I wasn’t even supposed to look at Facebook. I was away on a personal retreat; just God, me and my journal. No electronics, those are the rules (and everyone knows how I love the rules) but I couldn’t sleep so I peeked. Guilty.
Facebook “memories” reminded me that 6 years ago today my hubby and I spoke at church. He did most of the speaking (shocker) and I gave a brief talk about prayer; I didn’t explain how to pray (I’m pretty horrible at it). I didn’t even share a fascinating story about an answered prayer. I testified about your prayers and just in case you’re unaware of the impact your prayers have had, please keep reading.
At that time, unbeknownst to us, we were just about half way through a medical nightmare. We were over 4 years in and we still didn’t know what we were dealing with. My hubby would experience episodes of excruciating pain that no doctor from Mayo to Johns Hopkins was able fix. We only received a diagnosis in 2013; Chronic Pain Syndrome. CPS, unlike Chronic Pain, has unclear etiology which makes it extremely difficult to diagnose. Due to the fact that he had no diagnosis, he was often judged a drug seeker, humiliated for not being mentally stronger and even refused treatment.
As a result my sober, charismatic, outgoing husband slowly turned into a shell of the person I married. He suffered from anxiety, depression, vertigo, nausea, insomnia and other ailments in conjunction with these pain episodes; when he wasn’t in pain you can be sure one of the other ailments was not far behind. There were times he experienced a bit of a reprieve due to a new treatment or medicine, however the pain always returned. It was relentless. Stressful. Exhausting. It crushed our dreams, left us perplexed and snatch a once vibrant life right out from under us. Our circumstances strained our relationship with God, friends and as you can imagine, with each other.
I remember early on taking a walk; which I often do to clear my head. It was brisk with heavy feet and boy was I giving God a piece of my mind. I was frustrated, confused, hurting and I needed Him to know (just in case He wasn’t already aware). I’m sure I was being anything but gracious as I spewed my ultimatums and accusations at Him. Shew, thank goodness for grace. I was in mid-rant when I felt His words my heart “this is about prayer and marriage”. Screeeeech, I sloooowed myyyy rooooll hoping not to miss whatever else He was sure to say. Unfortunately, the only thing I heard was the pitter patter of my tennis shoes on the asphalt. The gentle whisper of God came and went as quickly as a summer breeze. He faithfully answered my irreverent tirade though and in typical God-fashion He didn’t feel pressed to reveal any extra details. You know, like HOW or WHAT He said was supposed to mean. I find it amusing that I still expect specifics from Him after all these years, I know He doesn’t give them to me because that wouldn’t require any faith on my part.
So when asked to share a bit of our story at church, I didn’t really know what I’d say. I honestly had no idea why we were going through what we were but I just kept thinking about that time I felt God’s voice. Yep, we were still married that was true, however, I sure wasn’t setting the prayer world on fire. I still couldn’t shake the thought though. I came across a passage in 2 Corinthians were Paul was talking about suffering and comfort and how because God comes along side of us in our sufferings we can in turn do that for others (basically God will use whatever we are going through to encourage others). Paul was speaking about the persecution he was experiencing in his ministry for following Jesus but his choice of words resonated with me. Suffering. Distress. Great pressure. Beyond the ability to endure. Despaired of life. Feeling sentenced to death. You’re probably thinking, wow that is some extreme verbiage, are you sure you’re not being melodramatic? In response I’d say; get back to me after you’ve experienced a long-term hardship of feeling helplessness. Right or wrong. Faith or unbelief. Reality or drama. It was where we were. Judge us if you will.
Paul doesn’t stop there though, he goes on to say.
On Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Cor. 1:10b-11).
This was the verse I shared with our church family 6 years ago today. There is no better way to wrap up Thanksgiving weekend but than to give thanks to the Lord for the gracious favor He has granted us. Tom has been pain-free, depression-free, and vertigo-free for just shy of 2 years. This is a result of your prayers, you’re the reason we survived our deadly peril. You prayed when we no longer could, when we were too distressed, when we had passed our capacity to endure.
THANK YOU and thank the Lord with us today.