When my alarm went off on Thursday morning, I was discouraged to realize that I felt just as unwell as I had when I had fallen asleep the night before. I hit snooze, and took a couple of Tylenol before putting my head back on the pillow. It was the third day in a row that I hadn’t been feeling well. Only three weeks earlier, I had gone through a similar experience. I am prone to sinus infections, but my body refuses to fight the bacteria in my head and instead attacks my digestive system. This week, it occurred to me that it has been ten years since my infections became chronic. I have become accustomed to working when I don’t feel well, because it is too common for me to stay home every time.
Being used to a problem doesn’t make it less discouraging. When things get tough, our human response is often to ask, “Why?” We may understand that God has a purpose, but it is difficult to be comfortable in the trial when you don’t know what that purpose is. Yet, we usually aren’t as concerned with the why as we are with the when it will end. We are looking for an answer to our prayers for the trial to end, but not looking for wisdom or the lesson God may have for us. So in all of our questioning to God about our circumstances, we rarely stop to listen for an answer.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I know that many other people are dealing with circumstances that seem to cloud every day. So much time is spent praying for circumstances to change, and it can be discouraging when God doesn’t seem to be doing anything. Appearances can be deceiving; God doesn’t miss a thing. On the other hand, we are prone to missing God in the midst of circumstances that we don’t like. He is there asking us to lean on Him, inviting us to lay our burdens at His feet. Yet we tend to focus so much on how weak we feel, that we don’t think to go to Him for strength. We are so concerned with wanting Him to remove the burdens, that we don’t hand them off to Him. There is no magic formula to learning to rely on God. But there is a God who is working things together for our good, a God who using our trials to make us “perfect and complete.”
As I pulled myself out of bed on Thursday, I was praying. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day. I found some forward momentum and got through my morning routine. I was thinking to myself that there was no way I would be able to get through the workday without some help from God. As I started the drive to work, I was listening to Chris Tomlin. The song “How Can I Keep From Singing” came on. I truly felt it in my heart, and I even sang along a bit, in spite of how I felt physically. This was new; the seemingly constant, nagging health issues tend to drag me down into depression. I realized that, mentally, I was handling life better. I was taking it one day at a time, trusting and relying on God. I was experiencing joy in the midst of my struggle.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I don’t know when my heart started to change. Somewhere along the way, I accepted that this was the life that God had for me, and I stopped asking questions. I know that I have been encouraged by the testimony of Mary on The Frey Life. She has helped me to see my health in a different light. Her health concerns are much more serious than mine, but she faces each day choosing joy and doing as much as she is feeling up to. Thursday, as I felt joy singing praises on the way to work, I realized that I had peace about my situation. I was relying on God to get me through the day, and I wasn’t looking much further ahead than that. I began to wonder whether that was God’s purpose in my health problems, to teach me to rely on Him.
I don’t want to jump to conclusions or get ahead of myself, but I am encouraged because I know that this particular situation has drawn me closer to Him. It has taught me to pray from the time I hear the alarm in the morning, until I am falling asleep at night. It has taught me to be thankful for all the little things that God does to help me through at work, when I don’t feel like holding my head up. I also see that I am coping better with facing the future and not letting myself be discouraged. After all, “tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” God wants me to fully rely on Him, and nothing makes me more dependent on Him than not knowing how I am going to get myself up and ready for work. After He carries me that far, I need Him to get through the work day, one task at a time. I was amazed how well I was able to do on Thursday. I went to work and was able to find some joy, accomplish some things, and be of use to other people. What a blessing!