My family and I live near the airport in St. Louis. There are days I see countless airplanes flying overhead. They often resemble those toy airplanes. I can usually make out the color, airlines, and sometimes I can even see the windows.
However, there are other days that I do not see a single airplane. It’s definitely not because there are no airplanes flying. This one is on me. I live by the airport; I tend to tune out the sound of airplanes now.
Yet, sometimes when I am driving on certain roads, we can catch the airplanes coming in right over our heads. They’re so big. Those planes are up close and personal! Though I’ve seen this several times, it really is just as neat each time. When this happens, I wish I could see another one do the exact same thing.
This is a really good illustration of how I tend to see God’s movement. When I am looking for it, I see it. But I can easily be distracted and not pay attention to it. But then there are those moments when God is so BIG and so amazing that I just want to experience His movement again and again.
But can I be honest? I want to experience God and His movement, but I don’t always want to experience those “things,” that “stuff,” that brings me to those God size moments.
When life is good! Yes, let me feel those WOW moments. But when life is not so good… I just want the not so good to go away. But it’s in those not so good moments… those moments where my only choice is to admit my weaknesses and hand that “stuff” to God, that I experience those airplanes up close and personal. That’s when I really get to see how BIG my God is!
If there is one thing that I have taken for granted my entire life- it’s my health. I always pray to be happy, healthy, and safe…but it’s more of a recited checklist.
Well… in 2012 after having baby #2, my body started acting… well pregnant again. I was sooooo tired. I had weird aches. My vision was doing funky things.
I didn’t exactly have a doctor. I was 27 and not too worried about my health. Yet, I couldn’t keep ignoring these crazy symptoms. By the grace of God, I was able to get a new patient appointment with a doctor rather quickly. After my first visit with this doctor, she properly diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. (This is almost unheard of in the world of autoimmune diseases!) She put me on some medicine, referred me to an endocrinologist, and I began to learn about the crazy world of autoimmune diseases. See, my immune system recognizes my thyroid as “bad” and is attacking it like it would attack a virus.
Correct medicine. Occasional blood work. Life goes back to normal. Four kids later… the same things are happening but on a different scale.
My hands and feet are hurting and are swelling like crazy. I get random headaches. And man, that fatigue! So, I asked my doctor to run bloodwork to see if I have another autoimmune disease. I honestly thought I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.
A few days later, the nurse called me with my results. She said my rheumatoid test came back clear, but my ANA test came back positive. This is an indicator of Lupus.
At first, I was like, “Oh, ok. No biggie.” I have one autoimmune disease, what’s another?
But then I started reading about Lupus. At first it was just to check my symptoms. Then I started realizing what all Lupus attacks-joints, muscles, tissue, skin, heart, lung, kidney, brain… Wow! This could get bad. It seems unpredictable. I could actually die from complications related to this disease.
Then I started pleading with God. Please God, let me live to see my kids graduate high school. Let them get out of the house before you take me home. I don’t want to be the reason they are mad at you. Then I was like, `Oh I want to see my kids get married.’ `Oh, could I see my grandkids…’ my mind completely went haywire.
I know how ridiculous this train of thought was, but it happened. I didn’t even know if I had this disease. I didn’t even really know the ins-and-outs of Lupus, how it’s treated, or anything… Even though I read that 90% of people with Lupus have normal or near normal life expectancy, I thought I was going to die. I just let my mind roll while completely focusing on worst case scenarios.
I had to ask God to help me be ok with this diagnosis. I had to learn to live while I was suffering.
God gently pointed me to a book I picked up months ago and never finished- It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeust. It was like the chapter I stopped on was written just for this moment.
God allows us to suffer, but He is still a good God. We cannot possibly see the big picture, because He is the master artist.
See, I had been giving into tactics of the enemy. The enemy wants me focused on my pain, my suffering, my shortcoming, so that my eyes are not on the prize- Christ. As Lysa words it, “God wants us transformed, while Satan wants us paralyzed.” I was paralyzed for sure!
I could not keep my eyes on my current and potential suffering. I needed a new perspective. I needed to see God’s perspective. I needed to realize, I am the clay- He is the potter. He is the master artist.
As I closed that chapter of the book in peace, I knew things were going to be ok. I prayed and thanked God for answering my prayer. But He had another message for me, and I could feel it in my bones. I sat at my kitchen table with a few minutes before I needed to get my kids up and decided to check my email. As I looked at my email, I saw a link I just knew I needed to click.
(Here it is if you want to read it: https://joyfullifemagazine.com/oh-death-where-is-your-sting/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=new_post_oh_death_where_is_your_sting_by_bekah_bowman&utm_term=2019-07-12)
This article was written by a momma with two sons diagnosed with chronic fatal illnesses. She went through and explained that she was mad at the disease. So mad that she couldn’t even see her son. Then God gently showed her the cross. She realized He knew what it felt like to see His son unfairly suffering. As she was pointed to the Cross, she felt God’s compassion. Here she got to experience God up close and personal. Here she felt His love. Now, she was able to see her son, not the disease that was eating his life.
That was a message I needed to hear-Our God is a God of compassion. He understands how we are feeling. He wants us to give him our burdens.
I needed that article. I needed that book. Both of those writings were written by the hands of God’s servants and placed into my hands at just the right time so that I too could see God up close and personal! The testimony of their suffering brought me peace from God.
God is a good God. God is a compassionate God. And God cares for you.
God also has the power to heal, but sometimes He choose not to. Sometimes greater glory comes to God through our suffering. If I was not in a place of suffering, I never would have been in a place to see Him up close and personal! In our suffering, we more willing to draw nearer to God and experience Him in a whole new light.
Do I wish God would take away our suffering? Absolutely. And one day He will. One day we will all be in a perfect place with God forever. Until then, I will worship God for who He is. He is a BIG God! And He is a good God, all the time… even in our suffering. He is near to those who call on His name.
If you are in a period of suffering, I know God wants you to experience His peace. Draw near to Him. I pray that God gives you peace, comfort, and the opportunity to experience His love up close and personal!