Years ago, when I was much younger, 22 to be precise, I was involved in the restoration of a historic church building. It had been left derelict for years. To see it returned to its original glory as a place of worship was amazing.
After the restoration was completed, I would visit the church on my way home from work. I loved the quietness and solace that God’s house provided. Especially this building as I had invested so much of my heart and soul into the restoration process. I had grown up in church life. My Dad was a minister and I had given my own heart to Jesus with childlike faith at the age of 7. It wasn’t until I was 21 though that I experienced a strong call to serve God, no matter what circumstances I found myself in.
My Heart’s Song
As a 22-year-old standing in that empty church at the end of the day I would sing out loud my favorite hymn:
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
As I sang that song with complete faith that God would be with me every step of my life, I had no idea what I would be facing 27 years later. I sang those words with such conviction, not realizing they would have even more meaning to me as I lost my mobility, my career, and my life as I knew it on so many levels.
“How can you be so positive? I’d be curled in a ball in the corner crying uncontrollably if I was you. What’s your secret?”
These are just some of the things that people say to me when they hear my story.
I was diagnosed with a rare debilitating, progressive bone disease in 2014 at the age of 48. My bones are too dense and I have a dangerously low bone turnover that has resulted in a broken left femur that spontaneously snapped in two on October 6th, 2014. Three years later it still won’t heal. I have a stress fracture in my right femur and both legs have rods from hip to knee. I have constant foot fractures, disc bulges, compressed nerves throughout my spine, scoliosis and pain that on a good day is 6/10. Because my bowel ceased to function, I have a permanent colostomy. In the past three years, I’ve had 7 surgeries on my left leg alone. There is no treatment and no cure.
Despite my chronic disease, I laugh, I love and I thank God daily for the amazing blessings he has bestowed upon me.
The list is bountiful:
- A beautiful Christian husband who is my best friend, my soul mate, my lover & my full-time carer
- A beautiful home that provides me a safe haven
- A wonderful purpose and ministry, caring for others through my online support forum I founded, for people with a chronic and complex disease.
- Friends and family who uphold me in prayer
- A peace and joy that passes all understanding
- An acceptance of my circumstances, which is undoubtedly the greatest gift God could have given me.
Hold to His Truth
There have been so many verses of Scripture that have been an amazing encouragement but perhaps the two I hold onto the most are:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1Peter 4 v 12,13)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29 v 11)
God never promises us an easy life but he does promise us a life full of purpose, joy, and hope. Our bodies were never made to last but our souls are. We can invest so much time worrying about being sick and seeking healing. Don’t get me wrong, I believe God can heal and miracles of healing when there appears to be no hope do absolutely happen. I also believe that often the greatest healing comes when God heals the heart and mind bringing peace, acceptance, and joy despite less than desirable circumstances.
I trust God to be with me through my journey. He has never failed me in sickness or in health. As I have kept my eyes on the things above, He has always opened opportunities for me to serve Him. God comforts me as I pray, sing songs of praise and read my Bible. He gives me assurance that He is the same God who was nurturing and guiding that 21-year-old all those years ago.
As my faith has grown over the years, God has trusted me with more. More experiences of life that have given me insight & empathy for others that I would never have had otherwise.
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”
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