Life is hard. Sometimes, it’s downright impossible. I began to truly understand this when I was barely seventeen and diagnosed with lupus and told I had a life expectancy of ten years. I have to admit, when that happened, I felt a bit like the Road Runner when the anvil drops on him. In a moment, everything had changed. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew I had a hard road ahead.
When I was diagnosed with lupus, I held firm to my faith in God. In those first days, immediately following my diagnosis, I knew God had a plan for my life and would work everything out for the good. Yet as days turned into weeks and months turned into years, I began to get sicker. Medicine could only help so much, much like putting a Band-Aid over a gaping wound. And little by little, my faith in a loving, benevolent God slowly began to crumble.
At twenty-one, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Although I never voiced it aloud, I began to question if the God whom I claimed to believe was worth it. All I could see was heartache and brokenness. There were days I was physically in such severe pain I couldn’t get out of bed. But I bolstered my faith and continued to try to trust in God. That all came to a screeching halt when I was twenty-five and diagnosed with Crohns. With three chronic illnesses attacking my body, what little belief I had left in God came crashing down around me. I’ll never forget that moment when I stood by the trashcan in my bedroom holding my Bible, ready to throw it and my faith in Christ away forever. Life was harder than I ever imagined it could be, and I wanted to quit on the God whom I believed had quit on me.
In the moment, right before I threw away my Bible, I felt a stirring in my soul. With tears running down my face, I told God I would give Him one last chance to show me I was wrong – to show me He loved me and cared about what I was going through. That moment changed my life. I know some people would say it’s blasphemous to give God an ultimatum like that, but for the first time since I became sick, I was honest with myself and God. I was done pretending that my faith was steadfast in Him, and God blessed that honesty. I didn’t understand why this was happening, and it caused me to lift my eyes off my problems and place them solely on God. For the first time since I was seventeen, my focus was on God and God alone.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God won’t perform miracles in your life. He’s done so many things that shouldn’t be possible in my life, counting but not limited to the fact that I’ve already lived six years past my expiration date. Not only that, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in my adult life. Yes, I’m still sick and life is hard, but God is still working in my life and through my life. That’s something that amazes me every day.
What I’ve learned over the years is I don’t get to pick and choose what problems I’ll have to face. If I’m going to believe God, I have to believe He’s not only the God of the good times, but He’s also God of the bad. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we’re excluded from the problems of this life. Yet when we choose to believe God, and make no mistake, it is a choice, we’ll know the peace that passes understanding. We’ll see why in Acts 16:22-30 Paul and Silas could sing God’s praise when they were imprisoned. They knew Jehovah-Shalom, “The Lord is my peace.”
Over the years, I’ve become intimately acquainted with Jehovah-Shalom. I’ve had days when I couldn’t uncurl from the fetal position because the pain was so severe. There’ve been moments when I’ve been told by doctors to prepare to die. Yet time after time, when I’ve cried out to Jehovah-Shalom, I’ve experienced the most amazing peace when there should have been none. That’s what God does during those hard times. He may not remove the burden, but He’ll help you carry it. When that happens, you can honestly say, “Today has been hard, but it hasn’t been bad because my God is good and He gives me peace.”
Can you say that? Do you know Jehovah-Shalom?
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Romans 15:13
© February 22, 2017