"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God may be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:1-5
These words Jesus and His disciples spoke in the gospel of John, came rushing back to me this past Sunday as Pastor Matt was preaching his sermon. When Pastor Matt spoke of obedience not guaranteeing a smooth life, free of hard times and “rough sailing,” the Lord brought back to mind the period in our life that I began to experience health problems in January 2001.
Just a few months prior, in October of 2000 we had moved into an apt. so that Ron could concentrate on his seminary classes. Ron had felt called to become a marriage counselor and we viewed that call as a springboard for the Lord to use and send us wherever He willed for us to go. When we moved into the apt. we freed ourselves of debt and a lot of material belongings we had accumulated over the years and made the move. We were excited and Ron was doing very well in his classes. Then in January 2001, BOOM...my symptoms began and I started going to doctors, doctors, and more doctors.
At four months into this, a Rheumatologist diagnosed me as having Fibromyalgia. At that time, I was working at our former church full time for the first time in years, but in May of 2001 I had to resign due to my illness. The church staff were more than gracious through that period and I am forever grateful for that. I tried several months later to come back in a part time capacity, and once again I had to choose to resign as I was not physically able to perform my duties.
But beyond the physical struggles I was facing, more importantly to me was the spiritual aspect of what was happening. My first thought was that it was from the enemy of our souls.
Ron and I had started a marriage reconciliation ministry at our church in 1999, Ron was pursuing his degree at Seminary and I was in a very fulfilling secretarial position at our church. All this in pursuit, we believed, of following the Lord in obedience. Then BOOM! Illness struck. So, I reasoned that the enemy was trying to stop us and keep us from doing God's will.
I was fervently searching God at that point as to try and make sense of what was happening and then BOOM...I came across John 9, verses 1-3 especially. “Why was this man born blind, did he sin or his parents sin cause his blindness?” The Lord answered His disciples, (yet He was answering ME as well) “NO ONE sinned, not him and not his parents. It was for the purpose of displaying God's glory in his life.”
So there it was, I had my answer. It was for God's glory to be displayed in my life that He allowed my illness. BOOM.
Deep down I had this feeling of condemnation (that WAS from the enemy). God was not displeased with me...punishing me. Those feelings stemmed from my flawed thinking that I had done my part (obedience) so why wasn't God? Thus the parallel with Pastor Matt's sermon. The Lord revealed to me my legalistic view of my circumstance and who God is and how He operates in relationship with His children.
How freeing that was, how humbling that was. It not only gave me my answer, it gave me a direction and a purpose for what we were experiencing. I say we, because my illness has not only affected me, but it has affected everyone around me, our girls and Ron especially. Ron says that Fibromyalga is not life threatening, but it IS life altering. As usual, he has a way of expressing things in an eloquent manner.
Ron subsequently withdrew from Seminary when it looked as if this was going to be a long term journey for us. He says that I am His primary ministry now. I do love that man so! From the time the Lord revealed His truth to me in late April of 2001 to present, I have been given a new perspective. The perspective of giving God glory through ALL of our circumstances. Not based on my behavior, but on His grace and perfect will for us. I accept that. I embrace that! My prayer is that each one of us experience that same grace in our lives that God so freely gives us!
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