Life keeps coming at us, ready or not. Struggles don’t cease in this life, for those who are striving to live Godly in Christ Jesus. On Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, I was looking forward to our whole family being in church together. For various reasons, of late, that hasn’t been happening as often as is ideal. Sunday before I got out of bed, (or even woke up, for that matter) hubby came in and informed me that my younger son was dizzy, nauseated and vomiting. He was developing itchy spots Saturday morning when he got up, which we thought might have been a spider bite, or something. By Saturday night he had a few areas of hives that had puffed up. We gave him the standard Benadryl, and the itching subsided and he went to bed, but when he woke up he was worse off in the morning. Fearing that the reaction was intensifying, I knew we needed to go ahead and get him to an intermediate care clinic. We could not pinpoint anything in those prior hours or days that he had eaten that was different than the norm, hadn’t changed detergents, and the only thing I could remotely think of that might be the source of a reaction, was his antibiotic, even though he had been on it for a couple of weeks already. Allergic reactions are strange that way. It’s not that uncommon for a sudden allergy to develop to something you’ve been exposed to before with no trouble in the past. Well, Garrett and I still made it to A.M. worship service, but both boys stayed home, as someone needed to remain with the patient. We “did Mothers Day” later in the afternoon.
My neighbor and dear friend-of-the-family, Barbara, said to me Sunday night: “you must always feel like you’re waiting for the next shoe to drop”. I laughed slightly and said, “I think there is a millipede up there dropping them” (or throwing them, like the Iraqi journalist at George W. Bush). If you’ve been with this blog a while, you’ll “get” that. I try real hard not to let it happen, but there are times I do get to wondering whether we in this family are being chastised, or whether it is harassment from that old snake Satan. I was having one of those days yesterday, discouraged. Feeling a little “picked on” and like I just couldn’t deal with one more thing. When I get into that frame of mind, I usually talk out loud to the Lord if there is no one home but me. Sometimes I just have a good cry, then go back to sleep for a while, and “start over” when I wake up. (Lest readers unfamiliar with my history get the wrong impression, I have chronic medical conditions, and hubby right now is going through chemo). It’s one of those periods in life that you just grit your teeth and get through.
Then, at 4 a.m. this morning, Garrett woke me up again.
“Sandee, I think I’m in arrhythmia again”.
I was not “out from under” my 2nd dose of the med I take at night for my narcolepsy, so I couldn’t even go with him to the E.R.
This morning, he had his sixth electro-cardioversion. (We are thinking of investing in our own defibrillator, lol). We are thankful that despite the “(Un)Affordable Care Act, and all the impending upheaval that will very soon be bringing (just found out this morning my sleep-equipment supplier has been dropped from coverage) that for the time being, at least we are getting the good care we need, and by God’s grace we are making minimum payments on the substantial portion insurance doesn’t pay (which seem to be satisfying the many docs, hospitals, surgeons, ad infinitum, who have administered some form of care to one or the other member of our family, the total expense of which,for the past 5 and a half months alone, has just exceeded $200,000). Of course every time something like, oh, a compound fracture, tumor, or misbehaving heart, crops up, the responsibilities on our shoulders get to feeling that much heavier. We know Psalm 55:22 and Matthew 11:29 by heart. There are just times in life that the onslaught feels a little relentless.
We understand that “in this world you will have trouble (tribulation). We realize that when good things happen it is not because we deserve it, and when bad things happen it is also not necessarily true that it is because “we deserve it”. But we are to “count it all joy” because if we persevere in our faith, we will be given the “crown of life” someday. I understand those things. And still, it is hard. Can you smile while sucking the juice of a lemon? Sour, unpleasant, bitter circumstances that take away our smile, doesn’t necessarily equate with our being “robbed of our joy”. I know the Webster’s definition of Joy is “happiness”, but I don’t think that is accurate. That’s the world’s definition. I think Joy is sometimes something that is way down deep, that may not be reflected by a smiling countenance at all times. It’s a certain knowledge that the trial will pass, (eventually), and there is something good beyond it, somewhere. And even if the trial is followed (much more quickly than we would like) with yet another trial, (and another, and another) the same still holds true. The good may not come in this life. There will always be “a next thing” that replaces the present trial in this life. But one day, this life will be over. We who are born again under the blood of Jesus, will be with our Lord and Savior Jesus, in the presence of God and loved ones, and the angels, and all the trials will be over.
I will be honest with you. It is not a fun and joy-filled existence, being unable to maintain a job because of both recurrent, as well as chronic health conditions. I don’t like it. Every time I go to a Doctor’s appointment or a hospital, I am reminded of that loss of my nursing career (and income, and freedom to spend money). But praise God, I got to be at home with my kids more than many Mom’s (of those who want to) are able to. I hate watching my husband go through chemo, but I am extremely thankful for a Doctor Rhamen at an intermediate care clinic who had the presence of mind to draw a CBC and finding a Hemoglobin half of what it ought to have been, sent my husband to a hospital where a tumor was discovered, and removed. Chemo reduces the chances of a recurrence, but doesn’t eradicate it altogether. We are thankful for the improved odds. I miss our friend Johnny and my Dad, who went Home within a few weeks of one another last Autumn. I will miss Johnny’s widow, Barbara, when she is no longer my neighbor as she moves to live with her son. Johnny and Barbara’s house and their friendship, have been a haven of safety and understanding and love, “through it all”. I won’t go into the “it all” (it’s there in my sidebar “Purple Morning Glories and Gold Lady Bugs” 12 chapters worth).. That seems like an odd title, for a tale of struggle, but the emphasis is on the little things God does to help us get through each and every one of the trials that come, and the fact that He does get us through them.
I’ve stopped wondering what might happen next, and just referring to our seeming unending series of difficulties as “just the next thing”. When they diagnosed the cancer, I told my pastor “Well, it’s just the next thing”. In those waiting and “not-knowing” days and hours, there was plenty of time for it occur to me that like my Mom and Barbara, I might find myself soon a widow. But God granted me the ability to stay in the moment, and just hang on in faith. The only way these things can defeat us is if we lay down and give up. You won’t hear the “rebuke your troubles away” line from me. If you believe that, give me a call, I’d like to sell you some magic beans. “We are more than conquerors in Christ”, doesn’t mean we will not have to pass through fires and murky, turbulent waters. It just means that when we come out on the other side, we will be that much more “refined”, and “tempered”, “perfected” (made complete). God is making us fit for the Kingdom.
Here is commentary from http://www.gotquestions.org including scriptures on the subject of testing in the Bible.
Question: “Why does God test us?”
Answer: When we ask why God tests us, or allows us to be tested, we are admitting that testing does indeed come from Him, as clearly taught in Scripture. Although we are forbidden to test Him (Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:7), when God tests His children, He does a valuable thing. David sought God’s testing, asking Him to examine his heart and mind and see that they were true to Him (Psalm 26:2; 139:23). In both the Old and New Testaments, the words translated “test” mean to prove by trial. Therefore, when God tests His children, the purpose is to prove that our faith is real. Not that God needs to prove it to Himself since He knows all things; rather, He is proving to us that our faith is real, that we are truly His children, and that no trial or test will overcome that faith.
In His Parable of the Sower, Jesus identifies the ones who fall away as those who receive the seed of God’s Word with joy, but as soon as a time of testing comes along, they fall away. James clearly explains that the testing of our faith develops perseverance, which leads to maturity in our walk with God. Perseverance in times of trial and testing will result in our spiritual maturity, our completeness (James 1:3-4). James goes on to say that testing is a blessing, because when the testing is over and we have “stood the test,” we will “receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Testing and trying come from our heavenly Father who works all things together for good for those who love Him and who are called to be the children of God (Romans 8:28).
The testing or trials we undergo come in various ways. Becoming a Christian will often require us to move out of our comfort zones and into areas we have never encountered before. We’ve perhaps heard the saying ‘No pain – no gain’ when exercising our physical bodies. The same applies to exercising our faith in God. This is why James wrote ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds’ (James 1:2). Testing our faith can be in small things like daily irritations; they may also be severe afflictions (Isaiah 48:10). Whatever the source of the testing from God, it is to our benefit to undergo the trials.
The account of Job is a perfect example of God allowing one of His saints to be tested by the devil. Job bore all his trials patiently and “did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22). However, the account of Job’s testing is proof that Satan’s ability to tempt us is limited by God’s sovereign control. No demon can test or afflict us with beyond what God has ordained for His perfect purpose and our benefit.
There are many examples that can be used to illustrate the positive results from our being tested. The Psalmist likens our testing to that of being refined like silver (Psalm 66:10). Elsewhere in Scripture we can read of our trials as that of gold being refined in order to remove all its impurities (1 Peter 1:7). By the testing of our faith, God causes us to grow and mature into strong disciples who truly live by faith in Him, not by what we see (2 Corinthians 5:7).
When testing and trials come our way, we should receive them with joy, because we know that it is God who allows them to strengthen our faith. When we are knocked about in the storms of life, like the tree that digs its roots ever deeper for a greater grip, we must dig our roots deeper into God’s Word so we can withstand whatever comes against us.
Most comforting of all, we know that God will never allow us to be tested beyond what we are able to handle and in all things will provide a way out of the test (1 Corinthians 10:13). This does not mean He will remove the trial from us. Why would He when He says trials are for our benefit? Rather, the “way out” is the way through. the trial, with Him ever faithful by our side, until we come out on the other side of it by His grace and power, stronger and more mature Christians.