How Great is Our God in HEBREW,

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Reprieve? Or a Healing?

For the past four years I've been grounded by pain.  I've had five joint replacement surgeries....and daily I am awakened by pain during the night..not once but many times.  I have been unable to walk in a store like Walmart or Lowes and have to use a scooter.  Depending on my pain level any given day I will either use  a rollator walker, Canadian crutches or a cane. I can not tolerate standing even long enough to do the dishes.  I have to rest in the  middle because of the blinding pain in my sacrum. I had to give up pain meds and driving don't mix and also I could not turn my head to the side and had narrowly missed driving right into cars who were alongside me as I attempted to change lanes.  Not driving has changed my life.  And not for the better.

Every morning I'm stiff.  I get to my recliner and rub my hands and neck and knees.  I would rub my ankles but can't reach them due to my artificial hip joints being tight..  It takes me several hours before I am able to start my day.  Fortunately pain wakes me early so I have plenty of time to get my body going before anyone else is awake.

I also am "grounded" by severe asthma.  Just walking across a room causes breathlessness to the point where I cannot talk.

But recently a lot of this has changed.  I've been on steroids and Arava. (a DMARD). Steroids always do wonderful things with my pain.  When I'm in  the hospital on IV steroids, my pain dissipates. I do not know if it's the steroids or the ARAVA that is helping me...but I'm pretty sure it's the steroids because initially I didn't want to be on steroids and I took myself off.  The pain returned like gangbusters.  When my rheumatologist saw my hands I thought he was going to cry.  He insisted that I take them.

So I did.
And now I find myself playing an altogether different ballgame.
I'm sleeping better.  It is true that my ankles are in very bad shape and they still hurt like heck as does my neck.  But my hands, my shoulders and elbows are markedly better. They still put up a fuss for a few hours here and there....but still overall it's nothing like what it was.  And the steroids are doing wonders for the asthma....Today I rode my recumbent bike for 15 minutes and still had the strength afterward to do a five minute core strengthening video..  I got the recliner I was using at church brought home because the one I had here previously was broken (and completely uncomfortable). So now there is no recliner for me in the church.  I think I will try a normal chair on Sunday and see if I can sit through a service without crying in pain.

All of these changes, whether or not they are temporary, leave me trying to assess what it is that I'm capable of doing.  Dare I go to Walmart and not use a scooter?  What would happen?  Should I try to clean my house?  Could I???  Fatigue is still an issue so no matter what  I do I won't be able to do it for too long.  When you have defined yourself (or rather your limitations have defined you) in terms of pain and exhaustion, having only a handful of spoons....and running out of them way before  the day ended---it is very hard to change gears and to suddenly find that you can do more than you could before.  It's all an unknown.  And it is causing quite an identity crisis.  And I know that it will throw a huge monkey wrench in to the way people at church view me.  They will either think I was faking before or they will think that God has miraculously and permanently healed me.  If I tell them that this improvement is only temporary...that my joints are still disintegrating....that it's just the inflammation that is being reduced by the steroids.   They will  wag their heads and cluck their tongues saying "oh ye of little faith."

Do I have faith?  I certainly have hope.  I HOPE that the pain won't return.  I HOPE that I won't need work done on my ankles elbows and other shoulder.  I HOPE that the heart issues that come along with RA won't "get me".  I HOPE I do not lose my sight because of the glaucoma I have.

Do I have faith?
To a realist faith doesn't come easily. Faith is Hope's answer. What is faith except that it is believing that which is invisible is real?  There you have it: realism, right smack in the middle of the definition of faith.  If I claim it is NOT real...then I cannot call myself a Christian.  But honestly whether or not I still am going to have to endure horrific pain....That is not a condition my faith must meet, is it?  I have never really felt that it was in God's plan to heal me.  Why? because I've prayed with tears that he would.  I've sat in the center of the whole church as they prayed for me.....and I was not healed.  Now it is true that sometimes (ok -- all the time) God does things in his own way by his own schedule.  We cannot force his hand.   I confess that I am afraid to believe.  I am afraid to proclaim that he is going to or has healed me.  Because what  if that is not his plan?   I have heard it said that it is wrong to pray "if it is your will" because that implies a lack of faith. I disagree with that.  To pray "if it is your will to heal...."gives God room to be God and do things his own way.  Some people say that you have to pray and determine God's plan before you pray it in to being.  Who knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man within him?  Who knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit within him and WITHIN ME?  Does that mean that God is compelled to reveal his plans? I say "Only if he wants to."  There were many things that Jesus did, that left his disciples completely in the dark.  He did not explain them and they did not understand them until they were filled wth the Spirit and looked back from their new vantage point...and THEN they understood.

What am I trying to say?
1) God will only reveal his plans if he wants to.
2)  it would greatly help us if we knew the mind of God via his Spirit.
3) we can pray for discernment.
4) If I believed that God is in the process of healing me---and he didn't---I would be crushed.
5) it is an act of self preservation (and possibly a lack of faith) that keeps me from running around cheering and claiming to be healed.
I guess I am like Thomas.  Lord, unless I am off of all medication and put my hands in the holes in your hands I won't believe it.  What did Jesus do?  Did he rebuke Thomas?  No, he gently stretched out his hands and said "See? Touch, Thomas. Go ahead"  What makes Thomas's lack of faith different from Zechariah's (John the Baptist's Father) when the angel announced that he and his elderly barren wife were going to have a son?  Zechariah questioned the angel and was struck dumb for the 9 months of the pregnancy. 

Maybe Jesus knew that Thomas was grief-stricken and exhausted.  Maybe he was on his last drop of gas.  He had lived with Jesus and loved him.  He'd witnessed miracle after miracle....and when he heard that Jesus was again alive, he just didn't have the hope left in him to believe.  He was crushed by the cross.  And Jesus was gentle with him. I think he smiled kindly at Thomas as Thomas fell to his knees exclaiming, "My Lord and my God!!"

I think I am kind of like Thomas.  I'm exhausted from this battle.  I am scared to believe yet again that I am being healed.  If I have  to go by what my spirit is telling me, I would have to tell you that it is not God's will to heal me.  Not until I enter his Kingdom.  And I hate saying that. I would much rather yell "Hallelujah thank you Jesus!" and go out dancing. People call me faithless.  But let me tell you it takes a heck of a lot more faith to face another day of this horrible illness than it does to be healed.  And that is God's honest truth.
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