Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Firm Grip

For the past 25 years I have lived with chronic illnesses. Two years ago my world shifted off its axle when I was told I had Late Stage Neurological Lyme Disease that had gone undiagnosed for 23 yrs. After 2 years of treatment progress has been made, but my doctor tells me I will be fighting this for the rest of my life along with CFS and other illnesses.

In early June of this year my husband, Joel, was also diagnosed with Neurological Lyme Disease. His illness probably dates back 10 years when he was fighting a mysterious sickness for 6 months that was labeled “Post Viral Syndrome” due to all blood tests being negative. Like me, no one ever checked for Lyme at the onset of our illnesses.

We are stunned and finding all this difficult to grasp. Joel is Senior Pastor of a larger congregation and due to my health issues he commutes to work an hour away. He is also my caregiver as I am housebound and mostly live my life from my sofa sanctuary. Our world has been turned upside down and at times I find myself worried about how we will get through this turn of events.

The morning after Joel’s diagnosis God comforted me with the familiar words of Isaiah 40:28-31.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, the will walk and not be faint.”

As I clung to these verses and prayed for God’s strength, I picked up The Message to read a different translation, and my eyes were drawn to Isaiah 41 where God is speaking to Jacob.

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There is no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you………….That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting you go. I’m telling you, don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.”

It became very clear to me that God was in the midst of our situation, and He wanted to reassure us that we could rely on His promises to be with us.

God being such a loving God, has continued this week to remind us of His promises in Isaiah through devotionals and a sermon I listened to live at Saddleback Church, where Buddy Owens spoke on “desert experiences and how God meets us in the desert, giving us the strength we need to walk through them. He also promises a place of spiritual growth and God will be glorified in it. Isaiah 40:3-5 gives us that promise:

A voice of one calling: In the desert prepare the way for the Lord……And the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken”.

We do feel we are going through a wilderness experience, but we have already found “streams in the desert” that God has provided which are nourishing us along with way. Joel’s gift of paid medical leave, a wonderful Lyme specialist, an allergy practitioner who is helping us heal, encouraging and faithful friends, my blogging and support groups who understand the journey, and the prayers of our family and friends have all nourished and strengthened us. We are truly blessed.

Throughout all our lives, there are times when we all have desert experiences. We don’t know what the future holds for us, but we do know WHO holds the future. And we also know who holds us in His firm grip. He has promised to not let go. He has promised to give strength to the weary and power to the weak. He will meet us in the desert and not only will we soar on wings like eagles, but God's glory will be revealed!! We are blessed.


Jan Lyn said...

So difficult a journey, Renee. I'm sorry to hear about your husband too. Your dependance and confidence in God who holds your future spoke to me tonight. That last paragraph gave me such a precious moment of calm. I had these lines from the hymn I used to like so much from my childhood enter my mind. It's from "I sing because I'm happy" and I thought about it as you seem to have the ability to be at peace and happy despite your circumstance. I remember thinking as a child and all through life, if God takes care of the sparrows, he will take care of me. Here's some lines from the hymn--you probably know it:

"when Jesus is my portion
a constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
and i know he watches me
his eye is on the sparrow
and i know he watches me

i sing because i'm happy
i sing because i'm free
His eye is on the sparrow
and i know he watches me (he watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
and i know he watches
i know he watches
i know he watches me"

Renee said...

Oh Jan LYn
Thank you for sharing this song. It is a song I know but have not thought of very often lately. We know God has a plan for both of us and we try to live one day at a time. I am not always successful at being at peace but trying....trying....often what I write to to help myself at the same time!

Malva said...

Hi Renee
He is the God of the sparrows - he counted the hairs on your heads (as well as all the other things going on inside your bodies).
May the peace that passes all understanding be with you.

Renee said...

Thank you for your blessings, Malva.

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

Renee, I came to your site today from Sarah Dawn's. I was especially drawn to you, and your prayer request there, and of course the fact that you appear to be Iowans. (Me, too!) ... Not that I wouldn't pray for you were from Minnesota, or California, or Texas, or Arkansas, I'd pray for you then, too. Promise. :-)

The Lord just gave me a tug to venture this way, and I scrolled through your posts to find out more about what you're facing.

I prayed for you today. And I wanted to let you know.

Renee said...

Hello Jennifer
Thank you so much for stopping by and especially for your prayers. We are blessed by your obedience to God's nudge....
Yes, we live in Ia. NE, but in the center....MC to be exact. I will stop by your place too and visit!