I had to take a short “blog break” after my last chemo on November 29 because it left me wiped out! My doc tells me that it is not unusual to have the cumulative effects of chemo hit hard after 4 or 5 sessions and that is what I encountered. After a few day, just as I was feeling a return of my old energy level, I went right into a bout of bronchitis which put me down again. If anyone had told me that sitting up at the computer would look like an overwhelming task I would have said “impossible”. But I learned differently when I reached a new level of tired.
I recovered enough to make my first Christmas shopping trip last weekend during which a very freaky accident left me with a re-injury to an old shoulder problem that was very painful. That too delayed my use of the computer for a few more days! Since that happened I have been suffering from pain plus frustration that my “good” days between chemo treatments have been spoiled by a bad shoulder.
However, the Lord is near, and in the flow of all this I have been rolling over in my mind the whole concept of suffering in the life of a Christ-follower. Don’t get me wrong – I know that my “light afflictions” , as frustrating as they have been over the last few months, are so minor in comparison to that which so many undergo that I hesitate to even use the word “suffering”. It’s a little embarrassing to use that word it as it seems overly dramatic. But I’m going to use it anyway and uncomfortably forge ahead to examine how this whole situation is playing out. Here’s hoping my attempt at transparency will resonate with someone else who may have the same problem that I do with being less than fully capable in my own strength.
Here is my current “schoolroom”. I know that I have long been trapped in the deception that “performance” equals “worth” which has resulted in striving in all areas of my life, including that of the spiritual. My head knows all about grace and the unconditional love of God, but it has seemed impossible for my soul and spirit to catch up to my head knowledge. I also know that I have been unwilling to deal with whole idea of being unable to be a complete “conquerer”, to use a Biblical term, of all things. So along comes a debilitating physical illness which has forced me to say the words “I can’t” way more than I want to. Having recognized that, I find that my emotional discomfort is greater than my physical painl! After all, if I (that big, bold “I”) can’t take care of everything concerning me, who can?
So on to the topic of weakness. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strenth is perfected in weakness” (II Corinthiaans 12:9). This is one of those scripture verses that I have known since I could talk, it seems. But I never wanted to be weak, no matter how much it might connect me to the power of God. I may not have realized that in such stark terms, but being in a position of physical weakness the last few weeks has caused me to see something in big, flashing, neon letters. It is that my over-the-top self-reliant nature is part of that pesky little thing called “sin”. Somehow I picked up the idea that self-reliance was one of the most sterling of virtues. In spite of my life experiences to the contrary, it never quite hit home what a destructive thing that was to my intimacy with God, who desires to be my strength.
So I find myself now in the middle of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. Can this possibly be God working in my life?? Much as I hate to admit it, the answer is a big, loud YES, and I know it. Now you’ll have to excuse me while I take a break, because my wounded wing (shoulder) is killing me! More later- maybe I’ll be “stronger” then. Blessings! Joy