I wrote yesterday about my recent journey of discovery regarding my own wisdom and God’s wisdom. (The upshot: God is infinitely wise; I’m not.)
A month ago I was diagnosed with a rare, chronic endocrine disorder called Addison’s Disease. If you’re the type of person who worries that they have an illness, let me tell you that the chances of you having it are infinitesimally small. (Seriously, if you’re somebody who a) reads my blog and b) knows they have Addison’s, please comment below. And perhaps buy a lottery ticket (joke).)
This is a chronic condition that is treatable but not curable. I’ll most likely have it until (whoop whoop) I get my new body from the Lord Jesus.
Let me tell you that these past few weeks have not been a time of serenely delving into God’s word and floating on a cloud of the peace which transcends understanding. I hope I can encourage you today, but from the perspective of someone who’s weak and broken in the storm rather than someone sleeping on a cushion.
When shocking news comes, most people go through a range of emotions. I’ve been through a few and haven’t finished. There was a day when I cried a lot. I prayed and I didn’t feel like praying, I listened to music, I talked to family members. I was grief-stricken. I was grieving the loss of my health.
I’m so grateful, and I was even on that teary day, that we’re allowed to be sad. Here are some things you sometimes hear, which don’t help at all:
- Life is hard and we should expect things like this
I know we live in a fallen and broken world, full of disease and death. But I also know that God made us for life, not death, and our hearts long for the world without any of this. (See for example Romans 8:22-25)
- I’m strong
I’m weak. There’s nothing quite like an illness to drive this home. But in my weakness, the Lord is my strength. (See for example 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
- Things could be worse: I should just be grateful for the care I’m given
I am grateful for good care. Chatting to a friend from Côte d’Ivoire, I was reminded that I don’t need to choose between food and medicine. But I’m also grateful that God doesn’t compare me to others, and I’m allowed to be sad about the dependence on medicine whilst also giving thanks for his provision.
- It’s not a big deal
It feels big to me. The Lord doesn’t weigh up my problem and decide whether to meet us in it or not. (Remember when God made Elisha’s mate’s axe head float?) He knows our hearts. He’s patient with me, guiding me through. The more we depend on him, the more we honour him. (See for example Psalm 23; Psalm 131)
(Aside: Sometimes we don’t feel able to read our Bibles. That’s when we need our friends to preach to us. I hope you’ve got friends like that. I’ve also found that using a Bible app that reads the Word out to me can help me when I don’t have the energy to lift my head.)
So it’s not wrong to be sad about things. But if I had no hope, I’m not sure I’d dare to lament.
As a Christian, with the hope of eternal life, I see in the psalms that lamenting is a process which doesn’t last forever. In order to reach the level ground of acceptance or the dizzy heights of heartfelt, joyful thanksgiving, I need to pass through the valley of lament.
A dear friend preached Psalm 13 to me the week I was diagnosed. She showed me that the Lord has gone before me. He knows that at times I will feel that he has hidden his face from me. I will wrestle with my thought as my mind races with fears and anxiety and my heart is filled with sorrow. But because I bring all of that to him, I can say with David:
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. (v5-6)