The driving rain today sums up the past few weeks for me. They’ve been dark, they’ve been dreary, they’ve been messy and uncomfortable. Rays of sun have broken through here and there, but they have been few and fleeting.
I started IV antibiotics two weeks ago to address a plunge in my lung function which followed a difficult winter of weathering illness after illness. Being my first experience with IVs for cystic fibrosis, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I surely didn’t expect what came. Instead of feeling relief and healing, I experienced a steady worsening of symptoms. Instead of renewed health and strength, I felt myself plunging deeper into what feels like an abyss–sleepless nights, a tight, raspy cough, unsightly congestion, exhaustion, and with it all, a profound feeling of defeat.
This is not the first time I’ve had a health crisis, and this current struggle does not come close to the magnitude of a few emergency situations I’ve lived through. But to the best of my recollection, this is the first time I’ve struggled so intensely to pull myself out of such strong feelings of fear, worry, and disappointment.
A few nights ago, Lucas could not drop off to sleep. We were laying together in his bed, but rather than settling down, he became increasingly restless. I finally sat up and asked him if he was alright. He said no. I asked if his stomach hurt and he pulled up his shirt and pointed to a spot he said was hurting. I pulled him into my arms and rocked him as best I could on the bed, and we prayed that Jesus would ease his discomfort, anxiety, or whatever was causing sleep to be so elusive.
After our prayer, I leaned against his head-board and held him close. He relaxed immediately, his full weight pressing into me as he let go of his tension and worry. It still took sometime before his breathing became even and he dropped off to sleep, but the peace was immediate. He found the rest he needed wrapped tightly in my arms.
In this current health struggle, I feel much like Lucas did that night. I’m thrashing around, trying to get comfortable, trying to find a place to rest, but it is not coming. My mind is swirling with questions and fears and confusion. I don’t understand what is happening to me, why my lung function dropped so suddenly, why the treatments aren’t yet bringing noticeable results, why the bottom fell out after I had been enjoying a long streak of well-managed health. My very ability to live the life I’ve been given feels questionable and normal seems so far off.
I felt God speaking to me that night, as I was holding my son. He told me that I too, can find rest in His embrace. That I, too, am loved with a love fiercer and stronger than I could ever put into words. That I too, can trust Him, my heavenly Father, who is for me, not against me. I hear Him saying to me, “Do not be afraid.” But unlike Lucas, I have had much difficulty in accepting this love, this rest, these assurances in this struggle. My heart feels locked up tight. I am restless. I am full of doubt. I am afraid.
In troubled times, there is no better place to go than to the Psalms. Pretty much every human emotion is chronicled there as the writers cry out to God in the midst of whatever life throws their way. Psalm 62 came to my mind today. In this psalm, the writer, David, talks of being assaulted, thrown down, and toppled, all words that I can relate to right now. In the midst of whatever he was battling, David says,
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (verses 5-8)
Do you notice the active words in these verses? Find rest. Trust. Pour out your hearts. That’s what I need to do right now. So although my heart is lagging behind, I am trying. I’m seeking God’s rest. I’m putting my trust in Him. I certainly am pouring out my heart. And my God is faithful. I know He will get me there. He is my refuge.