Every fall morning, I tend to wake up barely able to get out of bed. Most days my arms and legs are in so much pain that I don’t want to move.
I have so much to get done, but the fatigue is getting to me and I feel like I have to get through pain so I can be there for my husband and children.
Before I found out I had an autoimmune disease, I was always on the go trying to make sure our family was provided for, and then it happened.
When I got the diagnosis, I was still in shock because I had been tested before and I was told I did not have this condition, but when they told me I had it, I was in denial. I continued pushing myself more and more to show myself I could still move and do just like I always had.
Until one day, my body just screamed for mercy and let me know either I began to listen to it or else. I was so mad because I did not want to stop. When I stop moving, I had to begin looking at the issues within myself, and I did not want to see how frightened and fearful I was, or how much I needed to grow in faith.
While I may be suffering, this time of being still is helping me to truly know who God is and how He is the One in control. As I suffer, joy shines through because I have hope for tomorrow knowing God is with me as I go through my struggles. I don’t have to go through this pain alone. He has placed people in my life who are willing to help me on this journey, and I am so grateful for my husband who sticks by me in the midst of my pain no matter how much I try to push him away. God gives us exactly what we need when we need it if we will trust Him.
While I am unsure of my future, God gives me hope because His Word tells me He knows the plans He has for me, and I believe they are great plans! Yes, I have struggled with questions like “Why God? Why must I get to the point of so much pain and not have enough money to pay our bills? I know I am Your child, so why am I going through all of this? Why won’t You answer my prayers? Will this ever end?”
I had been feeling hopeless and while I did not want to complain, deep down inside, I have been complaining. God seemed silent. Yet He was moving.
I have been seeking for joy to show up in the midst of my struggles. I have been dancing and singing, but I felt like something was still missing. I began to seek for answers on how to have joy in pain and discovered hardship, not happiness, is the forerunner of joy. What? You mean to tell me it’s not happiness that brings about joy but the hardship that we go through?!?
Some of my favorite verses tells it all as James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)
I took my focus off of God as I was focusing on my pain. It happens at times but don’t stay there. If I want to experience joy, I must embrace hope. If hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12), then hope is the key to making the heart whole. When I focus my eyes on God instead of my circumstances, He becomes my refuge in the storm. I have hope because I have God. I may not be able to control my circumstances, but God can!
Joy, like all fruit of the Spirit, grows in the fertile soil of suffering. When I encounter problems and trials, God uses them to produce faith, perseverance, strength, and character within me (Romans 5:3-4). I can joyfully embrace hardship because it’s an opportunity for the fruit of the Spirit to grow in my life. Now, I can dance and sing knowing God is growing me to greater heights while I am suffering.
Despite my pain, I am all smiles and I am choosing to serve like never before. I plan to enjoy every moment I have left on this earth as I serve others instead of focusing on my pain. I am grateful for the blessings I am enjoying. I am grateful for seeing life in a new perspective. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
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