Thursday, March 25, 2010

What the heck?

I am going through one of the toughest (if not THE toughest) spiritual crises of my life right now. I'm having a hard time with God right now, I'll be honest. Not walking away or ditching my faith by any stretch, but definitely wrestling with a lot of things.

I have had a recurring bout of Strep Throat since January 30. It is now March 25, so this is almost two months. I'm on round four of antibiotics (which end tomorrow). The pattern has been that I do antibiotics, and within two days of finishing them the strep is back. Since I take my last of this round tomorrow, I may be actively sick again by the end of the weekend. Or, since I also had a Bicillin shot last week, I may not. Who knows?

This has really pushed my faith to the edge. I know, to some of you it may not sound like much, but I essentially have NO LIFE whatsoever now. It was a pretty "thin" life before the strep, since I'd been sick a lot this fall/winter, and even when I'm not sick I'm exhausted. The fall/winter sickies have been going on for three years (mostly chronic sinus infections), and the exhaustion has been around in varying degrees for probably nearly 20 years.

And I'm tired of it. As the lyrics to one of Phil Joel's songs says, "She was getting sick and tired of being sick and tired." Yep. That'd be me.

What I'm struggling with is what in heaven's name God is trying to accomplish in all this. He will not heal me (at least He hasn't yet). I've had the elders of my church over to anoint me with oil and pray over me -- which, at least on the surface, accomplished absolutely nothing. Well, it did shake my faith pretty hard when nothing happened. In my limited human capacity for understanding this makes no sense at all.

I know, I know, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding ..." I'm trying. I really am. More than anything I want to be one of those people who says, "Lord, I don't like this, but I trust that You have a reason and a purpose for this suffering and I will bow my will to Yours and accept it." I haven't reached that place yet. Right now I'm at the, "Lord, I know You have a reason and a purpose for this ridiculous suffering I'm going through right now, but I'd sure as heck like to know what it is because I certainly can't see what's positive or good about it" stage. To me this chronic illness thing is ridiculous suffering. It isn't noble, it doesn't help anybody out, in fact, it just makes me a burden to my family. I feel so sorry for my husband -- he's always so stressed out from work and his own health issues, and then he has me to deal with into the bargain. Aidan is too busy with his own stuff most of the time to be actively inconvenienced by my poor health, but I do feel sorry for him that he has a mother who spends 90% of her time lying on the couch feeling rotten. I'm not suffering for Christ in any way I can see. And I'm not exactly growing closer to Him through this, either, at least not right now. So it's hard to see the purpose in this stupid chronically poor immune system I have.

I'm struggling with God feeling so far away. As I said, I haven't walked away from Him, I've been trying to keep up a good relationship with Him, but it's very hard to do when you feel too physically bad most of the time to make much effort. And there's major brain fog involved, too, so Bible study/reading isn't very productive. I know it sounds like I'm having a giant pity party, but I'm having trouble seeing God as very "fatherly" right now. I want so badly for Him to draw near to me and be comforting, but I don't feel that very often. Mostly He just feels distant.

I know that my life is MUCH better than an awful lot of people's. I don't have cancer (that I know of), or any other debilitating illness. I'm not in the throes of grief over losing someone close to me, thankfully. I have a nice house, my husband has his job, my teenager is a good kid. (It almost scares me to write that stuff down ...!) And I am exceedingly grateful for these things. But I am not able to go and do things "normal" people can do (like grocery shop or sing on the Praise Team at my church), and that's difficult.

I know God is sovereign. I know He has a perfect will, and that He knows what is best for me. I know He loves me and I know that "all things work together for good for those who love the Lord ..." So I'm holding on. Some days I hold on with everything I have, other days I don't have much to hold with. I have struggled with a killer migraine today and that has made it incredibly hard to hold on. I have thought several times about ending my life, but I know that would destroy my family and because I love them better than I love myself, I am sticking around for them. But, oh, some days that is hard. Some days that is incredibly, amazingly hard.

So I'm choosing to be a person of faith. I will not walk away from God, no matter how hard the going gets. But that doesn't mean I like where I am right now, and that doesn't mean I won't have times when I struggle to understand God's purpose for me, when I struggle to even feel the love He has for me. That doesn't mean I can always say, "I know God is doing what's best." Yes, I know He is, but right now I really, really don't understand it.

As Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him." Some days that is a true sacrifice of praise. (He definitely deserves it, though -- that I still recognize!)

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