This is a post that I do not want to write, but feel that I must. Not out of obligation, but out of obedience. This week I am staring at three and a half years of suffering with an affliction. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be here. But alas, I am. Through all this time I have remained steadfast in confidence knowing that God has not abandoned me, nor has He pushed a special zap button for me because I am a naughty girl. I have held onto His promises and tried so hard to believe and not doubt. Which, by the way, is very hard when one is suffering – just ask anyone who is suffering. However, one thing that has been elusive for me is true joy in this affliction. I mean true joy – happy that I am suffering and sharing in the sufferings of Christ. The happy sort of feeling that says, “Don’t pray this away, I want to suffer so I can share with Jesus.” I am being very honest here. I don’t want to suffer. I DO NOT LIKE PAIN. Can I make it any clearer?? I have not always been the happy camper with this injury. I have cried, sobbed, escaped, been frustrated, lonely, hard to live with and just plain grumpy. Just call it, the Seven Dwarfs of Emotions. But lately it seems as if God is calling me higher. He is calling me aside to something even far greater. Oh, how come it has to be this way? The way of the cross is the path of suffering.
“And anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:38
Since I am being honest here, I did not want to type this verse. Know why? The phrase “not worthy of Me.” I was going for the other verse about taking up the cross and following Jesus (Mark 8:34) Both verses are very good and to the point, but it’s the part about ‘being worthy’ that stuck in my throat. Tears are in my eyes as I write this because it is the truth of what being called aside means. God is calling me to joyfully endure this affliction because it is the cross made for me. I did not fashion it, I did not go shopping for it, and I have not even decorated this cross. Yet, it is mine all the same.
So, how in the world did I get to this point today? Well, a conversation around the dinner table last night. I had a little episode at the ER last week and I was following up with my doctor who has been with me through this journey. He is retiring so I thanked him for being so helpful and caring these past 3 years. He has been compassionate and is regretful that he was not able to pinpoint my problem. He has always wanted me to do medication for pain management and I have always said no. It’s a little game we play. And yesterday was no different. He suggested a drug yesterday that could help with depression as well as pain. I looked at him surprised. Me depressed?? He cocked his eye at me in surprise that I am not. I told him that I am not lying around in my bed, nor sleeping all day long nor withdrawing from life. He really does not believe me. I told him that I am fully engaged in my family life and enjoy doing things together with them. We go places, do things and plan on doing lots more. I shared that I do use a wheelchair when we go on long hikes, or do Disneyland, but that is because I really can’t do the distance. He still thinks I am faking it. So, that got me to thinking, which led to the conversation at the table. One of my family members said that I am not the happy bubbly person I used to be. Uh-oh. That got my attention. Then another said that I am doing pretty good considering I am in pain so much, who wouldn’t be not so bubbly? Better, but not great.
I know O YAHWEH, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Psalm 119:75
We had just read this verse right before we had dinner. It was confirmation that I needed to ask the tough question. “Am I joyful, happy right now?” I have had a lot to think about in the last 12 hours and I feel that I have come up short. I am not living in condemnation, just stating facts. “Facts is facts.” My daughter and I are reading A Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli and I read this this morning – “Crosses or crutches as thou’lt have it. ‘Tis all the same thing. Remember, even thy crutches can be a door in the wall.” Meaning, a new opportunity. Ok. Truce. I give up. I hear You Lord loud and clear. I confess that I have not been joyful nor happy with this garment that You designed for me. Rather, I have despised it, run from it, and tried to short-circuit the fit for me. I GIVE UP. I will stop running, I will wear it honorably. I will count it all joy (James !:2). I want to be counted worthy of this cross that I carry for Jesus. He has considered me and He has a plan that is best to give Him the most glory. And I want that. I want what will give Him the most glory. I don’t want to be prideful and say that this road of suffering is too low for me, rather it is here that God gets the most glory. I fully surrender to the cross. I humbly and joyfully extend my arms to receive what You have for me Father. I want to be happy (think Matthew 5:1-13, where ‘blessed’ means happy). I want what You want. Now and forever.