Struggle, struggle, struggle. I am beginning to think this is my middle name. Not only am I struggling to feel joy, but I am struggling to come up with anything to write about. I just don’t feel the spirit leading me in that way. I also think I have so much going-on I am definitely compartmentalizing my mind and my activities. Market days are ahead and I am low on inventory. Low is actually an understatement. I don’t have anything! Trying to work around sickness, church, family time, family members with covid, and more personal sickness. To me, household chores are consuming enough. Then you add on a craft business and wham! I am thinking, “What are you doing?” Not to mention my book and my blog, and another book sitting in the files of the computer waiting for attention and the holy spirit to guide me forward. In the midst of all this I feel overwhelmed, I feel pressure, I feel a need to perform at my best. The one thing I am trying to concentrate on instead is gratefulness.
I am so blessed beyond what I deserve, but I am constantly getting overwhelmed and lost in the sickness and pressures of life. Everyday I never know what to expect, and this expectation scares me. Will I be hurting today, or sick to my stomach? Will I be depressed and not motivated, or anxious and can’t sit still? These are just a couple examples of the questions I constantly roll over in my mind as I open my eyes to face the day. Every day, I try to push them aside and concentrate on the blessings I have. Trying to stir up some emotion. Any emotion, to feel something other than the all-consuming dread of what I may face today that is not pleasant. As I do this day after day, I realize that counting my blessing isn’t the problem. Being thankful is not the problem. What if the problem might be understanding the goodness of God? In the midst of all my pain, suffering, and blessings how can I grasp the concept that God is good all the time? How can I reach up and grasp hope without crashing when my hopes don’t come to fruition? These are the true questions that are keeping my focus in the midst of my struggling.
As I search for answers, I have found there are a couple of core beliefs that I have mixed up in my mind. I believe these core beliefs are part of my problem. The first one is, if God truly loved me, he would not be giving me this trial, and if he truly cared he would deliver me from it. Second one is, if I don’t control my sickness, I am not going to live that long and it will be my fault. So, with these beliefs, I dig into my bible and look for validation in it. Is this way of thinking accurate to how things are and how God is? These are the verses that brought clarity to me.
James 1:13-14 Let no man say when he is tempted (facing a trial), I am tempted of (from) God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he drawn away of his own lust (desires), and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
I am going to break down my scenario using this verse. Its like solving a riddle using the word of God as a guide.
Tempted/ facing a trial- My trial is my multiple sicknesses. I don’t like to talk about my health issues, but I would like to give you a glimpse of how it can be all consuming for me. I struggle with Ulcerative colitis, Interstitial cystitis, Migraines, Sjogrens syndrome, Complex post traumatic stress disorder, depression, chronic thrush, and insomnia. Everything I eat can either make these worse or better, yet each illness has its own diet to follow. By the time I get done crossing off the list of things I can’t eat, I am left with very little that won’t sustain me. Trust me I have tried! Not only am I struggling with pain and other annoying issues with each illness, every time I eat, I face the fear of the consequence it may have.
Drawn away of his own lust- My lust or my desire is to not be sick. To not face the struggle that illness can play in my life every day. To avoid pain, fatigue, starvation, anxiety, and depression. To look for a cure and to find the right diet that will be healing and sustain me without symptoms. To take responsibility for my health and gain some control of it all.
Lust hath conceived- When I fall into the role of trying to control, I am neck deep in my lust/desire to not be sick and even deeper in the trap of avoidance. Avoid food, avoid situations, avoid people, avoid anything that will make my illnesses increase in intensity. The trap of avoidance is an all-consuming pit of despair and leaves you feeling hopeless. The more control I think I have, the more faith I put in myself, in the next medicine, in the next doctor’s visit, leaves me in a never ending roller coaster of emotions.
Bringeth forth sin- The sin, I believe, is the dwelling on the problem and a solution. Dwelling on the avoidance, dwelling on my diet, dwelling on my suffering and pain. The funny thing is when I looked for the definition for dwelling this is what came up: A place where someone lives. A house or structure in which someone lives. Where your attention and focus are directed. Not only am I constantly making my bed in the midst of my struggle, but I am constantly focused and have my attention there.
And sin when it is finished bringeth forth death- sin without repentance bringeth forth death. I believe that when you ask for forgiveness of your sins and acknowledge God as the giver of life and Jesus as the sacrifice for sin, then your soul is sealed and there is nothing that can take you away from God and your place in heaven; but I also believe that Satan’s goal for all people is to pull their focus away from God, away from growing in him, away from witnessing what God has done for them. Most importantly he wants you to question God and doubt his ways. Especially as a non-believer looking for answers. As I get stuck in my desire for control and my entire focus is on my circumstance, then my focus is not on God or our relationship. My focus is on me and only me. My desire for relief becomes so strong and consuming it takes up every spare moment I have. I struggle to get past the noise in my head and truly focus on my relationship with God and what he can do for me instead of the fleshly pain I am in. I especially get lost in it when I continue to struggle day after day and God does not seem to answer my prayers.
Every Good and perfect gift comes from above- God’s good and perfect gift from above is not the same good and perfect gift we think it is. We think that Gods good and perfect gifts are answered prayers, health, financial stability, spiritual feeling of wholeness, and consistent joy. These are the things I always thought were true. It brings me back to those core beliefs I have. If God loves me, he would not give me this trial and if you cared he would deliver me. Verse 13 states… Let no man say when he is tempted (facing a trial), I am tempted of (from) God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man… Trials do not come from God. Trials come from living in this sinful world and dealing with our own personal desires. Satan knows our desires and he has the power to place obstacles, thoughts, and people in our path to deter us and lead us astray. Yet, inside the trial and circumstance, God has a good and perfect gift that I never understood until now.
What is this good and perfect gift you ask? The gifts we receive from God our not necessary to sustain our physical desires, but to fill our emotional and spiritual needs. Gods main focus is the salvation and spiritual growth of our souls. Everything God does is for our benefit in these areas. Satan’s goal is to use all his power to attack you and distract this from happening. When we are consumed with our struggle, we see the pain and daily grind of pushing through it, while God sees the growth in character and fruits it is producing. What is also amazing is the other great gifts God has given us to help us through these difficult times.
His son as a sacrifice for our sins- John 3:16
His word the Bible that has 8,810 promises directed to man and speaks to us-Psalm 119:105
A church family and others to pray and help us gain perspective-John 4:12
An abundance of mercy that is new every morning- Lamentations 3:22-23
The Holy Spirit as a comforter so we are not alone- John 14:26
A heavenly home to look forward to- John 14:1-6
Through trials comes hope of deliverance and growth- James 1:2-4
Endless forgiveness-Psalm 103:10-14
An abundance of Gods grace and strength in the midst of our weakness- 2 Corinthians 12:9
The list goes on and on, but these are just a few to know the love that God has for you is real and the gifts he wants for you are everlasting. Just think about that. God’s gifts are everlasting and will sustain us! His gifts are everything we need to make it through this world. The only thing we needed is for us to trust and believe in them.