Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Friday, March 23, 2012

But You Don't Look Sick

     This month marks one year since my lung issues made themselves known. Later, other concerns surfaced as well. All told, in the last twelve months, I’ve seen my family doctor, two respirologists, a urologist, and a gynecologist. Next up to bat: an immunologist.
     I have submitted to 4 CT scans, 1 Chest X-ray, 6 Blood Tests, 1 Breathing Test (not to be confused with a Breathalyzer test), 2 Bronchoscopies, 3 Ultrasounds, 1 Pap Test, 1 Mammogram, 1 EKG, 1 Cystoscopy, and a partridge in a pear tree. I have also been prayed for numerous times by numerous people.
     That seems like a lot for a woman who doesn’t look sick, who was previously healthy, who exercises, who doesn’t smoke or drink, and who was blessed with good teeth.
     Nothing life threatening was revealed, though, and for that I’m grateful. I can live with the chest discomfort and the coughing associated with Bronchiectasis (a condition I had never heard of before, and I’m guessing you hadn’t either.)
     The fatigue, however, changes one’s life. You adapt and begin to accept your new normal. But then a year goes by and when you look back and take stock, you realize all the things you are no longer doing. I’ve had to confess a lot of coveting in my life, but never dreamed I’d be coveting friends just for their ability to stay up all day.
     Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. Keep reading, there is a point coming round the bend.
     I hate wasting anything. Especially suffering. I use the term “suffering” loosely here. I realize I’m hardly suffering in the larger scope of things, but for lack of a better word, let’s use it. I figure if you have to go through something anyway, for crying out loud, let it be useful. Right?
     So my ears perked up when a man named Sammy Tippit spoke on this topic at a recent conference. He gave us five reasons for suffering according to the Bible, and I’ll give you my condensed version here.

#1. I Don’t Know.
     If you’ve read the story of Job, you know that near the end, after a multitude of troubles have fallen upon poor Job, God finally speaks. But he doesn’t give Job any answers, only more questions. Let this be a lesson to us. Don’t be too quick to give answers when even God is mysterious with them.

#2. The Benefit of Our Own Character.
     Those of you with an athletic bent fully understand that it’s not the flat-land running that makes you strong. It’s the hills.

#3. For the Sake of Others.
     People will identify more with your suffering than with your victories. Suffering can deepen our compassion and improve the way we treat others. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

#4. For the Glory of God.
     This is hard to grasp, but ask any Christ-follower from a country where he is persecuted for his faith. He’ll tell you straight: “The glory of God comes through much suffering.”

#5. The Presence of God is Manifested in the Midst of Suffering.
     If you read the promises Jesus made that he would “be with us,” most come in the context of difficulty or suffering. It seems we need to suffer to truly know him.

     I can’t pretend I’ve mastered any of these points, but I’d sure like to. Meanwhile, if you can benefit from them, please do. Helen Keller said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
     Suffering is, after all, pretty universal. Don’t let yours go to waste.


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