“So Miriam was kept outside the camp for seven days, and the people waited until she was brought back before they traveled again.”
To be numbered as the chronically ill often can mean a transition into frustration. We can not do what we want, we are ‘trapped’ by a disease we never asked for, and held hostage by our minds and bodies. It seems, from the management of our symptoms, we have little time to do anything else. We once had a job– a career… and our time was occupied by that. We were accustomed to something, anything more than a chronic illness. What do I do now?
I once was a pastor of a small church here in Homer, Alaska. I also taught Gospels for several years at the Alaska Bible Institute. I loved both very much. They defined my identity and gave me purpose. I loved helping people and teaching the Word. I strived to be faithful in the ministry. My wife and two children were very helpful and all of these things led me to think they would always be there.
With the sudden onset of a brain tumor, followed up by a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder (BP), my life exploded. I knew I had to step out of the ministry. I simply could not function. It was a hard thing to leave it behind.
My depression grew more profound with the stillborn death of our third child just 3 days before her delivery, Elizabeth Grace Lowe. Things suddenly ground to a stand still as we tried to process what what has happening to us. I guess I just couldn’t understand and more or less just shut down. I spent months in bed, unable to function. A profound sadness settled on me.
Some people were jewels. Others were mean and uncaring. (I had to learn to take the good with the bad.) I suppose I should have been more forthcoming, but things were so tangled up inside I couldn’t verbalize a thing.
The post-op surgery was an ordeal, as I had to learn many things all over again. A few years later I ended up on disability; I was unable to work, and no one would hire me. My symptoms were so unpredictable, and things were just too erratic. The BP was giving me it’s customary depression, as well as an alternately solid dose of paranoia and fear. On that day my issues fell apart on me. I’ve learned that meds can help but cannot fix the problems.
Sometimes, like Miriam, we are quarantined by the Lord for His purposes. The isolation is worse than the pain. We wonder why this is happening, and we hearing lies about our worthiness or God’s goodness. Our value to others seem to be scuttled by our illness. We often feel cursed, forgotten, crippled by God or even worse. (Maybe even irrevocably lost.) Satan has his day to snare unsteady souls at the altar. (I just shivered when I re-read the proceeding sentence.)
I admit I have been slow to learn this– God brings good things out of the dark. I’m embarrassed by my personal lack of acquiring this truth. Now that I’ve learned this I want His words to reflect the truth.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
2 Corinthians 4:7
This light will shine. The treasure is found in clay vessels. Brokenness only means the treasure is now seen clearly. It’s important to note–Treasure loses none of its value by being surrounded by broken clay. Our weaknesses are being turned into goodness and love for our brothers and sisters.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Troubles of many different varieties come to us. No matter what their nature, God holds his people in place while everything else is falling apart. But there is no magic wand; the pain will probably continue. But for the broken believer, there comes another dimension; a new supernatural layer of grace to bolster our beleaguered faith. We will triumph through this thing. Our new found understanding restores us to the Lord. The tragedies we’ve had to endure only supplement our hungry faith.
We will stand– because He makes us stand.