This is the third attempt to write this, it’s proved challenging to set the tone right. Hopefully this time succeeds because this feels important to say.
Know that the goal of this is not to gain pity or to have people treat me like somehow I am going to shatter at any moment, that isn’t the case at all. My hope is to direct the attention to what God is teaching me in the hope that it will encourage someone or help them to gain perspective that my experiences are giving me at the moment.
A good place to start is a piece of Scripture that becomes more and more dear to me every year.
"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my hear may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
That first line in verse 26 about flesh failing has been made literal in my life, and with that comes the temptation to let my heart (my thoughts and emotions) fail along with it. There is a large handful of people that have been faithful to pray for me in the last years that know all of the details and likely would be the ones reading this, so for the sake of brevity I’ll summarize the “failing flesh” as a particular brand of migraine that perfectly mimics a stroke. The major distinctions are the consistent relatively brief time that the episodes last and the lack of long-term effects that would generally accompany a stroke. They are caused by different things as well, but I won’t go into that.
I recently had another one of those which was the first to happen in about a year. The timing and circumstances of this one were particularly scary, but something had changed this time around. I was highly debilitated but there was a peace in my heart that can honestly only come from how the Lord has worked in my heart within that last year.
This is where the second parts of each of those verses come in to play.
The temptation to pine after perfect health is very real. It was a transition to realize that health is an earthly thing even though it isn’t strictly tangible - I know that in my mind health didn’t click into one of the possible things to long for within this context right away. But just as riches, success, reputation, and all other things that the world chases, health can also be put into those same positions. We’re called to be good stewards of our bodies so I am not advocating complacency, but rather not seeing wellness as an end-all to our joy. Health can become a god if, in our attempt to be healthier, we lose contentment with what God has given us. This is a choice, just as our attitude in any situation of life is. I have seen the Lord provide amounts of healing for what I deal with, that year free of major episodes is still a massive answer to prayer, but I also know that He is good even on the days that I am in pain or don’t have a ton of energy. My joy comes from the cross, not the state of my health, and I am so incredibly thankful to the Lord for the work that He did through His Son to make that joy possible no matter what else comes.
The end of verse 26 talks about God being the strength of the heart. These two verses have been my favorite since long before I had these health trials, but that particular part has become so much more meaningful in recent years. I’m not sure that I understood my weakness fully until I was forced to surrender to it. A constant fight in my life is killing the pride of wanting to take care of things myself, it’s like I have to prove that I’m strong enough even though no one is asking me to do that. The worst episodes are still very rare occurrences, but when they do come they hit without solid warning and force me to rely on whoever is around to help me. The latter part is doubly humbling because I occasionally can’t speak properly so it becomes very difficult to communicate just what is going on when typically I don’t have any trouble finding the right words to explain something. The help is always provided though, the Lord always places someone in a position to take care of me even when I am utterly useless.
By extension, the very fact that this can happen without warning has made me reliant on God’s strength for every day. I don’t say that to freak anyone out, the truth is that God blesses me with so many good days. Even the slightly difficult days are manageable. But that proves the point, it is the Lord orchestrating my life and bringing comfort to my mind that would not exist apart from Him. He is quite literally the strength of my heart and He has proved to be my portion when changes have had to come and things have had to be subtracted from my life as a step of faith without knowing what the outcome would be.
My intent in writing all of this is to share some of the hope that God has placed in my heart though this season of my own life. Things get crazy, your struggles may look exactly like mine or they may look wildly different. The unifying element is that no matter the situation God is in control and is faithful to mature us, especially in the most unpredictable circumstances.
I sit in the front row of my History class.
This row of tables mysteriously moves closer to the wall in front of it every week.
At the current rate I will only be able to see the wall in about three weeks. A rotation of 90 degrees will be necessary at this point to see the teacher. Visibility of the power point projection will be 0.