It’s the phone call that knocks all the wind out of your sails or the diagnosis that knocks the wind right out of you. It’s the news that shakes the ground beneath your feet. Sometimes life’s circumstances are enough to stop us in our tracks while everything comes crashing down around us, destroying our plans and the life we thought we were building. Like the song says, “I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees.” (Closer to Love by Mat Kearney) Ever been there? Smashed by your situation? I have.
It was the week before fourth of July. The store isles were stocked with barbecuing supplies and the air was filled with summer grilling every evening. The warm air and yummy smells were not enough to take away the pain in my head. I had a horrible headache that Ibuprofen wouldn’t touch in one quadrant of my head, and had escaped to the balcony for a minute away from my rambunctious kiddoes. I was mad that my head hurt so bad and that I could not focus on my to-do list of accomplishments I had planned for the day.
What started as a blur in my head-aching eye a few days later, turned into almost complete vision loss after a week. The optometrist said I was likely experiencing an ocular migraine – which is like a headache in your eye that can disturb your vision, and that I needed to have my eyes checked. I remember feeling the Lord’s presence while driving to the office. He was holding me, and I wondered why He was so near, if this was as simple as an ocular migraine? One does not need an ever present help, if one is not in a time of trouble, right?
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalms 46:1)
After a visit with an eye doctor to find out there was absolutely nothing wrong with my eyes, he found it inexplicable that I could not see. I was told to go home and rest. Maybe it was stress induced. I called my primary care office which ended up in a next day appointment, followed by a rush to the ER to be treated for what the doctor thought could be a brain bleed or a tumor. That’s a super fun thing to hear your doctor say! 😉 I knew it had been occurring too long for a brain bleed to be likely, as I would have already been dead. So that left the possibility of a brain tumor…
After being poked and prodded, and having bodily fluid samples taken, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting – in comes the ER doc. He is certain I am experiencing an ocular migraine, so they throw drug cocktails and migraine injections. But like under-cooked spaghetti hitting a wall, nothing was sticking. The “ocular migraine” was unresponsive to their best efforts.
The “just-in-case” MRI they had ordered took hours to get into, and hours to get results. It turns out our toddler doesn’t do well being cooped up in an exam room for 8 hours. One crazy toddler and being a drugged up mama left me ready to pull the IV port out of my arm and high tail it out of there. About two minutes before I was planning to take my stress-induced-drug-unresponsive-ocular-migraine to the car, the doctor abruptly walks in and finds me standing, ready to pull the IV out.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalms 56:3)
Without pause or admitting incorrectness, he blurts out: “Your MRI was indicative of MS.” Wham! Nothing else he said was heard. I know what multiple sclerosis (MS) is and understand the full weight of what the diagnosis means. I sat down on the bed trying to process what was happening and to find out what specifically he saw on the MRI reading. But the doctor did not want to talk. It was 11 pm and his shift was over.
Peace in the Waiting
The nurse would stay with me to pump me full of steroids. I would have to go to the infusion center for the next two days for steroid infusions to stop my body from attacking itself. Thus began the horrid waiting. Waiting for the infusions. Waiting for the high doses of steroids to bring on side effects. Waiting for MRI results to count the brain lesions. Waiting for my body to attack itself again. Waiting for symptoms to appear. The statistics run through my head.
Statistically speaking, I have two years before my body will attack itself again. Some people experience numbness in their hands, feet, arms, and legs. Other shooting, burning pain. Sometimes, you can’t walk – research suggests 28 years from the first symptom to walking with a cane or being in a wheelchair. Sometimes you cannot control your bowels or your bladder. Over and over they run through my mind. What part of my body will have its function stolen next? How will I take care of my children, if I can’t even take care of myself? Should we start medicine? Are the side effects going to be worse than the symptoms or disease progression?
As I am drowning in my worry, my Savior quickly pulls me out and reminds me that He knew this was coming. He made my body, and is sovereignly in control of everything it does. I am breathing because he gives me breath and life. His word washes over me, and reminds me that he already paid for my healing.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
God is fully in control and will use this situation for my good and His glory.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I do not have to carry the burden of worrying about this, because He is my peace. My eternity is soundly secured by His sacrifice.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
The creator of the universe sees me, and He sees you. He knows what situation is smashing you. He has you here for a reason, and will equip you to get through this!
My situation is not the first time He has placed one of His followers in the middle of a seemingly tragic trial. In what the world sees as an unfortunate tragedy, we as Christ followers know to see His providence and plan. His word is full of storys in which this has already played out (and p.s. we know how the ultimate story ends!). Let’s look at a few 🙂 For starters: God put Daniel in the Lion’s den.
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