. God knows that there is a battle raging within us. It is in these moments we need to be honest with God.
I had the opportunity to do that last week. For several years, I’ve been attending a Labor Day Family Camp with people from my church and other churches. It’s a fantastic time of relaxation, encouragement, and corporate worship. Last year I was too sick to go. I didn’t even plan on going. This year, however, I thought I could go. I have been planning on going for the past year. I was excited. And I was sick. I’m going through a pretty rough patch right now and the battle began to rage within me.
I knew if I could just get to camp I would be blessed and encouraged. However, I feared being sick at camp. The “what ifs” were running wild through my mind. I didn’t want to not go to camp out of fear of the “what ifs” – but I also didn’t want to be stupid and go when I knew my body couldn’t handle it. I struggled for days. Should I stay or should I go? I just didn’t know. I started to feel better just before camp, which made the decision even more difficult. In the end, it came down to the fact that I didn’t have time to get ready to go. And if I am honest with myself, I didn’t have the energy either.
So I stayed home. And I felt at peace with that. Yes, I was sad and upset to miss yet another event that I had been looking forward to, but I was also relieved I stayed home because I would have been miserable at camp. I still don’t feel well, but I know that God is with me and that He is good.
When event after event is ruined, it’s easy to let this become an area of fear in our lives. We wonder if we will ever be “normal” and able to plan something and follow through. Every time we say yes to something, we wonder if we will have to cancel. It can be scary to make plans. We don’t want to let others down…again. We don’t want to let ourselves down again either.
Instead of living our lives in fear, let’s begin living our lives in the grace and mercy of our Lord. It is there that we will find freedom. As we bring our feelings to God and cry on His shoulder, He will remind us of how much He loves us. He will fill us with joy and hope for a better tomorrow.
Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV) reminds us that “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” We will fall and we will fail, but we will not be cast headlong. The Lord is holding us up. The Lord is establishing our steps.
Do you trust God with your life? Do you trust God with the things you’re looking forward to? Do you trust Him with the things that have been taken away? It’s time to have a serious conversation with your Lord. Go to Him. He's waiting for you, and He loves you.
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” ~Psalm 37:3-5 (ESV)