There is Blessing in Suffering

I seldom get sick, and if I do, it is the usual fever or flu. I eat healthy and exercise. However, on July 20, 3 days after homeschooling and 5 days before my birthday, an unexpected happened. I felt a sudden contraction on my stomach and numbness on my back and extremities. I rested for a while and thankfully, this weird feeling gradually weaken. However, it keeps on coming back especially when I make  big movements.  I don't know what got into me and which doctor to go to. So I ended up going to a Chinese doctor.  He said that I have acid reflux and gave me chinese herbs. There was a big improvement after taking the first batch  but on the third batch, my whole body became numb. I was rushed to the ER. The doctor gave me medicines to calm my nerve and told me to take vitamin B. To verify what I am really sick of,  I decided to go to a regular doctor. He said it was indeed acid reflux. I  informed him about my other symptoms. He explained to me that they are general and nonspecific so he cannot make any diagnosis.

It was hard dealing with this discomfort not knowing what it is. I had random fatigue, light headedness, indigestion,  numbness/tingling in extremities,  pressure on neck, head and face and anxiety. I went to different doctors to rule out these symptoms. In the end, it turned out that I am experiencing premenopausal symptoms.

Many times I ask God, why did He allow this to happen, why was it so hard for me while others go through premenopause in a breeze.  What is His message, what does He want me to do? Reading daily devotion and meditating on His Word has help me  to reflect on my situation. There are times that Satan would inject lies, telling me that what happened was my fault. He insisted that it is because of my sins and shortcomings that I ended up this way. Reading and praying daily brought me in alignment to God's will thus making my relationship with Him stronger. In the 4 months that I felt physical discomfort, I thank God that He allowed me to see His goodness and experience His presence.

1.  Embracing change. Accept reality that change is inevitable. Every time we feel uneasy, remember that this is just a phase. This too shall pass. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun". We should see it in a different perspective. Change helps us to grow to become more like Jesus Christ in how we respond or act. I choose to fight the symptoms so that I can be productive and be of use by God.

2.     God is preparing us for a special task, for a future opportunity. Because we don't understand God's ways, at times we may  think we are ready. I already committed myself to lead a BS group after consulting with God. But because I homeschooled my son unexpectedly, it did not push through. My mentor suggested that I adjust first for 3 months then I can go back when I am ready. But when the time came, I was still sick. Why was God delaying if He already answered yes? God spoke to me in one of the church service I attended.  He was preparing my heart. He wants my heart to be pure before serving His people. Love instead of hate, humility instead of pride, sacrifice instead of greed. Psalm 139:23-24 says " Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting".

3.    Focus on God's character, His glory, power and faithfulness. In my prayer time, I can't help but dictate to Him the suffering that I am going through, crying out to God to heal me and take away the discomfort as soon as possible. God impress upon me not to spend a lot of time describing my mountain to Him. He knows what it is. In Chip Ingram's book "God as He Longs for You to See Him",  I was reminded of God's 7 attributes; His goodness, sovereignty, holiness, wisdom, justice, love and faithfulness. We will see God in a whole new light if we focus on His character. It will change the way we pray,  the way we live and the way we think about the world around us. There were days when I would cry out to Him and ask if it is okay to do so. I was afraid that He would get angry and punished me. Through this book, God reminded me of His goodness. If Jesus cried out from His cross "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me", then it is also okay for us to cry out our why....  my cry of desperation out of agony. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says. "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

4.   God's grace is sufficient. He allowed me to see His goodness in every situation. My sickness prevented me from doing the errands, talking and laughing with my family and going out with them. With these challenges, God revealed to me my family's deep love and understanding. They don't want me to get tired so they do some of the errands. It showed my love for them as well by making the effort to prepare our meal even if I don't feel well. God's grace is revealed through homeschool. I would ask my son to study on his own, answer the worksheet and I will check when I am feeling fine. We were able to finish what should be done in spite of days where we can't study because of hospital visits. On the day that we need to meet our family adviser, God gave me physical, emotional and mental strength. The Lord ministered grace to me through prayers of family and friends. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness".

5.    I appreciate my work more. There came a time when I felt my life to be very routine. Everyday was a forceful effort to fulfill my obligations. Not being active for the past 4 months has rekindled my passion for living and  appreciate its monotony. I miss doing the errands, I miss my work, I even miss driving (I'd rather be stuck in traffic than sick).  Colossians 3:23 tells us "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters".

6.  There is more empathy.  My sickness has brought me understanding of how people with debilitating condition struggle with their every day life. The pain that they agonize on a daily basis can't be compare to what I felt but gave me greater comprehension of their difficulty. It gave me awareness on what their thoughts are, their physical capacity and their emotional weight. This journey has brought me understanding on the life of someone who suffer with sickness and loneliness. Colossians 3:12 reminds us "Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience".

As I close, let me share with you what I've read in "One Year at His Feet Devotional". It says that those who suffer willingly are standing in an eternal perspective. They have put away their misguided ambition of creating their heaven on earth and have embraced the coming kingdom. They can be content with temporary trials because their eyes are open to the eternal panorama. Those who rebel against their suffering, however, are still hoping in the here and now. Somewhere deep inside they had expected a better deal in this life and not yet invested their hopes in God's kingdom. They had an agenda for this life that didn't fit with His.

Looking back on this journey, I am reminded of how faithful our God is. I was going through a lot of  emotions: doubt, fear, loneliness, anger, frustrations, hope, joy, courage. In spite of this, God gave me peace, knowing that suffering has a bigger purpose. To God be the glory!


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