Four years of knowing that something was wrong with my body, but not knowing what it was.
Four years of emergency room visits and doctor’s appointments, only to be told that though the (many different) physician(s) could see the problem – they could not identify the causes. Sometimes, they couldn’t even see the problem.
Four years of deteriorating muscle and joint capability.
Four years of feeling like others thought I was making up an inexplicable illness.
Four years of unidentifiable pain, neurological symptoms, respiratory problems, and arthritic issues. At its worse, I began losing my hair from the scalp, and was regularly seeing a physical therapist. The many symptoms were attributed to a variety of unclear musculoskeletal diagnoses.
Four years, an incredibly short amount of time, can seem like an eternity under the right – or wrong – set of circumstances.
It took four years for the doctors to finally diagnose me with systemic lupus erythematous, better known as simply, Lupus. I now know that this is typical experience for individuals diagnosed with Lupus. But then, I didn’t know anyone who had Lupus.
When I was finally diagnosed, I was almost relieved just to know I wasn’t crazy.
And then the reality of my situation kicked it.
I had Lupus. I had an autoimmune disease.
People die from autoimmune diseases.
And then a single, terrifying thought appeared, challenging everything I thought I knew about faith.
I could die.
It was sobering, scary, and life-changing.
So, I did what I typically did with scary situations.
I ran and hid.
I ignored it. I didn’t know how to rectify what I believed about my God, with what I was now being told by my physicians. I didn’t understand how my God, a loving, good, and gracious God could allow me to have Lupus. Though trying to live faithfully, I had experienced so much personal pain during the years prior, and now – now this!
After everything that I had been through, I was now being asked to endure Lupus.
Though I surmised that I might have succumbed to more than a little self-pity, I did not care. I had suffered more than I felt anyone should, and everything within me screamed: “This Is Not Fair!”
To those around me it seemed that I didn’t really care. Things are often not as they seem. Perhaps, I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter. But it did matter. Despite what it looked like to those on the outside, inside, my whole world shifted.
At the beginning, I struggled in faith – a lot. I examined my situation over and over for clues to my future. Questions tumbled endlessly around in my mind. Despite what appeared to be superwoman composure, frightful scenarios swirled about my head, until I was dizzy with spiritual and mental exhaustion.
I was supposed to believe God for complete healing. Right?
What happened if I wasn’t completely healed? Did that mean that God didn’t want to heal me?
Maybe the lack of healing meant I wasn’t standing on faith? Was there doubt in my heart? Was doubt keeping me from my healing?
What did it say about my God, if I wasn’t healed?
Was I supposed to accept an outcome that didn’t include healing? If I did that, had I given up on a walk of faith?
Would that prevent my healing?
In the most hidden corner of my soul, I wept bitterly at my plight.
It felt like a cruel, harsh joke. I struggled to see God as a compassionate, loving, gracious Father.
It often seemed surreal. Sometimes, it still doesn’t seem real, especially if it is in remission. But then life happens, and the Lupus flares. The fatigue begins, and is soon followed by pain, fever, swelling, night sweats, hair loss, depression, migraines, infections and ulcers, and suddenly it can not be avoided: I have Lupus. It is then that I am forced to look at my situation, and choose the road that I will travel.
Will I choose fear, all but mentally declaring the worst possible outcome in the name of ‘preparation’?
Will I choose a pseudo faith? To onlookers, it’s almost indistinguishable, but in fact is little more than an avoidance of, and refusal to accept, my circumstances.
Or will I choose faith? Soul crunching, heart-rending, nose to the grindstone faith that requires me to face my situation head on. Faith that demands an unflinching determination to choose to believe that God’s answer is the best answer, because God loves me and I trust that His will for me is good.
a most holy faith that is born of our greatest and most personal places of surrender. These are plots in our journey, designed as divine appointments with our Savior, that change us forever, and teach us what it means to glory in our suffering.
For when we choose to glory in our suffering, we also choose perseverance, and through the door of perseverance we can choose godly character, and through the door of godly character we arrive at hope.
Hope brings to our remembrance the faithfulness of God, as a single beacon of light, breaking through the darkness of our loneliest, blackest night. An inextinguishable flame, hope guides us through dangerous waters and deadly terrain until we’ve reached the safety of our journey’s end.
Hope drives us to press on, though the wind presses so heavy against our chest that each breath feels as if it could be our last.
Hope fills us with new strength when we have taken all that we know how, and are almost ready to willingly fall down in a fetal position, cover our heads, and cry out “no more!” Instead new power, His power, overflows from within us, compelling and enabling us not only to stand, but also to embrace and steady others, so that they can stand as well.
Hope in God never disappoints.
As I move forward on this journey called life, I will continue to face trials. I may even continue to face Lupus, but of this I am sure: the almighty God is on my side. He knows what is best for me and I trust Him. Because I have learned that He loves me. And His will for me is good.
For further study: Romans 5:1-5
For prayer on this topic, visit today’s Daily Hope & a Prayer devotional.
A Final Note: I have been blessed to receive an amazing outpouring of love, concern and support since this post was published. After reviewing, I realize that I had not established that I have had the diagnosis for five years now. The Lupus is currently managed through medication and only mildly active. My prayers and purpose for sharing this post was born from my experience with a faithful, powerful God which compels me to share my reason for hope to others. Blessings to you! – xoxo, Letetia
Throughout the week, the Your Story Page is open to anyone who wishes to share their story of hope and grace with someone who may waiting to hear it. Simply enter your story into the form, with any other information that you may like to share. If you are a blogger, writer or have a website, feel free to leave your website URL for the readers to connect with you later. Then, on Hope-Day Wednesday, individual stories will be added to the Our-Stories page in order to offer hope and encouragement to someone who may need it.
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Hope Day Wednesday: Share Your Story
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