Journey – Part Two

JOURNEY2-727933Fragile.” That’s what my dad calls me. Mom always says that God put me together with spare parts. A huge component of my challenges this past year has been accepting and working with my unique limitations allowed by my Heavenly Father.

For a while I felt like something about me would always be “broken”; we live in a fallen world so such is to be expected sometimes. I am blessed that none of my problems are advanced enough to be life-threatening. When I think of a friend who went from being “fine” to experiencing paralysis and facing death because of a brain tumor in a matter of hours, my trials are nothing.

The apostle Paul writes of a “thorn in the flesh” which served as a constant reminder of his need for the Lord. I view mine as the same. Do I like it? No. Did I pray for healing and answers? Certainly. Am I content to live my life with the realization there are no cures for the things I face? Today I am.

It still catches me off guard sometimes to hear of a friend who “hasn’t been to the doctor in years” if ever. Like most self-absorbed humans, I often forget that everyone is not just like me. You mean others don’t have a string of doctors and specialists with medical records six inches thick? You have not grown up battling x or y?

The search for answers to my sickness and pain began years ago but in February of 2006 I dropped in on a doctor to learn everything I could do to avoid getting sick on my upcoming trip to the Middle East. I hadn’t been feeling well and the last thing I wanted on this trip of a lifetime was to be in constant pain or unable to eat. The doctor gave me some assistance and left me with a comment unrelated to my reason for the visit. He noticed some physical symptoms that were unusual and encouraged me to see a specialist when I got back.

Four months later the journey began to climb a mountain so steep I could not see the summit. No closer to answers but more desperate than before, I began the gauntlet. I now have five doctors on “my string”and some answers. Back when my search began I only prayed “for answers.” I did not realize one answer is, “We don’t know.” All of a sudden many strange symptoms and concerns made sense but what comfort is that if there is no cure?

I can only imagine how a cancer patient must feel. No cure. Only treatments. A chance to fight back and maybe live a full life. “No cure” held heavier meaning now that it attached itself to me. Now it is a part of my thorn.

My parents are amazing. Together we sought out Christians who practice the truth that the whole person must be treated: body, mind and spirit. We cannot understand the multitude of ways they are connected; we just know that they are. Godly counsel was essential. Weeks of learning from those who excel in their field was needed. Prayer was vital. But my steps were slowing. I was tired.

Thus is the nature of my thorn. Yours may wear a different face but the challenge remains the same: when God says “no” to our request for a good thing, what will we do? How will we respond when the way is blocked which seems best in our eyes? Can we survive the burial of a dream?

Read the entire Journey series.

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One thought on “Journey – Part Two

  1. Archived comments:

    At 7:46 AM, Anonymous said…
    Thanks for sharing, Natalie;).

    At 11:45 AM, lizzykristine said…
    Natalie, thanks for your courage in, first, writing this, and second, posting it.

    2005 was such a year for me. I was struggling with broken health, broken heart, and broken friendships, all around the time of the turmoil of moving overseas. I begged God to stop breaking me because I didn’t think there was anything left to break, and begged Him to fulfill His Word soon, that “Again I will build you” (Jer. 31:4).

    I too had to face the question of what to do when my desires and expectations were denied. Doubt His goodness? I did for a while. Doubt that He cared about my pain? That too. Acceptance came later. And “in acceptance lieth peace” (Amy Carmichael).

    And again He has built me.

    At 12:40 PM, Katie said…
    Natalie,

    Although I have certainly not gone through the physical trials you have- I understand the pain and uncertainty of chronic illness.
    Both my Father, older sister and I were all diagnois with chronic illnesses, of which there are no cures.

    Thank you for sharing these difficult things- its ministered to me SO much. I’m so grateful that you’re will to open your life up as a testimony of Gods grace and mercy.

    At 2:08 PM, Anonymous said…
    *hugs* I knew that you had had some physical suffering but did not know the extent (and perhaps I will never be able to comprehend it all) but I can tell that you have overcome much. I am continually amazed when I see people who do and have done so many things despite their limitations (it is God!). I just started reading a book written by Joni Eareckson ( a thriftstore find) and it really blew me away. And made me look at myself in a different light, me who has been blessed with good health and yet I complain when I get a cold?
    ~Jaclynn

    At 2:35 PM, Anonymous said…
    What you shared touched my heart… thank you!! :) May the Lord give you much comfort, joy and peace; may you feel safe in Him! Debbie

    At 6:15 PM, Anonymous said…
    Dear Natalie,
    Thank you for your honesty, humility and courage in sharing your sufferings. This is the first time I have commented, but I have read YLCF for years and have been so blessed by your (and others’) writings. Thank you for working so diligently for Our Lord.

    Blessings,
    Maria

    At 6:28 PM, faithfully_waiting said…
    Without suffering, we would not have life. Trial and travail is God’s way of refining us to better reflect Him. It is when we lack hardship that we should worry. The only way we grow and become stronger in faith and trust in the One who made us, is through the afflictions of life. To deny that we experience pain is to deny being a human on this earth. We can only pray that the ultimate outcome *will* be greater faith and reliance on God rather than turning our back on Him.

    Consider the many accounts in the Scriptures of those who suffered: Job, David, Jonah, Paul… and most especially Jesus Christ whose whole life was sacrificed, even unto death.

    James counsels us to “…count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations [trials]; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…” (James 1:2-5 KJV)

    God loves those whom He chastens (Heb. 12:6-11, Rev. 3:19). How thankful we are that God loves us enough to try us, though at times it can feel like we can take no more. Our Heavenly Father has promised that He will not give us more than we can bear (I Cor. 10:13) and we must rest in Him as our refuge during times of trouble (Psalm 9:9, etc.).

    Natalie, you will be in my prayers. May God give you the strength and courage to persevere. How wonderful it is that you have been given a partner to walk by your side through your journey. :) May His blessings continue to be bestowed upon you. The will of Yahweh will be accomplished regardless, but I believe in miracles. I’m sure you do, too. :)

    ~Jenna

    At 9:04 PM, Kristin said…
    Natalie,

    Thank you for this post and the others in your ongoing series. I can relate exactly to what you are saying because I have experienced very similar physical ailments this past year.

    You said, Thus is the nature of my thorn. Yours may wear a different face but the challenge remains the same: when God says “no” to our request for a good thing, what will we do? How will we respond when the way is blocked which seems best in our eyes? Can we survive the burial of a dream?

    I grappled with this question in regards to my ailments recently and happened to read Joni Earekson Tada’s book The God I Love. In it, I ran across this passage that seems to apply here. Interestingly, Mrs. Tada is at the Pool of Bethesda when she realizes God’s answer to her prayers in regards to her illness.

    “I leaned on my arm against the guardrail. I whispered, “And now…after thirty years…I’m here…I made it. Jesus didn’t pass me by. He didn’t overlook me. He came my way and answered my prayer – He said no.

    “Lord, your no answer to physical healing meant yes to a deeper healing – a better one. Your answer has bound me to other believers and taught me so much about myself. It’s purged sin from my life, it’s strengthened my commitment to you, forced me to depend on your grace. Your wiser, deeper answer has stretched my hope, refined my faith, and helped me to know you better. And you are good. You are so good.”

    I will keep you in my prayers Natalie! May God bless you….
    -Kristin

    At 9:28 AM, Anonymous said…
    Thank you Natalie, once again for sharing your heart and how God is working in your life/heart. I have been struggling with wanting to know what tomorrow will bring, but God does not promise us that…

    I have had some things that I’ve had to work through in the physical realm, and I’ve come to realize I’m more sensitive to things than perhaps some of my family is. (Food anyways) :)
    I appreciated the details you shared…I shall be be praying for you. (hugs)

    Love,
    ~Anna

    At 2:40 PM, Susan said…
    Thank you for sharing this, Natalie. It opens my eyes to how blessed I am, and how much God has been working to sanctify you and others who suffer from physical ailments. God bless you!

    (By the way, referring to my previous comment, about details being helpful, I merely meant vague details, such as what you were struggling with, and just mentioning health problems is quite enough, and takes it out of the extremely abstract realm. Thanks!)

    At 11:51 PM, marilyn said…
    If any of you have a problem with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), vitex (chasteberry) is worth a try, according to Dr. Nancy Dunne. She has a very detailed description of chasteberry and how it can help with PCOS, infertility, and restoring normal cycles. Her article lists several interesting medical studies on vitex.

    Like

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