Ever feel like you take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back? Yes! I think all of us have. Whether that is in repairing relationships, building our careers, being a good parent, or making progress in our health.
After 5 years trapped in a dark room due to my brain injury, Lyme disease, and POTS all I’ve wanted was to have a semi normal life. Two years ago I got on a medicine that changed my life. I used to pass out if I sat up too long or if I stood up. But God used this medicine to change my life. My muscles had atrophied so I had to learn how to get out of the wheelchair and walk again. It’s been so exciting!!! But it’s also been incredibly frustrating. Every time I make some sort of progress I feel like life throws me a curveball. I imagine many of you also feel that way with whatever you’re going through.
I suppose a lot of my frustration stems out of my western mentality to plan my life, and watch my dreams come true. Then when they don’t I’m all thrown off. Instead of taking life as it comes I do everything I can to change my circumstances to line up with what I want. Now I feel incredibly grateful to have been born in America, a place where we are not just allowed to dream, but we are taught to dream. Knowing that you can work hard to achieve whatever type of life and goals you desire can be a beautiful thing. But when taken to the extreme it can be a prison that steals the joy out of our present day lives when we have not reached those dreams.
My parents were missionaries in India so my 4 siblings and I spent almost 5 years growing up over there. Most Indians believe they are born into a caste, and there is no changing it. You’re not allowed to dream of a better life, you are supposed to accept the caste and life you were born into. Sadly, poverty, illness, and tragedy strike them all the time.
Those considered in the lower castes are shocked when they find out that God Himself came down, was tortured, and died on a cross all so He could spend eternity with them!! They feel loved and shocked :)!! They are eternally grateful. When they commit their lives to Jesus there is no turning back. They are often persecuted, and killed for their faith. But within their trials, they are still amazed at the love of a God who died to be with them. They will follow Him and His ways of love, and forgiving their enemies through the tragedies striking them.
Here in America many of us are not blown away at Jesus dying on the cross for us. Instead we are blown away that a loving God would allow bad things to happen to us. We make wagers with Him and tell Him if He does “this or that” THEN we will follow Him. However, if something bad strikes us we throw our fists in the air telling God we hate Him and we turn our backs on Him. I often come across people that say, “If bad things happen then He is not a loving God. I am now an atheist.”
Sometimes we turn to other religions or philosophies that embrace “love and peace” not realizing that Jesus is the one who originally taught love, and a peace that surpasses understanding. He taught true love. He didn’t just teach loving friends and strangers. He didn’t just teach us to love those who have different beliefs. Jesus taught us to love people that put us down, hate us, make fun of us, and judge us. He taught us to lay our lives down for them. He didn’t just teach this with His words, but He led by example when He allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross for our sins so that ALL of us have a gift of eternity with Him if we want it. His love never ceases to amaze me :).
So as I continue to go on this healing journey I continue to have obstacles come my way. I started to walk and got planters fasciitis on both feet 2 years ago. I still have it. My oxygen drops so I often have to wear oxygen and stay home. I began to leave the house a little more and then I tore the meniscus in both knees. It’s painful, but annoying. Physical therapy can’t fix it. I need surgery. I’m not allowed to have surgery cause the anesthesia will set my brain injury back. A week ago I fell down bruising my ribs and tearing the cartilage in them. It will be at least a few months before they heal. Yesterday I bent over and hurt my back. It feels like one thing after the next. I always have nerve pain throughout my body but now I’ve added extra pain from all these injuries to my feet, knees, ribs, and back.
This morning I woke up in so much pain I could barely move. I felt like the heat had been turned up in my life. Satan is trying to discourage me. But as I think of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego I am encouraged. So as I lay in bed right now trying not to move I decided I’m not going to give into Satan’s lies of hopelessness. I’m going focus on what God’s doing, hang onto Him, and if I have to lay here in pain I can still type!!! So I’m going to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters out there!!
In the book of Daniel chapter 3 we read about Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego. If you haven’t heard this story these three Jews were taken captive into Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar decreed that everyone in Babylon bow down and worship a large golden idol he had built. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not. They couldn’t give into what society told them to do. They couldn’t comply with what everyone around them was doing. They were convicted that they were only to worship the one true God. Because of this King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they were to be thrown into a furnace to burn to death.
They were being persecuted for staying true to their faith. Nebuchadnezzar was so furious he ordered the furnace to be turned up 7 times hotter. These three men were bound and the soldiers threw them into the furnace. Actually the flames were so hot that the soldiers that threw them into the furnace died from getting too close.
But something very strange happened. When the three of them were thrown into the furnace they did not die. Instead Nebuchadnezzar all of a sudden saw not three men in the furnace, but a fourth figure with them. He ordered his servants to open the furnace and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out healthy and alive. The king was so moved by the miracle that just happened before him that he proclaimed that their God was indeed a God like no other.
The disciple Paul warned us in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:12) that our fight was not against the physical, it was against the spiritual. When we take a stand for love, for truth, for Jesus Christ, the devil often turns the heat up in our lives. Our families and friends betray and reject us. People make up lies about us. Finances struggle. Our health fails. Hopelessness sets in. All of the dreams we had shatter. This is the furnace in our lives being turned up 7 times hotter.
What the good news? Jesus is there with us in the furnace just as He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We might feel the heat, but if we hang onto Jesus through it we will not be destroyed. We will be a light to those around us that watch. You never know how God will use your life or circumstances to affect others.
It’s interesting to me how it’s often the most persecuted countries where Christianity is growing. Why? Because the light of these persecuted believer pierces the hearts of those watching around them. They see the truth and though they know they will be persecuted for it, they give up everything to follow Jesus. Why? Because as Jesus said in John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” When you truly understand how much God loves you, your life is forever changed. It is shattered. Your perceptions of everything are broken. You are humbled, you are hopeful, you are revived. That’s the effect Jesus has on us :).
As I said right now I’m lying here trying not to move because the pain is so bad. My furnace is being turned up, but Jesus is with me and I will stand for Him. I may be having trouble right now getting out of bed without someone’s help BUT I will not let that silence me from telling others the good news about Jesus Christ :). He is everything to me, and if none of my dreams ever come true that’s okay because the best thing already came true in my life- Accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It’s the best decision I ever made. It’s the hardest decision I ever made. But it’s also the easiest decision I ever made. 🙂
Whatever you’re going through do not lose hope. I know it feels like it’s just one hurdle after the next!! Even when you make some progress you fall down again. But God is with you and whether or not your dreams come true He can make your life count. He can make each day wonderful. It won’t be easy. But when we spend time with Him, we see everything more clearly. The things that mattered start to fall away and our spirit starts to be at peace. Don’t give up. Keep going. You’ve come this far. Yes, trials have happened. But remind yourself of everything in your life God HAS brought you through. You are still alive and kicking!! 🙂
So no matter how high the heat is turned up let’s stand. Let’s stand with Jesus. Let’s shine. Let’s hold onto Him. He is with us. So turn up the heat devil, we’re gonna stand and shine for the Savior and Lord who died and rose again for us!!!
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”