Saturday, May 31, 2014

Having lupus, Part 10: My relationship with God

Oh love that will not let me go I rest my weary soul in thee.
I give thee back the life I owe that in thine ocean depths its flow 
May richer, fuller be.

Oh light that follows all my way I yield my flickering torch to thee.
My heart restores its borrowed ray that in the sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

Oh joy that seeks me through the pain I cannot close my heart to thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain and feel the promise is not in vain
That morn shall tearless be.
-Oh love that will not let me go, George Matheson, written June 6, 1882

I am no expert.  Far from it.  I may not even be right.  But as I began to put my thoughts and feelings into words, I realized that to provide an honest look into my journey with lupus I would have to talk about God.

I feel like my spiritual life has been so deeply impacted by my health.  While words seem inadequate to explain this, I will offer an attempt to share this profound part of my spiritual journey.

Before my diagnosis, I trusted God.  I even relied on Him daily for many things.  I prayed over my writing and I prayed over my cooking and if something turned out well I knew it was because it had been blessed by Him.

Sometimes I offered thanks for my health, but I never really asked God or credited Him for my strength to get out of bed in the morning.  Thousands of mornings I woke up and rolled out and lived my day thinking that my strength came from the rest I received or the food I ate.  If I even thought about it at all.

Lupus showed me very clearly I actually have no control over anything.  If I am to get out of bed, it is God who will provide that strength.  If I am to have energy, it will come from Him.  (And that isn't just me -- it's the same for all of us.  I just never realized how true that is until now.)

He will be responsible for my healing, too.  Not in a refuse-all-types-of-medical-intervention kind of way.  But the success I have found with my herbalist is only because God led me to him and He blesses that treatment.  And my future good days are gifts from Him.  However it is that I am finally cured of this, it will be all to His credit.

Which begs the question: Why doesn't He just heal me now?  Why didn't He just protect me from lupus to begin with?

My answer is I don't know.  (I also don't know why He chose to deliver me from poverty and from abuse and from a great number of other things.  And I don't know why He has protected me from accidents and cancer and pain of all kinds.)

But while I have lupus, He is working things out for good.  I hope that is as obvious to everyone around me as it has been to me.  That is not a blase, glossed-over answer.  I can say that God is good ALL the time with confidence.  Mine is not a weak or a blind faith.  It has been tested and tried.  I have wrestled with God.  I have tried other ways.  I do not always know and I do not always understand, but I can see clearly that His ways truly are higher.  And He is loving beyond words.  He is true perfection.  And if He cannot be trusted then trust cannot even exist.

I am still learning the depths of those heavy truths.  His patience is immeasurable.  (For you, too.)

I was not (and am not) happy to be sick.  Lupus would have been one of the very last diagnoses I would have picked for myself.  God has heard a lot about this from me.  But I have come to realize that we all have burdens and struggles in this life.  The label for one of mine is lupus.  That doesn't make life any harder or any easier for me than for anyone else with their own burdens and struggles.

Though I may feel like one at times, I am not a victim.  I am not undeserving of lupus.  By that I mean I am not some extra special person exempt from any of the hard times faced by all humans in this fallen world.  If anyone should have been exempt it was Jesus.  And He bore it all.  So I am just like all the other people.  Waiting for the Lord to fully redeem us.  (He is and He will.)

And I have felt the Lord walk closely -- hold tightly -- to me every single inch of this journey.  He has given me strength I could never have imagined.  And He has sent me so many sweet blessings along the way.  Poignant gifts to remind me of His steadfast love.

I am not thankful for lupus, but I am thankful that God used it as a tool to draw me closer to Him, closer to my husband, closer to many people in my life.  I am thankful to have been given this new perspective on living.  I imagine I would have continued to waste years of my life if I didn't come to realize how precious time is.

Like the rest of the world, I am a work in progress.  And I am so thankful to serve a Savior who loves me so dearly, who will not let me go.  Who is making me whole in every way and carrying me tenderly through until I am (and He is) finally complete.

Blessed be the Lord who would not give [me] up.
Blessed be the Lord for His unfailing love.
The snare is broken and [I] have escaped.
[My] help is the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the Lord!
-Had it not been the Lord, Leonard Smith, Jr.


This post is the final in a series on how lupus has affected me.

Click on the links below to read more:

Part 1: Introduction, The horrific mystery disease

Part 2: The bad times

Part 3: How lupus made me a better wife

Part 4: A practice of patience

Part 5: More on the pit

Part 6: Exhaustion

Part 7: Saying no

Part 8: Taming fear and anxiety

Part 9: The scapegoat

My diagnosis

My herbalist and the treatment option I am choosing right now

My recent lifestyle changes

To learn more about lupus, you may visit the Lupus Foundation of America.