I watched my husband, Ron, endure 12 surgeries in five years. Then I hurt myself taking care of him. Two weeks after our health insurance was cancelled, my doctor called and said, “Your severe pain is caused by a herniated disk. You’ll need surgery.” Soon after that, I had my first panic attack.
I remembered back to the night I became a Christian. The pastor had read his Bible and quoted John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I knew God had not changed and that He still loved me. Yet, because of my pain and our circumstances, I allowed anxiety to became my constant companion. Knowing what you believe is one thing; living like you believe it is another.
During the recent few years of trials, I didn’t feel loved. I’m old enough to know that I’m not supposed to base anything on the way I FEEL, but sometimes I do. Of course, on top of my unstable emotions, my rebellious body chose to enter menopause as if on cue. I had night sweats to go along with my insomnia, hot flashes, mood swings, and growth of facial hair. On my older and wiser sister-in-law’s advice, I traded in my tweezers for a razor.
I was married to a very strong Christian man, who had always made me feel very secure and loved, but he was very sick and the medications made him foggy. For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t have him to lean on. When I talk about the past three-½ years and tell something that happened, Ron doesn’t remember and will ask, “Where was I?” I reply, “It happened while you were sleeping.”
In the past few years, God has shown His love to us thru people—big people and little people. Our children showed up to sit beside the hospital beds and next to the couch. They have shown their love and devotion in so many ways. The grandchildren have constantly piled on top of Ron on the couch to keep him company. Some friends prepared meals for us; others stopped by with a sandwich from the Katella Deli or delivered homemade egg rolls. We received baskets of goodies, anonymous gifts and encouraging cards. Ron had comfy socks for after surgery, endless DVDs to watch, and faithful visitors. For months, others cleaned our house and mowed our lawn. We are amazed and humbled by the amount of love that has been shown to us through our family and friends.
During the Christmas season of 2013, some Christmas carolers knocked at our door. It was a homeschool group of kids and their parents. They sang to us of God’s love and His gift given to us when Jesus was born. Ron and I stood on our porch and cried because God’s love literally showed up on our doorstep.
Jesus loves me this I know – for the Bible tells me so
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
I want to know the future. Actually, I want to control the future. I am a planer. I prepare. I love calendars. I had plans for my life. I started out working on Plan A, aka the perfect life. I soon abandoned that for plan B, that didn’t work out so plan C.
A few years ago when Ron and I were both working full-time, we had read Dave Ramsey’s book on finances and we had done a couple of the steps. We had gotten out of debt and we had emergency saving, but not catastrophe savings. We had a rainy day savings account, but we hadn’t planned on a tsunami of medical bills or Ron being “under the weather” for so long.
My plans kept changing and I don’t really like change. I have trouble being flexible – I don’t even do Yoga! I knew that God was in control of my life, but my attitude was more like “what’s next?” Things certainly weren’t going according to my calendar or plan and at many points I didn’t have much hope. I knew the Bible promised that all things work together for good; yet, I roamed the aisles of Rite-aid looking for something to control the acid that felt like a volcano erupting in my stomach. My future felt uncertain. Knowing what you believe is one thing; living like you believe it is another.
In case you are thinking she’s whiny. I am. I was born with the personality of Eeyore. It’s no secret at my house; my children even bought me my own stuffed Eeyore and pajamas to match. During my recent trials, I fully realized there were many people that had worse problems than me. All I had to do was turn on the news or read a prayer-request list to see what was going on around me, and yet I had trouble letting go of my ideal future.
When Ron went on medical leave back in 2012 we filed for disability that January. For several months, I received letter after letter from the disability company delaying their decision. One day, as I sat on the couch reading the latest letter and worrying aloud. Ron said, “Honey, the Lord has ALWAYS taken care of us.” Even in his medicated state and in excruciating pain he had more hope than me. Our family members and close friends supported us literally and figuratively. As humbling as it was, I went to a ministry for food boxes.
So we waited from January until July. The lady from the disability company called, she said as she was reviewing Ron’s case to send us the DENIAL letter, she noticed they had somehow overlooked some “important medical records.” Based on a review of those records Ron WAS eligible for disability payments. I did a happy dance. The Lord did take care of us. Just not in the way I had planned and not according to my calendar.
My grandma used to say, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.” Sometimes the creek does rise, but we are not to lose hope when our future looks uncertain. Even when life doesn’t go according to plan A, B or even C. Maybe you get to plan D: for disability, disaster, disappointment, disease or discouragement. Christians are not immune to problems. Sometimes life IS hard.
I’ll be honest, when I’m unhappy, I find comfort in Carbs: Vanilla Wafers, banana pudding, chicken potpies, and Pepperoni Pizza. I encourage you not to get discouraged because, if you’re like me, you might gain 30 pounds. I recently went to the doctor’s office. I followed the sweet young nurse to the back. As I got ready to step on the scale, she said “you can take off your shoes if you want.” Really? I thought. I weight over 180 pounds and you think I’m worried about 7 ounces of flip-flops.
We all have times where we are struggling and juggling. If you are, I suggest getting Biblical counseling. I had a few older godly women that I could go to for prayer and advice and I am so thankful that I did. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.
Over the last few years, I have gone through MY plans A, B, C, D, and then E. Plan E stood for exhausted. MY plan F included food, fiascos, failures, flops, and faith-less-ness. Finally, I arrived at Plan G – God’s Plan. In God’s Plan, God is in Control. He WAS always in Control, but my plans had to fail for me to see it.
I’m learning to be more flexible. I still write my plans on a calendar – but now I use a pencil with an eraser – in case they change.
“All things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28)
Three years ago, my life changed drastically when I became a full-time caregiver for my husband. My husband, Ron, had a number of medical conditions, the worst being a deteriorating spine that was unstable. On x-rays it looked like the collapsing columns of the roman coliseum. Though he had been in pain, he kept working for many years, but when his situation became unbearable, he took a medical leave and I became his caregiver.
In high school had it been a category, I would have been voted “least likely to be a caregiver.” Needles make me queasy, I gag at the site of blood, I’m clumsy, and I’m a germaphobe. I’m, also, not warm, gentle, patient or soft-spoken. My husband is the opposite of me. He’s nice. He is, also, warm, gentle, patient and soft-spoken. When our grandchildren ring the doorbell, I answer and they run past me yelling “Grandpa! Grandpa!” Since he’s been sick, he’s even sweeter. Do you know what it’s like to live with a really nice person?
In 2008, I authored an excellent study on Faith. I wrote, “Sometimes problems arise; our family’s finances are upside down, the doctor calls with bad news, or our job security is shaky. Do we trust God or do we toss, turn, and lie awake staring at the ceiling? We need to have faith in God that He will care for us.” Reading thru that old study, I realized that years ago, I thought I was an expert on faith. That was before my finances were uncertain, before the doctor called me with bad news and before my husband lost his job.
During my recent trials, I thought I trusted God, but I still tossed, turned, and lay awake staring at the ceiling. Anxiety and doubt stole my sleep and tried to steal my faith. Knowing what you believe is one thing; living like you believe it is another. Do I believe that God is worthy of my Faith? Yes, I do. Did I live like I trust Him? Not always.
In the Bible, it tells of Peter’s attempt to walk on water towards Jesus. When Peter saw that the wind was boisterous, and the waves were raging, he was afraid and began to sink. Jesus said to Peter “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I became “O you of little faith.” My eyes were on the winds of medical crisis after crisis and I felt the waves of doubt crashing around me. I remember after one doctor’s appoint, Ron and I got into our car. We had just gotten the news that a virus in his eyelids had returned and he would immediately need another surgery. I hit the steering wheel and said “Really?” “Really?” Ron asked, “Are you mad at me?” I said, “No, Honey, I’m just soooooo frustrated.”
During that season, I had a hundred different things swirling around in my mind: Southern California Edison crossed some wires behind our house and the electrical surge ruined many of our appliances—my furnace was fried. Our old car, the artic breeze—so named because it was white and had a fabulous air conditioner–refused to pass the smog-check and went to clunker heaven. And the most heartbreaking crisis of all, our tiny granddaughter ended up in the hospital because of a lump on her arm. The doctors mistakenly thought she had cancer and placed her on the oncology ward. There is a scripture in the Bible that says if you have faith as a mustard seed, you can move a mountain and nothing shall be impossible. I know how small a mustard seed is and at some points I didn’t even have that much faith.
I kept remembering the Bible scripture “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” I knew that verse. I’d heard it a million times. I had taught it. But I wasn’t applying it to my life. I decided to take action. I put a CD player next to the couch where Ron lay recovering from his latest surgery, and we listened to Alistair Begg’s Bible studies. I turned on the radio and we listened to Dr. J. Vernon Magee and other Bible teachers. Thank God for modern technology and streaming video. We could attend three different churches on Sunday morning without leaving our couch. I signed up for the online Daily Bread devotionals and I spent time in God’s Word. Our situation didn’t change quickly, but slowly my faith grew. God was working in my life, even when I couldn’t see it.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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