James 1:2-8 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Perhaps it is a weakness in my character that requires refinement? To witness the love of Christ to others in our times of trial serves as both a powerful witness for Christ and perfector of our own faith. Heck, with the amount of suffering I have endured, I don’t want any of it to be wasted. Or repeated! So today I wonder if it is possible that I have missed one particular situation of opportunity: the Emergency Room. Finally my broken heart has calmed down enough to consider the possibility . . .
Ten times I have landed in the ER in the past 4 1/2 years. The first time was at the beginning of this illness with the viral hepatitis that started it all. The next nine trips were all for wretched, continual seizure attacks that would not stop. Most times the ER Docs could get them and the pain that accompanied them to stop with a combination of fluids and some kind of medication. Often the medication made me worse. Usually I would walk out of there about 5 hours later as a beaten puppy with an exhausted husband faithfully at my side. And sometimes I even got a break in the convulsive episodes for some of the subsequent 24 hours. This became less true with each subsequent visit.
Twice during my severe distress, barely able to punch out a few words when having difficulty breathing and my “brain on fire,” I have sworn at the person who I thought was not helping me. Not cool. Even a person with Tourette’s Syndrome or senile dementia has some responsibility to try to find reasonable means to communicate his or her needs. My frustration got the best of me and I forgot who I belong to in Christ. I forgot Who was in charge those nights in the ER. I forgot who allowed these refining fires into my life for my highest good. I lost the image He gave me of His tears as He hung from the cross for me. I ceased to remember the gifts, the crown of glory that awaits those who are in Christ Jesus. I certainly did not remember that even these ugly things were working together for my good (Romans 8:28) even when amongst the staff at the hospital. And my witness for the One Who saved me was tarnished for sure. In my own strength, I failed to get my needs met and failed to minister. We left this past Friday night with me weeping, still seizing, and unable to walk . . .
Sure, I am human: weak, limited in strength and in power. I pray and my husband prays continuously for all aspects of this illness. I submit to the will of Christ. I could also describe for you the victories, the growth, the good things that have happened amidst the traumatic. For example, Friday night after an IV treatment for chronic Lyme disease was supposed to be for salvaging what remained of my birthday. That did not happen when I spent the evening in the emergency room. I was sick all day on Saturday and Sunday. Even so there were sweet gifts at dusk on each of those days and in the morning on Monday when I got to work in my garden again; for that I am grateful. My spirit soars out there dontcha know . . .
Here is the scripture that is convicting me on a Tuesday. See if you can follow where my heart, where my spirit has led me:
2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (NIV)
4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Such is the opportunity for ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for those who suffer. It’s not all about us. My Lord, help me in your grace to use the witness of Your own life and the apostle Paul who wrote these words to strengthen my own ministry in times of need for your glory. I have failed and want to do as You would have me do no matter what happens to me. Please strengthen my beloved Steve as well. Thank you for his care, love, and companionship in the best of times, the worst of times. Bless him oh please. He has been so good to me.