In Discouragement, Consider Him

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1-3

Every two weeks, I go through the same routine. Get up early. Wake up my youngest daughter. Pack a bag with some snacks and water. Load up some school work and something fun for Abby to do after completing school work. Head to an infusion center a few miles from my house to receive a life-saving medication, which is providing more dialysis-free/kidney transplant-free time for me. More about my life with aHUS here,  here and here.

Today was the day. Discouragement flooded in. Maybe it was because it was Wednesday and my usual Tuesday routine was disrupted due to a conflict at the infusion center. Maybe it was the sun beckoning me to be outside. Maybe it was my daughter’s groans expressing her complaints about getting up early with me. Maybe it was the bruise on my forearm from the previous IV. Or, maybe it was just the enemy’s tactic that morning to pull me down.

IV pic

What I know is that discouragement gets me to focus on none other than me. I am inward focused, thinking about, meditating on, and dwelling on my circumstances. Discouragement gets me stuck in my expectations and hopes and how things might have been. Discouragement leaves me thinking things like, “I don’t deserve this”.

But, the final sentence in the Hebrews passage above is verse 3 in which Paul instructs us to, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart“.

Consider: to think carefully about, regard with respect, pay attention to.

Paul in essence says, “Stop thinking about what is trapping you in sin. Keep running your race. Think about Jesus.”

Messages such as Hebrews 12: 1-3, always had me thinking something to myself along the lines of “think about Jesus and the torture and death He endured. Lisa, you can endure another needle poke, another day of fatigue, more trials, etc.”

I think there is some merit to that, comparing our circumstances to others who have gone through worse or are currently in a deep struggle.  When discouragement entrapped me today, something that helped in taking my eyes off myself was just that.

I remembered the patients in Australia who have a petition going to attempt to allow them to receive the medication I so easily receive. I remembered the friend fighting cancer with little strength to take care of her family. I saw the homeless couple in the parking lot rearranging their life’s belongings in their car. I focused on the friend with 3 foster children, pouring out her heart each day so the children can find healing. I thought about the lost, having no knowledge of the Loving Father they could find refuge in.

But, I am beginning to see the Hebrews passages in a different light. Rather than only comparing my suffering to Jesus’ suffering, I am beginning to see the magnitude of who He is.

The suffering He endured was for me.

The suffering He endured was necessary.

The suffering He endured met the requirement.

Jesus is better.

If you don’t know, dear one, Jesus is better. He is good. He is to be trusted. He is above all. He holds it all together. When you are in the midst of your trial, you must remember. You must consider. Jesus is better.

sunset cross

 

Where Was God in All of This–Part I

atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Rare. Unusual. Uncommon. 4 in 10 million of the population per year. An estimated 5 people in my state of Washington.

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I spent my life trying to blend in. Never wanting to stand out in anyway. In middle school, when my classes started issuing monthly academic awards, I promptly lowered my standard in completing my work as to not stand out amongst my peers. I worked hard at not drawing attention to myself.

In 2001, my world changed, and I became very weird, which caused me to stand out among everyone I know.

I drove myself to the emergency room, certain that I had a bad kidney infection. An hour into my time at the hospital, I learned my kidneys and liver were failing and my blood pressure was through the roof.

The doctor was talking about crazy things like inserting a catheter, starting dialysis, steroids, transfusions. What normal 25-year-old does all that? Get me out of here.

After about 24 hours, my doctor diagnosed  me with HUS (this later changed to aHUS: atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome). I had a special catheter placed in my chest and I began plasmapherisis (removal, treatment, and return of  blood plasma from blood) and dialysis.

New Life

To say this was a scary time is the biggest understatement I can fathom. My body was in a constant trembling state.

That summer was spent at the hospital. Doctors said I would most likely never return to teaching again. Life as I knew it, seemed to be a memory.

I was living a whole new life filled with nurses, doctors, and medications.

Along with fear, I was also dealing with feeling like somehow I had failed myself. What had I done to cause this? And, why couldn’t I fix it?  I was weak and dependent.

Dependent on a freezer bag full of medications for daily blood pressure control. Dependent on tubes in my chest to receive medical treatment. Dependent on blood donations of others to sustain my life. Dependent on doctors and nurses.

Where was God in all of this?

At first, I distanced myself from Him. I remember one dark night, alone in my room, having this very real feeling that God or at least one of His angels was sitting in the corner of my room. He was sad. At the time, I thought He was sad due to my seemingly hopeless situation. I was in a pattern of trying different chemotherapies, receiving plasma exchanges 3-7 times a week, taking high doses of steroids, and watching my lab work virtually go unchanged. God must be as sad and depressed as I was. I was a pitiful sight.

The Lord never performed an overnight miracle in me. I have never had the experience of going to the doctor and hearing him declare, “We can’t explain it, but you are healed!”

He’s kept me close to Him by providing just what I need for the day. You know, “Give us this day, our daily bread…” He gives me enough energy to accomplish His will for the day. He gives me just enough kidney function to stay off dialysis, but not enough to forget my need for Him. He keeps my blood pressure steady, but gives me no way of controlling my blood pressure on my own. The Lord gives me what I need, no more, no less. 

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No Overnight Healing

I have thought about the Lord’s sadness during the early years of my illness, when I imagined Him crying along with me. He wasn’t hopeless. He was longing for me to trust Him in my heartache. He was hurting with me, but He knew that I would one day find deep peace in Him, but I wasn’t there yet. He knew that one day, He would make me an overcomer, but for now I was weak. He knew that one day, I’d stop focusing on my illness, and focus on my Healer. 

In John chapter 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men with only 2 small fish and 5 pieces of bread. No one can deny this miracle. But, as I reread the familiar story, I look for where Jesus says, “Hey, everyone! Watch this! I am about to perform a miracle. Everyone is starving and in need of food. Now abracadabra, (sparks flying) let there be food!” The disciples gasp, “Ooh, aah! Amazing!” No, instead I read, ‘”Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wantedHe did the same with the fish.”‘

miracles-of-jesus-feeding-5000-1127601-wallpaper In the 15 years since my diagnosis, I have never experienced a flashy display of healing. Instead, I have experienced the faithful love, guidance, protection, teaching, molding, sanctifying, steady healing of My Savior. I have experienced mere men telling me I will never teach again, I will never be a mom, my kidneys will not last, and I have seen the Lord’s supernatural answer to mere men. You will teach! You will be a mom! Your kidneys will hang in there! And, I have experienced something far greater than physical healing, I have experienced soul healing. 

And, I have seen God’s answer to my problem of being unusual…He says, you are precious in My sight.

Read Part II here: Where Was God in All of This–Part II