Heart disease, it’s real, it’s painful, it has a name.
Diabetes, it’s real, it’s painful, it has a name.
Fibromyalgia, it’s real, it’s painful, it has a name.
What’s the difference? While I do not have heart disease or diabetes, I do have fibromyalgia and let me tell you there are many differences. The most glaring being, fibromyalgia is invisible. Your whole body aches and twitches and screams with any offensive movement. Yet it is silent. The knots and stiffness inside your muscles seem to be soundlessly strangling you. The frustration at the once athletic body now unable to get up from bed some days seems to overwhelm you. This is fibromyalgia. Most of you reading this are probably thinking at this point that I am being ridiculous or dramatic. However, there are those out there who know exactly what I am talking about and are feeling those very things right now.
I have not had this condition for very long but I have had chronic illness for as long as I can remember.
It was my birthday, I was turning 6 or 7 I don’t remember exactly my age but I remember that night very clearly. My family had invited a close group of friends over to our place for a birthday party/bon fire. It was a great night and I had a ton of fun, but I remember trying my best to be careful not to laugh too loudly or move too quickly because I had a migraine coming on. The night progressed and so did my pain. I had to leave the party, take a hot shower, and go to bed. I remember squinting painfully into the mirror at my head wondering if it would someday just explode. I spoke cautiously into the mirror so as not to be a catalyst for the impending irruption, “Why do you do this to me?”
After years of doctors’ visits, tests, medications, MRI’s, CT scans, alternative approaches, late nights in emergency rooms, blood draws and frustrations today at 21 years old I still struggle with migraines.
I have asked that question many times over the years through many different health issues, migraines, allergies, brain tumor scare, fatigue, fainting spells, polycystic ovarian syndrome and fibromyalgia and I have not found the answer yet. I have however, found a better question. “God, I don’t know why you’re doing this to me, but what are you trying to teach me?”
Maybe some of you are tracking a little better now, or maybe some of you are still struggling to find this better question. I want to share with you some of the things I have learned along the way (however short that way may seem to some of you.) I don’t have all the answers and I have experienced little in my small vapor of a life but I have learned some valuable lessons through God’s word.
In researching books, articles, blogs and other resources I often would become frustrated by the triteness of what I read. It would always say something along the lines of trust God, because he loves you. Please don’t misunderstand; these are legitimate, accurate, and totally applicable statements. However, there is so much more to the story. I’d encourage you dear one going through this physical trial to grab a cup of coffee and your copy of God’s word and read and learn together with me.
- God is good.
Yea, I know you have heard this one a million times. I remember saying these exact words this past semester on a particularly dark, painful, frustrating day. “If I hear the words ‘God is good’ one more time, even if they are from my own mouth, I’m going to scream!” Thankfully, I have an incredibly loving, caring, godly boyfriend who is willing to confront my bad attitudes and I quickly realized what I had said and sought forgiveness. Has this ever happened to you, dear one? Have you ever doubted God’s goodness in the midst of such pain? How is God good in this? I want to illustrate this with maybe not the passage of Scripture you think of first. I want to look at Ruth. While our faithful sister Ruth probably did not experience physical pain such as Job or Paul, she most definitely experienced emotional pain. How do you think she was feeling leaving her people with her husband and journeying to a strange land? Alone perhaps? Or maybe like no one understood her? I cannot imagine the pain she felt at the death of her husband. Ruth had no way of seeing the end of the story like we do. We know her story has a happy ending, we know that she is blessed among women in the Bible. Ruth acted in faith, trusting in God’s goodness when she could not see the purpose for her suffering. I am most definitely speaking to my own heart as much as yours. My faith is so pathetically weak sometimes. Living another day in pain sometimes seems impossible. My boyfriend challenged my faith once in a way I would never forget. He said: If God always called us to the possible, then where would faith be? I have learned that living another day in pain is never possible on my own. I need the strength of my Lord to lean upon. To raise me up. To exchange my weakness for his strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
One important side note we should gleam from the life of Ruth is not only did she have faith, but she was proactive. Scripture never records Ruth sitting around wondering why this was happening to her. Rather, she committed to take care of her mother-in-law Naomi, worked hard in the fields, and obeyed Naomi’s orders concerning Boaz. Dear friend, we cannot allow our physical maladies to become an excuse for not doing what God has called us to do. Yes, we have struggles and we must seek God’s wisdom for how we are to do those things in spite of those struggles. A dear friend once told me “Your identity is not in your sickness, but it is in Christ. Do others see you as a faithful servant like Ruth? Or do they see your sickness first?