2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
Recently I sat on the examining table in my doctor's office when she said, "You are amazing." I did not know how to reply, but kept listening. She explained the comment to me and her words reminded me that it has nothing really to do with me, but everything to do with the miracle the Lord works in my life every day. I should not be able to eat or digest much of anything at all, but yet somehow God makes it all work. His designs are so intricate that we don't acknowledge the daily miracles happening in our bodies as we breathe, eat, live...we tend to forget until something breaks down. Then we beg Him to make it work right again.This post shares why I take joy in my infirmities because they draw me so much closer to My Creator.
So easy to take so many things for granted, but this summer has been a reminder to me of how very lucky I am. If you wonder why, I must say that I have been upheld by prayer for my whole life. Even when I struggled in my faith, abandoned belief and tried to ignore the Lord in my life, family and loved ones have prayed for me. Many times I have received the benefit of prayer asking for healing for the "terminal" disease I was diagnosed with in my early 20s. My Dad and many others in my family prayed daily for me to survive. And I know that these prayers have made a huge difference in my life.
But back to this summer, the reminders came with the stark reality of two 5-day hospitalizations and a series of tests confirming that the doctors have no explanation whatsoever how anything works in my digestion. All the tests, x-rays and imaging procedures confirm the original diagnosis--chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. What does it mean? That my digestion can work backwards, too fast forwards, and freeze up altogether; a mighty painful process for me. It is in this weakness that the Lord and my faith in Him has been made strong.
Intestines are not designed to stop and go into paralysis ever. They are supposed to work smoothly propelling what we eat through the mouth, taking the elevator of the esophagus down to the stomach for digestion, through the small intestine where the nutrients we need to live are picked up by the bloodstream, then through the large intestine for water, electrolytes and minerals to be reabsorbed. It is an intricate process that when it works is easy to take for granted. This summer's particular challenge resided in my esophagus.
We are only reminded of all this when something goes wrong in the process. And things went pretty wrong for me in the summer of 1979 when I was just 24. That December my weight dropped from 145 to 86 pounds. I found myself in ICU fighting for my very life. My digestion had become paralyzed the previous June and despite trying to eat, I became severely malnourished with a huge belly full of undigested food. The San Diego doctors, stumped by my disease, sent me to UCLA for help. My stomach doctor had learned about an experimental program being used there that she hoped might help me. Prayers already being answered!
The UCLA cure was tough to live with, daily dependence for 12 hours on of a machine feeding me directly into my bloodstream. If I ate food, I landed in the hospital. So my daily prayer became "Lord, please, just let me eat, please..."
No positive answer came for 7 long years, just keep praying and waiting and praying and waiting. The Lord molded me demonstrating where my priorities should be. A couple of years into the battle, two special new friends led me back to the Lord. I started attending church again and was baptized by immersion. I continued to pray and started studying taekwondo side by side with my husband. I learned that exercise not only helped me feel better, it also created artificial movement in my intestines that helped food move through more easily. And all that time, prayers continued to be sent aloft by my loved ones and church family and me. My walk with the Lord became stronger. But His plan still had a long way to unfold.
"Most gladly...glorify in my infirmities..." That is a really tough one and hard to accept. Yet today my friend, Coleene VanTilburg
|Coleene and myself at AWF|
And never forget the power of prayer! My husband reminded me this very morning that prayer is so important and His answer can be "Yes" or "No" and sometimes "Wait." And it is in the waiting that I have found my purpose, my joy, and my love of the Lord!