I am going on Thursday for an MRI. The neurologist wants to rule out Multiple Sclerosis and possible other brain issues, as I continue to struggle with horrible migraine headaches and weird other symptoms. When your doctor sends you for a major test to rule out horrible diseases, it does very unfriendly things to your thinking. I have been up and down, riding waves of emotion and dealing almost constantly with thoughts of my own mortality.
I know everyone eventually dies. But it's different when you think it might be coming any day, maybe any minute. Or that you will be diagnosed with something that will rob you of your quality of life, or shorten your time with your precious children. And that’s what gets me the most…just wanting to see them through to adulthood, and know they are okay. That’s what breaks me up, not the idea of going to see Jesus myself, although I admit I'm most definitely not ready. But the idea of leaving my children motherless? No, no, no. Not right.
Yet God is working in me. I am coming to a place, if not of peace, than of acceptance of the test results. I'm hearing God’s instructions for how to think, behave, and be if I get the worst imaginable news. And I'm trying to accept whatever cup He gives me to drink. And I am working toward acceptance of His will for every member of my family, including my boys.
No, I don’t believe every horrible thing in the world is of God. But this, if it ends with my early demise, I feel like this will be His will working. Would I fight a disease with every ounce of energy I have? Yes, I promise you I am a hell of a fighter. Would I also strive like crazy to make God’s will my own? Yes, that too.
Now…to conquer the worry. The worry that eats at my brain and stomach and makes me a cranky, irritable mess. The worry that has me not listening to my boys and snapping at my husband and ignoring calls and emails from my friends. The worry that I might die. The worry over the money the MRI is costing us. The worry over my ongoing headaches in the meantime. More of the same: I have always worried. So God is showing me again, in His infinite patience with me, to pray continually and “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5. Because if all my thoughts are obedient to Christ, there will be no worry. There will be peace, come what may. And for now, I've gotten there. The prayer, the meditation on Christ, the focus on His word. The worry has disappeared, just for this little moment.
This is the refining fire going on in me right now: for the first time in my life, I am praising God in the storm. In, not after. And for this one little moment, I get it. And man, it’s beautiful.
I am not sharing this to brag on myself. In fact I am more than a little ashamed that it’s taken me this long to "get it." I am sharing it for one reason only: God has been repeatedly laying it on my heart to put this private journal entry out there for the world. Maybe you are living through something painful? Guess what? God wants to meet you there, right there in the middle of your pain, and give you peace.
UPDATE and confession: I wrote this journal entry two weeks ago, and found out last Tuesday that my brain is normal (my husband somewhat disagrees). Hallelujah! My brain has some “white spots” from prior migraines but is otherwise healthy. I waited to post this until I could share the results; I wanted to spare you the suspense. In the meantime, I found this from John Eldredge, who sums up living through a painful experience this way:
“On a soul level, when I love God in this place, it opens my heart and soul back up to him right where I need him most, right in the center of the pain. Too often what we cry out for is understanding - "why, God?" But I've learned over the years that when you are in the midst of the suffering, you don't often get understanding, and frankly, you don't need understanding - you need God.”
~John Eldredge, via his blogAmen.