“Those who suffer He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction.” (Job 36:15)
I stare up at the ceiling and focus on the florescent light above my gurney.
“Do you have any questions about the procedures you’re having today, Katherine?” the nurse asks me.
“No,” I laugh. “I’ve had them several times.”
She looks surprised and I know the question is coming. The “why?” that leads to my story, so before she can ask, I smile and say,” I have a lot of health complications. I have Crohn’s Disease, Oral Allergy Syndrome, a pain disorder, and have had flares of pancreatitis, an appendectomy, a cholecystectomy, preeclampsia…”
“Wow,” she says. Her brow furrows. “How old are you?”
I laugh because I know the list of maladies and my age do not seem to match. “28,” I say.
“Oh, honey,” she frowns. “Ok, let’s get you all prepped and ready to go so we can find out what’s going on today.”
I give her a thumbs up and say cheerfully, “sounds good!”
The truth is, though, I don’t feel cheerful. I feel scared.
God, what is it this time?
I want answers. More than that, I want to have all the pain and sickness go away. To be washed clean of it all. To be a normal twenty-something-year-old worrying about normal problems, not thinking about disease and illness and…death. Because the truth is every time I lay on a gurney, I wonder how much time I have left. How many more flare ups, diseases, and illnesses my body can handle. Each one takes a toll. Each one renders me exhausted. Each one makes me feel small and frail and alone.
I need to stay positive. I know I do. So, I focus again on the light.
To the mom who struggles with chronic illness, I am carrying you in my heart today. I know you are tired, not only of the pain and the sickness but also of the unknown. You carry worry deep within you that others may not see or understand and you wonder if there will ever be a time when you will be free of it.
You worry about your energy, your ability to care for your children, and your mortality. You worry about your illness worsening and how it will affect your family.You go back and forth from feeling exhausted and defeated to thankful and hope-filled. You are a bundle of contradictions.
I know that in between the doctors visits, trips to the ER, and hospitalizations you still have to do the laundry, wash the dishes, and care for your little ones. I know that life does not stop nor do the demands from others around you. The bills must be paid, including the mounting medical ones, and the budget must be balanced. I know that you often feel alone, isolated by the condition that makes it difficult to lead a normal life, to maintain friendships, and to kick off your shoes and just have a little fun.
I am praying for you today. Praying God would fill you up with strength and energy. Laughter and precious friendships to lift you up on the tough days. He hears your cries. So don’t despair. Don’t give up. And today, dear one, choose to laugh. I will laugh right alongside you, with you, in honor of the life you live because even on the days that are gloomy there is always a ray of hope in the darkness.
I believe He is close even when He feels a million miles away. I believe He stands strong by my bedside when the hurts are great and it feels like the night is closing in. I believe there is grace in suffering and redemption in the cross. For He says, “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
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