Friday, August 22, 2008

Learning




Yesterday, when we were having school, Bubba looked up at me and said, "Momma, thank you for learning me." Tears came in my eyes and I said, "You're welcome. I love learning you!".

That conversation made me think about what God is "learning" me and... if I am thankful. Right now in my walk with God, I am learning that His plan for me is good even when it doesn't feel good. How He turns our suffering into beauty and how He is the good Shepherd who has gone before us and mapped out the safest route so that we will not be harmed by our enemy or fall off a cliff. Not only does He know the safest route, He carries us over His shoulders and holds us close to His heart as we follow Him.


When suffering happens in your life, it is so easy to question God's goodness and His ultimate control in allowing hardship into our lives. I have wrestled with these thoughts in a huge way over the last 3 years. I am going to share a little more of my story with you. Not so you will feel sorry for me but so you can understand where I am coming from when I write this post.


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On July 6, 2005, I felt like I was getting the flu. My body ached, my neck was stiff and and my head was throbbing. I had chills and swollen lymph nodes. I thought, like all the other times I had been sick, that I would be well in a couple of days. Instead, I got worse. Reece was about 2 and I was nursing Bubba. I didn't have a doctor because I never needed one before then. I looked one up in the phone book. When I went to the doctor, they told me I had mono. Then the test for mono came back negative, then they told me it was something else and then something else and on and on... About 3 weeks into it, I went to the ER because my neck hurt so bad, and I was afraid it was spinal meningitis. They did a spinal tap which punctured a hole in my spinal column which I had to have a surgery to fix because all the fluid drained out from my spinal column. That fluid is the cushion for your brain, without which your brain can move around in your skull, causing horrible, shocking headaches. The story goes down hill. I didn't think I would be able to raise my boys. I begged God to let me be a mom to my boys. Still, no answers- not from God, not from doctors. I had been to Infectious Disease Doctors, Rheumatologists, Internists, Family Practice- no answers. Then I started having memory loss and was pretty much bedridden. 7 months later, we went out of state to see a specialist who tested for Lyme Disease. That is when I was diagnosed with this horrible disease that hijacked my life. Since then, I have been on antibiotics for 3 years (17 weeks of IV antibiotics) and now I am on these painful shots every week. I have flown to see the best doctor I can find in NY about 15 times.

This has been the greatest battle Tim and I have ever faced. I have come a long way but it is still a battle. The battle for my health has been a big one, but not as big as the battle for my FAITH.

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God could have stopped me from being in the "wrong place at the wrong time". But was it really "the wrong place and the wrong time" or does such a place even exist for a child of God? He could have led us to a doctor that would have diagnosed it early and saved me from years of suffering. But... He didn't. This was so easily preventable but... He didn't prevent it. Is this just suffering due to the fact we live in a broken world that is wrecked with disease or... is there a bigger picture at work in our suffering?
Can God heal me with a touch or with one word? YES!! But..
He hasn't.
Now, the next natural question is... Is God good and is this part of His specific plan for my life OR am I just a victim who is suffering for no reason with a God who is unable to help?
This is a real mind battle. You, who have gone through tragedy or hardship KNOW the depths of darkness and the struggle associated with this. Is there really a plan for our lives or is that just the Sunday School answer? Let's look.
"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out EVERYTHING in conformity with the purpose of his will," Ephesians 1:11
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
"... the things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. " Psalms 40:5
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." 2 Cor 2:9
"But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever..." Psalm 33:11
"But the Lord watches over the way [can be translated road/path or journey] of the righteous." Psalm 1:6
Check this out...
God even predetermined when you would be born and where you will live in order that you may have every opportunity to seek Him and find Him.
"and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though He is not far from each one of us."
Acts 17:26
There are many other verses pointing to a divine plan at work in each of our lives.
God's ultimate plan for us is that we be conformed in the likeness of Jesus.
Jesus himself knew we were going to have trouble and warned us.
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33
So, when trouble comes and hits hard, where do we turn? Where do we find hope? What is the anchor for our soul? The Word of God. There is rest there. There is hope there. There is peace there. There is a portrait of God (in total control) painted in there.
"If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction." Psalm 119:92
"This is my comfort in my affliction... Your word has given me life." Psalm 119:50
"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word." Psalm 119:114
Suffering and a sovereign God- what a difficult concept to understand!! I know He is just waiting until He can wipe away our tears with his nail-scarred hands when we see Him face to face. And he can reveal to us, then, the glorious and mysterious purpose in our suffering. We do know now that we are being changed into the image of God. Why suffering? I have no idea. Like Job said, some "things are too wonderful for me to know (42:3)".
We have to trust Him when we don't know and we have to worship Him in the storms.
"Though He slay me, YET will I hope in Him." Job 13:15
"So if you are suffering according to God's will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, FOR HE WILL NEVER FAIL YOU."
1 Peter 4:19
So, this is what God is "learning" me :) and my desire is to be thankful. Thankful for all the lessons no matter how hard. This is NOT EASY and is such a choice. The natural tendency of my heart is to be angry, distrusting and hurt. But every time I open my Bible, I can't HATE this trial as much as I want to. I know His hand is in it so it has to be good. Please continue to pray for complete healing for me as I prepare to make another trip to New York alone.

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God, help us to trust you. Like the Father who cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; [but]help my unbelief!". We want to trust You- help us. Help us to see You in the storms and to know that Your plan cannot be thwarted. You are good. You will always be good. Make us more like Christ through suffering. Praise be to You, Lord, that You daily bear our burdens and that we are never alone. Give us perseverance in the dark days when faith is tested. Help us KNOW that "You are good and what you do is good" (Ps 119:68). That You can take what the enemy meant for evil and use it for good! That no weapon against us can prosper because of your power! We are wholly Yours.
Be blessed~
Steph

"Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."
Psalm 34:8

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I LOOK TO YOU FOR PROTECTION.
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until this violent storm is past."
Psalm 57:1


11 comments:

Hollie said...

So sweet! You are doing an awesome job! :)

According to Kiki! said...

I related so well to this post. I too have been suffering physically for some time now. I have been breaking out in total body hives. The specialist that I have seen can not determine what is causing it. I am on TONS of medication and struggle as you do daily. Thank you for sharing your "learning"... God's word is always an encouragement and just what I needed today Thank you! I will be praying for you and your trip to NY.

Sean Hanzelik said...

Hey there. A friend of mine shared your blog with me when I passed the address of my blog along to her. I enjoyed reading your writing.

I'm gonna share your blog with my blog readers. Hope you don't mind.

And, if you feel so compelled, maybe you can share my blog with your readers. I am going to add yours as a favorite link of mine.

Here is mine:

http://seanhanzelik.blogspot.com/

Thanks, and God bless,

Sean

Andrew's mom said...

Hope you have a safe trip tomorrow. I'll be thinking about you while you're gone. Great post, by the way, really what I needed to read right now!!

hennhouse said...

Wow. You are amazing.

Erin said...

I'm sure you are probably familiar with Beth Moore. If you haven't read her book, "Get out of That Pit," she has an amazing chapter on beginning to understand why God allows his children to suffer.

She writes about the story of Joseph in Genesis. About how God *allowed* Joseph's brothers to throw him into the pit and then sell him into slavery to the Egyptians. Later in Genesis, God speaks and says that He allowed harm to come Joseph. The harm that came to Joseph of course leads to his saving Israel and the Israelites from starvation during the 7 years of famine among other things.

Beth continues to explain that those of us who are "thrown into a pit" can take comfort that we are not hated by God, "or worse forgotten by Him," because really those of us who have been thrown into a pit were CHOSEN by God to endure suffering that would lead to a greater purpose, great glory for Him. (I had to run and get my book to quote you the amazing closing paragraph to the chapter) :

"Beloved, let this one sink in deeply: if God allowed you to be thrown into a pit, you weren't picked on; you were picked out. God entrusted that suffering to you because He has faith in you. Live up to it. All the way up."

I hope that provides you some comfort in the days ahead! I will be praying for you, new friend.

Erin
erinsouthwell@gmail.com

maryanne420 said...

hi stephanie,

first off, i want to thank you for sharing your story. i definitely lift you up in prayers, you and your family. you really have been through a lot. God bless you. take comfort in knowing that whatever happens, God still sits in his throne.

your friend from california,
mary anne

BethAnne said...

Of all the things I expected you to say, I would have never dreamed Lyme Disease! I went through a similar time when the Lord used an illness to draw me to Him.....probably nothing like you are going through, but HE did 'learn' me a lot during what I call 'my year in the desert'. So as not to leave too long a comment, I will let you read about it here if you want to

http://waitingfortheshout.blogspot.com/2008/01/my-baby-is-4.html

I will definitely be praying for you and for your trip to NY.

Beth

Julie and Luke said...

"If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction." Psalm 119:92

That is such a wonderful verse for me to hear in this season. Thank you for the time that you take to post these beautiful blogs girl. I love you!

gillian said...

BEAUTIFUL!!! My eyes filled with tears when I read the first sentence of your post, Bubba saying 'thank you for learning me!!!' Must have melted your heart and soul!!!

Thank you for sharing your heart for Jesus!!!

Tara said...

I'm so encouraged by your words & God's Word in this post. Thank you for sharing - God's used you in my life today. Thank you!

What a great blog this is! I'll definitely be back!