What an awesome message. I was thinking about the sane...what does God want me to learn from this trial? Mostly, to be patient and learn to depend on Him more. Also, just like you say.... so can do without material things. I had to get rid of everything..and I do mean everything. I look ast it like this - If we don't lose everything, then how can God restore us?? At the end of the day, those things mean nothing. May God bless and heal you! We can rebuild with God's help.
Thanks for sharing what your journey has taught you thus far. I see in your words several things that make me smile, especially knowing how difficult and challenging your journey has been.
You have been at this for a while now, and you have made your share of mistakes, but you have never given up. You have come and gone, and come back again at least a couple of times. Interestingly, your searching and seeking have always led you back here.
Such dedicated grappling with God always results in two invaluable gifts:
1. Humility - We learn to see ourselves through God's eyes, with strengths and incredible potential given for His glory alone, and with weaknesses that are embraced because they keep us ever dependent upon Him.
2. Great Faith - One cannot wrestle with God without coming away from the experience trusting fully in His amazing love and faithfulness.
When Jacob (from whose sons the 12 tribes of Israel were formed) wrestled with the Angel of God, his name was changed forever from Jacob (which means "deceiver" or "supplanter") to Israel (which means "One who struggled with God"). He won the struggle with the angel and he demanded and received a blessing, but he was left with a limp from a dislocated hip, a powerful reminder of the reality that this world and all that is worshiped in it is passing away.
As Solomon pointed out, seeking after the fleeting approval of man is vanity, and a giant waste of our valuable resources. So here you are, fully awake and fully engaged. No telling what He will do with you now. I for one can't wait to see!
Are There Lessons in My Suffering? - My 4 Questions
This week I began a very introspective study and reading the Word like I often do in these crazy symptom filled times of pain and frustration. In this self-study I was asked 4 odd questions, and I decided to answer them as honestly as I could. What I found there has been astonishing, eye opening and perspective changing in hopefully a permanent way. As usual, with my "revelations" I decided to share them here and to hopefully someday maybe benefit someone else.
Here are the questions (I dare anyone to ask them to yourself and share them with me) :P
1) How does this situation I'm in help me to understand more about Christ?
2) How can/ could God be using this situation to produce fruit in me?
3) What character qualities can God develop in me through this situation?
4) Is this situation/(how could this be) God's loving discipline to correct me or to change me to the right path?
Then I meditated each day, in prayer, in reflection, in the Word.. to try to find a possible answer because I fought these questions initially. This is what was shown to me.
1) In what freaking possible way could this absolutely terrible situation be helping me to understand more about Christ?! What do I even really know about Christ?! Romans 8:22, 1 Peter 2:19, Isaiah 53:4, Galatians 4:19, 1 Peter 4:12, Romans 8:18
Christ was obedient to the Father even to death on the cross. He was given by the Father as a sacrifice for sins he did not commit. He too could have said as I often do to the Father "hey, this isn't fair" "why is this happening to ME?" "If you loved me why aren’t you keeping me from this pain/suffering?" He too cried out to the Father day and night as I do, Christ too was in constant prayer as I am, He was the Son of God and YET, yet he too was made to suffer tremendously for my/our many sins. Comparing my suffering to his suffering still there is no match. He knew who he was to the Father, he had confidence in his son ship and trusted in the Father. In suffering, he gave glory to the Father and still thanked and praised Him. This is what is also desired I believe of me. The suffering that Christ endured, I am getting a smaller taste of: extreme physical pain, being ridiculed, feeling sad and depressed often, feeling alone, being mocked, being misunderstood, and more.
Looking at it that way, I could, see this as a trial by affliction, my fulfillment into son ship of the kingdom. I could see it as a loving correction or discipline of learning and refinement from the Father. I could use Christs’ example resisting sin and temptation by the enemy, even unto the shedding of his blood. I could cling to the Father as Christ did, in his desperate hours of suffering, fear and pain; instead of getting so mad at Him. Christ trusted in the Father to his death. It’s not like he was down and that’s what he wanted, it’s what he did not want! He pretty much said “I don’t want to do this, I REALLY don't want to do this, but, your will over mine”. "Your will be done Father". Christ then offered peace and joy knowing what was ahead. Promising us/ME, his believers, that this "must happen for all prophecy to be fulfilled" and to "be glad" as he has "overcome even death" and that He is the way to everlasting life. For peace to be with me/us (not doubt, not anger, not confusion) because he is risen. Luke 24:36-43. Christ didn't mourn his flesh body as much as I mourn my old body and old food. He seemed to know and believe that better was ahead.
2) How I think God could possibly be using this to produce fruit in me maybe by using this situation/illness is to teach me self-control (a fruit of the spirit), to teach me patience (a fruit of the spirit), to learn what it means to truly trust in Him when everything is really falling apart and no end is in sight, to learn to submit to Him/His will, to believe in the promises, to learn how to have strength IN the trial, to learn to have more faith in Him and in myself, to be able to discern, decipher, and withstand the darts/lies that the enemy tells me, to learn to draw closer to Him, to see that I must stop trying to do everything on my own strength /my own way, to learn to cling to his Word, to help me to conquer my feelings of worthlessness, and to see his love for me during this illness. The “situation” for me is: my illness, the poverty that we have suffered because of it, insane food restrictions, not being able to support myself, feeling worthless, alone, afraid, angry because of this illness, the depression and mood swings that chronic illness causes and intense mourning. Constant state of mourning. The loss of my body, the loss of my home/my things, the loss of my dreams, the loss of my previous freedoms with food, the loss of my income, the loss of and separation from others.
3) As angry as I am at this situation, I believe one of the character qualities I see God developing is patience, as well as faith - believing in the trial. Though I wish this could have been done another way - I too, humbly submit to His will. I see that everything related to chronic illness requires freaking patience. I'm not sure what other character qualities as of yet - I don’t like my new PTSD qualities and my frustrations with others. I don’t like my irritability or fits of anger.
I must have patience. An increase somehow in patience. Patience and trust in God, patience with my bf who does his best and patience with the world - slow to have tests and a cure and solid understanding and even belief in the existence of this illness I have. I must have patience waiting for the meds to work, trying different methods to see what will kill these things, to continue to try when its hopeless and patience with myself when I fail at perfectly doing this journey (as if that was possible). I must have patience as I am constantly misjudged, misunderstood, lied about, have my health concerns invalidated, called names, as I am questioned for my choices, and as I am the entire time suffering greatly physically - but silently. This illness is inside me and affects all parts of my body, but stealthy where no one can "see" I’m sick.
I must strive for more patience as I constantly must forgo food I love and miss and desire and watch others eat, as I feel left out, as I miss out on events of friends/family, miss out on things I really want to do, and what I want to be is not who I am now or yet even physically possible. I must be patient as I watch my body deteriorate, my previous abilities wane, and my semblance of my previous life set out to pretty much die a cold hard death.
I must have patience as I attempt to rebuild another life in THIS new sick body - rebuild what I can as much as I can to health and patience to learn to let go of any expectations of wellness or thinking too much of unknown things. I must have patience as I try to remain positive with every set back, relapse in health and increasing and worsening symptoms. I must remain patient constantly looking for the thread of hope in the day. Though I definitely don’t like it, or even understand - I bow to His Sovereignty as I learn patience (and who knows what else?) in this pain and suffering.
4) Is this situation God's discipline or a correcting of my path? Pain -1 Pet. 4:12-13, Hebrews 5:7-8, Romans 8:22, Job 30:17, 33:19, Lamentations 3:19, Isaiah 53:3-4, Psalm 38:3, Psalm 12:5, Prov. 20:30
How could this situation possibly be a loving discipline/teaching? I think this situation could be a teaching on how to have compassion for future others I may meet, how to go to God, how to be strong, how to be gentle (through watching bf's caring, self-sacrifice and kindness), how to be consistent, how to have self-control, how to pray in earnest, how to be selfless while practicing self care, how to practice faith actively when there is no reason to try or evidence of "results" to cling to, how to be forgiving of others who insult me, lie about me, call me names, misunderstand me / my situation, don't believe me, misjudge me and mistreat me, how to trust Him. What it means to choose to believe. To choose to have faith. To choose to see the blessing.
How could this situation be His correction of my path? Prov 15:5, Job 5:17, 33:19, Prov 29:!9, Deut. 8:5, 2 Tim 2:25, 2 Tim 3:16
Well, what path was I on? Where was I? I started answering this with lists. I love lists. If I had not fallen ill... I would be:
I would still be working in the stressful Finance industry in Bev Hills by now making a bit more “comfortable” $60k. SO and I were spending a lot of time apart, he at Sketchers’, me at work and school, music practice and at that time we rarely ever made time for each other. I often felt uncared for, and unloved and we weren’t talking so it’s very likely my temptation at work might have grown stronger, and I might have been tempted by lusting after my coworker and left SO for an unbeliever. I might have been so focused on school, music and success that I'd stubbornly have “forged ahead” rebelliously without thinking of God. I might have gotten successful strides in music and fallen away to the cares and riches of this world. I might have fallen victim to a false teaching at my or another church. I could have fallen into sin with an unbeliever, later gotten sad about falling away and committed suicide. I might have spent my money foolishly or become a false Christian. Attending church (or not) engaging in ministry, singing "worship songs" but have/made no real time to spend with God or learning and applying his Word or speaking to others about how knowing Him has caused amazing changes in my life and helping or caring for others.
I would have likely also had my bodybuilding as an idol - instead of prayer and being in the Word, I was much stronger than I am now, working out often and so exercise research, measurements and progress photos would have replaced my time with Him. I probably would have definitely been more preoccupied with food macros and perfect quantities, instead of fellow-shipping with believers and service to Him. I could have likely continued to be abused by my boss and manager rationalizing as I used to that "I'm on my hustle to get this music out there/can't stop the grind til I’m where I want to be / I can sleep when I’m dead" continuing solely "just doing it for the money, then I'm out!” Dangerously further reinforcing my false early childhood beliefs of what I am worth, where my security comes from and what I "need" to be "happy".
If I hadn’t fallen ill, I know that I would have still falsely believed that I needed my clothes, my bed, a dresser, family, my large walk in closet, a nice car, nice furniture, accessible parking, bags of accessories and makeup, a kitchen, friends, a comfortable large apartment, 100's of pairs of shoes, belts and purses, shampoo and moisturizers, hair dyes, CD’s, DVD’s, pictures, and many more objects that I've lost and realized I don't actually NEED anything - I desired them.
If I hadn’t fallen ill, I would not have ever learned that when Jesus says "don’t worry about your clothes or what you will eat", that "the Father will provide" he means exactly that. I always heard it, but I would not have learned how true that actually is! If I had not gotten ill, I would still think that I need to look good all the time, be sexy, measure up to be loved, that how it looks are most important, that music industry idolatry and celebrity status is desirable to achieve, I would have continued to think/believe falsely without question (as I am questioning now) that I needed to be accepted, respected and loved by the world and that without the security of money - there is nothing else left really.
If I had not gotten sick, I likely never would have questioned my songs or whether my desired "godly message" was even correct/or biblical. Being well and healthy, I most definitely would have continued to strive for and trying for success and with every failure or let down inwardly, never showing it, I would have felt worse about myself and possibly even lost my view of my salvation.
I might have become more tolerant over time of sinful songs at my job (we were listening 8 hours a day/5 days a week) and began singing them or also began a low grade alcohol addiction by attending our many co-worker bonding "happy hours" which often turned to drunken debauchery, selfies and attention seeking.
It's highly likely that the more money I made, differing environments and my connections with wealthier people it might have eventually somewhat influenced me to spend in the wrong way or see others differently. I might have become a miser with my large amounts of money, hoarding it all for "the rainy day" and not sharing it, eating lavishly and growing in disdain over time and possibly having less compassion for those less fortunate than me.
Without a doubt, if I had not gotten ill, I DEFINITELY would have finished my damned last class left to my Associates degree and then on to my Bachelor's degree! I likely would have taken a Philosophy class which could have served to make me question God's existence and truths and trade my truth/experience with the Almighty for questions and assumptions in the face of new “information”/worldly ”wisdom”. I would have likely moved closer to my school Pepperdine or San Diego, and left my best friends I’ve ever known behind. I would have constantly been meeting new people and still had a laser like focus on getting A's no matter what, keeping my 4.0 and being perfect. Studying constantly, overworking myself, and driving forward ruthlessly toward a perceived "success" which was constantly shapeshifting.
If I had not gotten ill, and very likely influenced daily by being in school with people younger than me, I would likely have started getting depressed/worried about my "aging" and started striving for relevance and chasing youth/beauty; instead of godliness and humility. I might have also continued comparing myself to other women/people and began chasing more material possessions instead of keeping my eyes focused and fixed on the perfecter of my faith - who said" do not worry about your life, your heavenly Father knows what you need before you even ask Him. Seek FIRST the kingdom."
These are just some of my "paths" I could have been on (knowing myself, my goals at the time and the way I used to think) had my path, my whole LIFE really, NOT come to a COMPLETE HALT and changed direction by getting this illness.
How about you?