Living with a traumatic brain injury and chronic pain is not easy. I often find it soothing to express my feelings in poetry, most of which is not fit for anyone else’s consumption. I like this one. It’s a reminder that the Joy of the Lord is my strength. With Him, I can face any difficulty.
Last week I began writing about my struggle to understand why, if all the promises of God were “Yes” in Jesus, did I not see them manifest in my life, and my feelings of failure because of that lack. There did seem to be a law in place as expressed in Exodus 15: 26: “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.” Since I was not healed, I had to have missed a step somewhere.
I do not wish to infer I’ve spent the last seventeen years pursuing healing. At that time, my Heavenly Father revealed Himself to me in a way I had never known. At that moment, I realized everything I had ever thought about Him had been mistaken and that I knew nothing at all. Every day since then has been an opportunity to, in the words of Yoda, unlearn what I have learned. I focused on “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matthew 6: 33, Amplified) Amen. So be it.
Then, three years ago, I re-discovered a bible teacher I listened to as a child. He spoke of the promises of God, especially healing, and said it was so in Jesus and that I should expect! Expect? Expect what? I was seeking Him with my whole heart, what more did I need to do? I couldn’t argue with the scriptures I heard quoted. It did seem there was an aspect to my life in Jesus I was failing to appropriate. How to do so?
There have been moments of intense frustration as I tried to figure it out. There have been moments when I’ve been so angry I’ve cried out to God; “just tell me what you want! Why is this so hard?” It was a deeply confusing time and it was about to get worse.
With my limitations, I only work part-time which means I don’t have a great deal of extra cash. While I was struggling to figure out why I was not experiencing the fullness of the promises of God, I had a minor procedure that still required my going under anesthesia; a process that proved to be rather expensive. A month later, I was rear-ended driving into work which aggravated all my old injuries of that car accident from years ago. I missed work and pay. A month after that I ended up in the ER as yet another health problem came to a head. Major surgery was scheduled that was going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I had insurance (thank God!) but I still had to pay a portion of the cost. Less than a month before my surgery I was in another car accident (not my fault!) where I ended up in the ER AGAIN. More expense. Then came the surgery and recovery, and then yet again another minor surgical procedure. I didn’t have insurance for this cost and had to dig into my savings account.
In the midst of these health/physical struggles, the parameters of my job changed. I couldn’t drive myself anymore but had to take the train to work. This has always been my one point of refusal when accepting a placement: I don’t go downtown because I can’t take the train. It is too hard on me physically and I get terribly dizzy and sick to my stomach: probably complications from my TBI. Now, I had to take the train and I didn’t see any way out. I had taken some financial hits and would be a fool to quit. Then there was the job itself. There was no one else who knew the job the way I did so I didn’t see how I could quit and leave them hanging. Maybe this was it! I began to pray that finally, when I needed Him the most, my Father would heal me so I could do what I needed to do. Trusting He would be my strength, I began to ride the train.
My days ended with indescribable agony. The pain was so bad I couldn’t breathe. Finally, the pain got so bad I had to say “when” to the job. I had reached another crisis point. It was when I had nothing left that my Father came to me, wrapped His arms around me, and opened my eyes.
I saw that, even though He and I had developed a deep, personal relationship, I was still hallowing another’s name above His. What do I mean by that? I mean that a word had been spoken to me and the word sounded good and right. Fulfilling that word seemed to be honoring God and I stepped out in obedience to that word without ever checking it with God and being sure the voice I was listening to was His. I expected Him to give me the strength to do what I believed I needed to do.
Why am I telling you all this?
All of these things were piling on each other, one after another, and I was clinging to Jesus by my fingernails. Why? When everything seemed to be so opposite of what I believed and it didn’t appear He was with me at all; why didn’t I decide I’d been utterly mistaken, there was no God, and I was on my own to figure out this life as best as I could? The answer is because I know Him. He has revealed Himself to me step by step, situation by situation over the years and I KNOW He lives and He loves me. Still, I didn’t quite understand: I expected an answer to healing and He showed me the importance of hearing and obeying no voice but His.