Rayia is a friend that has the gift of making everything beautiful and glorious. She is a gift to our local Church and I am specially grateful to have her share with us about this trial she has been going through and the faithfulness of God in the midst of it.
Please, dear reader, be encouraged as you read this testimony, to look up to Christ and be reminded that cheerful obedience to a faithful God is always possible for the children of God.
When Becky asked me to write a post for her blog I was humbled and nervous. I am not a writer, the medications I have been on this last year can make it difficult for me to formulate thoughts well and I know there are much more qualified women who have written on this topic, Becky being one of them. So please bear with me, dear sisters, as I ramble about and share with you one of the ways the Lord has been teaching me faithful obedience.
May the Lord bless and keep you!
Learning Faithful Obedience in the Desert of Chronic Illness
This last year the Lord has asked our family to walk through the desert of chronic illness. This has been a very real and life alerting cross. We are not victims of circumstance or bad luck. We are children of a living God who is writing our story and we know it is good!
So we step forward in faith and ask the questions…
What does it mean to be faithful in the midst of chronic illness? What does faithful obedience look like when God removes health and strength from the picture? How can we turn a profit on this and give it back to Him with interest?
One of the biggest challenges in chronic illness is often the loss of consistency and stability. Making plans must always be tentative and dependent on your heath that day. Your life becomes a balancing act of flexibility, fast acting and holding everything very loosely.
The strength to do ordinary, everyday things is not guaranteed. But the Lord providing always is!
I am reminded of the Israelite’s in the wilderness and the daily mana God provided. He didn’t give them bucket loads of food they could store up and know they had a pantry full of food for the lean times. Instead, He gave them each enough for that day only. He supplied their daily needs and asked that they rely on Him each day, trusting He would keep his promise and there would be food the next day. This daily bread, this food, was gathered and shared every morning. If someone didn’t gather enough, a neighbor shared the extra that they had. This is something I have seen and been blessed by time and time again. Those with more, giving to those with less.
Each day God gave his people what they needed, enough to be faithful. Each day I know and trust that the Lord will and does give me (and my family) enough. He will always provide the mana (strength) I need for that day. My job is not to make sure the mana shows up. My job is to be faithful with the mana that has been given.
I am learning that while there is always enough, there are days when I am asked to be faithful with little and days when I am asked to be faithful with much. Days when the strength is full and I am able to serve my family that way I love to with a clean house, fresh laundry and an oven full of good food. And there are days when the strength is so small that faithful obedience looks like having a cheerful heart and giving my family as much love and affection as I am able from bed.
I really enjoyed grocery shopping, but now give thanks for grocery pick up services. What a blessing!
Baking for my family is one of my favorite things, so I give thanks for prepackaged cookie dough, ready-to-bake pastries and frozen cinnamon rolls because there are days/weeks when that is as close to baking as I can get. I used to sneer at prepackaged pie dough in the grocery store. Ha! Now I rejoice over it and the blessing that it is. Canned soup, boxed mac and cheese and diet soda. All things my overly health conscious (self righteous) past self would never buy unless absolutely necessary, have become cheery reminders that all food is a gift from God to be given thanks for!
I am learning to be faithful on sick days by using them as days of prayer. Spending the day praying for the prayer requests on facebook, for family, my children and grandchildren and our community, both locally and globally. They have become sweeter days. Faith days. Days of deep seed planting. After a day like that it can be hard to feel as though anything was accomplished, but my days are not my own, they are His and He gets to decide what they best used for. I am learning to plant seeds in the rich soil of adversity. I am living in hope of a good harvest.
Not knowing from day to day how much strength the Lord will provide comes with it’s own set of temptations. The temptation to try to “save it up”. We all know how well that worked out for the Israelites and their mana. Ha! His provisions are not to be meagerly divided, hoarded or preserved. They are to be used up, fully spent and shared!
The temptation to become lazy or discouraged and not be faithful with what He has provided is also very real.
A fussy heart can sometimes feel justifiable and self soothing. But the problem with self soothing is just that, it’s about self. And we are called to mortify that self.
It’s temping sometimes to complain because I want more. “I want to give more, Lord. More to my family, friends and church! I would serve you so selflessly if you would just give me what I want, when I want it.” How easy it is to lie to ourselves. Deceiving ourselves into thinking that we would be faithful with more when we struggle to be faithful with less. What a blessing it is to know and be known by a Father we can not deceive. He knows our hearts. He knows our sins and He took them to the cross so we walk fearlessly before Him, loved and resting in His mercies. Hallelujah!
There are day when I grow weary of this wilderness and weep for the life I had hoped for that did not include this cross. I long for a land flowing with milk and honey. But then I am reminded it is here in this desert I see God doing great things in my heart, life and family. Building His house. Writing His law on our hearts. Conquering the enemy. Teaching us to trust Him for our every need. This wilderness is a hard one, but is is good one!
I am so thankful that as His daughter I can know and trust that He will continue to do a good work, because He is faithful and His faithfulness is not dependent on me.
“Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” -John 12:24
P.S. Books I highly recommend if you are going through a desert.
Notes from a Tilt-a-whirl and Death by Living, both by N.D. Wilson.
Psalms for Trails, by Lindsey Tollefson.
The Clouds Ye So Much Dread, by Hannah Grieser.
Beside Still Waters, by G H Spurgeon