As a former Lyme Disease sufferer, today’s article “Waste My Lyme” caught my attention. In it, author Jen Marie talks about her struggle with the disease and some of the spiritual insights she has gained through it. She points out that God can use trials, such as a chronic, incurable, painful health condition, to capture our attention and deepen our faith and trust in Him. That is if we don’t waste it.
The dramatic onset of my Lyme symptoms happened during the first week of my senior year of college. That entire semester was a dark blur as I struggled to adapt to my health limitations. In my Brio article, “Unwanted Detour,” I describe how God used the disease to change my heart:
One day I sat in my car at the end of a hectic afternoon, and tears began rolling down my face. I realized I couldn’t drive back to my apartment because my hands and feet were too stiff.
I tracked down my brother, who was a sophomore living in the dorms, and tearfully asked him if he could drive me home. That night as I lay in bed feeling so helpless, I prayed. Before that, I’d been ignoring God because I believed He might ask me to do the unthinkable — drop out of school.
As my roommate lay sleeping across the room, I poured my heart out to God. I cried as I told Him that I’d drop out of college if He asked me to. This was my Isaac. I knew God wanted me to give Him my future, my hopes and my dreams.
I hadn’t trusted Him with any of those things before. All through my high school and college years, I’d pressed ahead doing good things but failing to consult my heavenly Father about my plans.
As I gave my future to Him, a great peace settled over me. I knew that whether I stayed in school or moved home, He’d provide for me.
I look back on that season as both the hardest time in my life and the sweetest time with my Savior. I depended on Him, because I absolutely had to. And He offered me precious relief through the love of friends, unexpected provision and most of all His faithfulness.
During that time, Stacy S. Padrick’s article “5 Myths About Suffering,” was a profound comfort to me. In it, Padrick points out that suffering allows us to identify more deeply with Christ and can be used for God’s glory when we willingly accept and surrender it to Him.
Jen Marie adds that our sufferings, when given to the Lord, actually provide a strong witness:
There is nothing more confusing to a world that seeks wholeheartedly after comfort and health and possessions as the keys to happiness than a suffering, joyful Christian. God did not place me in this position without providing divine opportunities to display the light of the Gospel to that watching world.
I have several friends who struggle with chronic, painful conditions. And I know some of my Boundless friends do as well. Take heart today. You are not alone. God sees your pain and cherishes you in your physical weakness. He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). And because He is that kind of God, no suffering is a waste.