“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 one of chronically ill often can mean awful frustration. We can’t do what we want, we are ‘trapped’ by a disease we never asked for, and we’re held hostage by our minds and bodies. We once had a job– a career… and our time was occupied by that. We were accustomed to something, anything more than being very sick.
I once was a pastor of a small church. I also taught Gospels for several years in a local Bible Institute. I loved ministry very much. They defined my identity and gave me purpose. I enjoyed helping people and teaching the Word. I endeavored to be faithful in the ministry.
With the sudden onset of a brain tumor, followed up by a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder (BP), my life more or less 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. (I still miss it).
My depression grew even more profound with the stillborn death of our third child just 3 days before her delivery, Things suddenly ground to a stand still as my wife and I tried to process all of this. I guess I just couldn’t understand and more or less just shut down. I was angry at God. I spent months in bed, unable to function. A profound sadness settled on me.
Some people were true jewels. Others were mean and uncaring. (I had to learn to take the good with the bad.) I suppose I should have understood, but things were so tangled up inside me that I couldn’t verbalize a thing.
The post-op surgery following the tumor 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 my symptoms were so unpredictable. The BP was giving me it’s customary depression, and a solid dose of paranoia and fear. I learned that meds can help, but they can’t fix the problem.
Sometimes, like Miriam, we are quarantined by the Lord for His purposes. The isolation seems worse than the pain. We wonder why this is happening, and we hear lies about our worthiness or God’s goodness. Our value to others seem to be scuttled by our illness. We can feel cursed, forgotten, crippled by God or even worse. (Maybe even irrevocably lost.) Satan often snares unsteady souls.
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 all of this. Now I’m starting to learn finally, and I want His words to reflect these truths.
“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, understanding and love for our brothers and sisters.
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 for the broken believer, there is another dimension; we will indeed triumph. The tragedies we’ve had to endure only supplement our faith. We will stand– because He makes us stand.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
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