“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34, NIV).
For the past seven months, I have spent approximately 213 days, 5110 hours, 306,600 minutes, and 18,410,000 seconds in critical pain that has controlled my life for much too long. After graduating from college in May, I was disturbed when ten job interviews and countless applications later, I began to experience severe health conditions that left me feeling just shy of paralyzation. But this was the time of my life, right? I was not supposed to be feeling this way fresh out of college when for the first time in five years, I was allowed to breathe, move forward, adult. Yet in my slew of anxiety, panic attacks, and restlessness, here I was.
Day after day, what started as simple constipation quickly grew into a daily, agonizing pain in which I could barely function. Between the stress of trying to figure out what I was to do with my life, maintain a relationship, make money over the summer, and figure out this adulting lifestyle, my mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual life began to suffer…BIG TIME.
After about a month of initial pain, I sought help from my Doctor, who gave me some things to try. Still, it was not until two months further that I was finally seen by a gastrointestinal specialist who would schedule me for a colonoscopy that also wouldn’t take place until three months later. So I waited, and waited, and waited some more to the point where I honestly thought I was going to die of stomach pain.
I researched diagnoses, medical conditions, cures, and helpful foods to eat or avoid. I analyzed exercise techniques, yoga remedies, and posture positions. I even reached out to health coaches and sought advice from people I trusted (many who just told me it was in my head), all of which landed myself in the ER three times after not being able to go for over two weeks. Being in such intense suffering, it was apparent that there was nothing I could do until I figured out what was wrong with me. Yet my mind didn’t agree with this concept. Thus, I began to realize how worried and troubled my spirit had become.
Because for the past seven months, every single day was a constant battle in my mind to fight the pain. I would wake up starving and then cry because I wanted to eat, but every single thing I did would cause me immediate pain. Even with the medications, I was put on, nothing was working, and I began to lose hope. I began to listen to the lies of people who said I “Didn’t want to get well,” “Was anorexic,” “Lucky that I was thin and couldn’t gain weight,” “Didn’t have it worse,” “Wasn’t sick and just making it up in my mind,” “Just needed to pray and trust God more,” and to be honest, that hurt. It hurt to have people I knew and trusted say such things to me that tore me down instead of encouraging me in my anguish.
However, going to the Lord in prayer about these concerns as I had time after time, I began to realize that just as much as others weren’t giving me the advice and support I needed, I wasn’t entirely leaving these things in Christ’s hands as His Word commands us.
And I wept. I wept because for the first time in my life, when I read Matthew 6:25-34 like I had as a little girl, I heard, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink…” and fell to my knees in repentance. For although I’d given God my worries, anxieties, depression, and fears about relationships, family, school, grades, perfection, OCD, etc., I’d never stopped to think about giving Him complete control of the food I put into my body. A simple concept, but yet it was something I had failed to realize.
Scripture even tells us in Matthew 4:4, that, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” and that became my anthem (Matthew 4:4, CSB). So, every morning, before I would try to eat, I began to pray and declare that word over me. That God was going to be in control, and I trusted Him to heal me from the inside out. And didn’t I feel better immediately? No. In fact, for some time, my pain got worse the closer I got to my colonoscopy date, but I pressed on because I believed (and still believe) in the God of miracles.
Now into November, it has been almost a month since my procedure took place, and I was given a diagnosis that my condition was not in my head, but an actual defect with my internal organs. Fifty-plus hours later, without food, I was officially identified with IBS-C, a possible condition of endometriosis, and a tortured colon (my small intestine was so closed off that the Doctor could not even get the scope in it to see anything further). Primarily caused by one of my biggest enemies, internal genetic anxiety had taken its reign. As the Doctor then continued to explain my results, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself that of all things, my pain and suffering were due to something I have struggled with my entire life, along with stress and an inability to maintain that stress healthily.
Two weeks after the procedure, I continued to pray (and still pray) for God to heal this condition with an unknown cure. Though I was still in pain, I hoped to see the light at the end of the tunnel, for “Even when I can’t see it you’re working” (Waymaker; Michael W. Smith). Nearing the end of my week, I then attended a worship night where a group of people prayed over me, and I got to hear the story of a girl with a very similar condition to myself. On top of all that, you would never believe it, but the theme for that night was peace and healing from anxiety and worry.
Since those dates, it is presently November 11th, 2019, and while I’d like to say that I am no longer in pain, and God has healed me 100% of my condition, that wouldn’t be the truth. But am I worried about what I can and cannot eat, or what people think about my health every single second of every day? Not as much. And though I still struggle to give God all of this issue, it is a process that I am working to get better at daily.
As the days go on, I realize more and more that in due time, God will heal me. I believe that as those at the worship night prayed over me, “God loves you,” “He isn’t punishing you,” “You aren’t to learn something from this suffering,” “You haven’t done anything wrong to deserve this,” “He’s fighting for you, but we live in a sinful and fallen world.” As opposed to the defeating lies and discouraging remarks that so many poured into my mind, thinking they were helping me. I recognize that this fight is not my own, but one of the powers of the dark world (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). I surrender that though the struggle is very much real, God will continue to fight for me, and He calls me to be still (Exodus 14:14, NIV). I remember that He is a good God of true promises and always keeps His word. And I mourn over the fact that Jesus chose to suffer for me, so I can rest assured He would never want me to bear that same anguish, for He does not delight in my suffering.
In the book of John, chapter 9, verse 3, there is a man that was born blind, whom the people question Jesus for who’s sins he is suffering. Yet when Jesus remarks, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him,” they almost shudder at His boldness (John 9:3, NIV). Similarly, Elizabeth and Zechariah, one of the Godliest couples in Scripture who couldn’t have children, realize that this misfortune took place so that their son John (The Baptist), would go on to lead the way for this same Jesus. Account after account, many stories in the Bible tell of those who suffered and went through things, but they always came out stronger in faith on the other side. So although no, I don’t believe that I am to “learn a lesson” from my pain, I do proclaim that Christ will draw me closer to Him and more rooted in faith through the process.
I can hear the Father whisper, “Don’t cha worry, Don’t cha worry, child,” for He sees and knows my tears.
He has felt my pain; He has held my hands.
He has comforted my soul and fought against those lies.
So yes, my pain still exists.
It’s still real.
It’s a struggle every single day.
But you know what? So is my God who fights for me as those seconds on the clock turn into minutes, hours, and days and He won’t stop now. He’s more significant than my pain because my life is of more value to Him than the food and drink I have given too much power, time, and thought.
What are you battling today, friend? Be encouraged; He’s fighting for you.