I hope you don’t mind some particularly personal words this week, if only to let me process a few things.
It seems like I have been ill more in the past twelve months than I have in all my previous life put together. I was rolling along just fine last June when I ended up in the ER on my anniversary with diverticulitis. Two days later I found out I had prostate cancer to boot. The summer of 2018 was a rough one, recovering from one disease so I could have surgery for another, then the difficult process of healing from that one too.
But all in all, I came through last summer and fall okay, and very grateful for God’s faithfulness through the process. To be honest, I didn’t learn any great spiritual lessons through my sickness–which was a little disappointing–but I did come out the other side with little more than a few scars, a couple of leftover side effects, and a lot of gratitude.
The new year began wonderfully for me, with the Lord doing such a fresh work in my life, taking me “deeper” and bringing more healing in me in the process, this time not on the physical level. By His grace, He has drawn me to Himself and taken me to the next level in my love for Him and His word, and once again, the thing that has stood out for me has been an overwhelming since of gratitude.
Which brings me to last week. I woke up with the same kind of symptoms that I had on my anniversary last year, just not as bad, and because there have been some stomach viruses going around, I just assumed that may have been the culprit. I was pretty sick, but went anyway to my quarterly follow-up with my urologist on Friday, where I found out, by the way, that I am still cancer free! While I was there I mentioned that I was feeling bad, with some hints of diverticulitis again, and he sent me for a CT scan. And the radiologist confirmed our suspicions, that it was indeed back.
I went ahead and preached on Sunday, which probably wasn’t a wise move for me or for those who had to endure listening to the sermon. And the days since have been rough. Not only have I struggled physically, eventually it really started to get the best of me mentally and emotionally. I have gotten depressed and frustrated and restless. I don’t know another way of saying it, but I’m just sick of being sick.
And then I got some words of encouragement from a friend, and it was just what the doctor ordered. I was reminded of the pastoral advice I have given several folks in our congregation over the past few years who have gone through tough times with illness; that God is still on the throne, that He is allowing me to walk this road for a reason, and that He probably wants to get my attention. I was reminded of the good work He has been doing in me this year, and told not to ignore this as part of that process. And I was reminded that we have a wonderful body of believers at Shelby Crossings who can “hold my arms up” like Aaron and Hur did Moses and that it’s okay to lean on my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Good words, all. God is at work, even in the midst of sickness and discouragement. His power is perfected in my weakness, and His sufficient grace shines through my insufficiencies. He has a plan, and it might not be for my comfort, but it always has to do with my being conformed to the image of Christ. He is in control, He is good, and He can be trusted.
And let’s face it, there’s enough whining in the world today, and there’s no use me adding my complaints to the chorus of the belly-achers–even if my belly aches. I will be grateful, knowing that He who has begun a good work in me will continue to complete it. I don’t like being sick–not one bit–but sometimes you have to get laid up to look up.
One last thing. There have been several “theme” verses the Lord has been grounding me in in 2019, but none more so than Psalm 62:1-2: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress; I will not be shaken.”
So, I think I’ll get some rest, in Him, for my body, and for my soul. And if you happen to face some hard times, don’t miss the opportunity to look up. Thanks for your prayers for me. I hope to see you Sunday.