"May it be to me as you have said."
A quote from Mary in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verse 38.
It's easy for me to read Scripture without letting it sink in sometimes. Then I am on to the next thing. Sometimes I don't even read it.
This morning I was wondering what to post about. Another recipe? Certainly easier than thinking deeply about the Scripture. However, I am feeling that the season necessitates a bit more meditation on my part.
The above quote from Luke is from a reading from our Advent celebrations, which you can read more about in my post about Slowing Down for Christmas. This is what Mary said just after has been told by the angel Gabriel that she, though a virgin, is pregnant by the Holy Spirit and will give birth to a son whose name will be Jesus.
I have been thinking a lot recently about embracing suffering. If you are anything like me you typically run away from it, try to find a way out of it, complain about it, ask for prayer for it to be removed from you.
Not that there is anything wrong with praying for a burden to be taken away; even the Apostle Paul prayed for the thorn in his flesh to be removed from him (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
But sometimes (always) we just need to embrace what God has allowed into our lives.
- Running away
- finding a way out and
are not helpful solutions.
How many times a day do I need to hear this reminder?
It isn't promised anywhere that we will be without suffering here on Earth. In fact, we are told that if we are Christ's followers, we are to expect suffering (2 Timothy 3:12). And from what I have seen, Christ's followers or not, there is plenty of suffering in the world to go around.
Two particular areas of suffering have been especially hard for me to embrace
- my son's autism and
- my health issues.
First, when my son's behavior became so difficult almost overnight, I spent hours upon hours scouring the internet for answers. I was looking for help, for a diagnosis, for healing.
For anything that might get me out of the nightmare that I was living in.
He was having up to 30 tantrums / panic attacks daily and some of them lasted for hours.
I was trapped in my home and there were seemingly no answers.
Friends weren't much help. Part of that was because we didn't share much with others.
However, when we did share, we were often the recipients of parenting tapes (that we not helpful) or comments such as,
"When are you going to get out of crisis mode? Your child might never get any better!"
or encouragement to put our son in school or "get some time away."
None of these addressed the real problem, however.
Our. Son. Was. Sick.
These days, accepting my son's autism means that I have to accept his high level of anxiety, though I am still working on supporting him naturally.
I also have to accept his social awkwardness that is at times extremely embarrassing.
Accepting my health issues has been just as difficult for me. I had numerous health concerns as a child, but for a good stretch of my adult life, I was, in my husband's words, "healthy as a horse."
I would run 8 miles at a time with him along Lake Michigan, ate a lean, almost completely-vegetarian diet, and didn't smoke or drink alcohol.
I didn't realize what was lurking beneath the surface. More on all of that later.
I ended up with severe chronic fatigue (for lack of a better term) some time around March of 2009. The fatigue has been nothing short of "bone crushing."
On bad days I would lie on the couch, unable even to read a book to our youngest son. I felt that life was not worth living because there was very little enjoyment of anything.
On days when fatigue started to break, I sat with tears in my eyes as I came to the realization that I could actually enjoy spending time with my family again. Oh, what things we take for granted!
We still have a long way to go in both arenas--my health and my son's autism. Neither of us may ever be healed.
But this is, though it is such a mystery in some way, as the Lord said. Mary had to deal with being pregnant out of wedlock--a huge scandal in her day.
She was at risk of great humiliation in her culture. Her fiance might have deserted her and almost did.
I have to daily accept what I have been handed, trusting God that he is in control and knows what is best for me.
- I suffer when people think that my restricted diet is something that I have chosen just so that I can be thin.
- I suffer embarrassment in my soul when people stare at us when our son has an anxiety attack in public.
- I suffer financial difficulties because autism is not covered by insurance in my state. Our family typically spends over $5,000 per year on mine and our son's health issues, and that is not the half of what we would spend if we had more resources.
- I suffer the loss of friendships with those who do not understand our peril. They make judgments and sometimes accusations.
Somehow, I must hold onto the Lord and trust.
Trust that He is good and that He is doing a good thing through these trials. Out of the great pains of childbirth comes the wonder of a new life.
Through the pains of the suffering of Christ on the cross came the forgiveness of sins. I may never know all of what my suffering might be used for, but I must accept.
Truthfully, in this life, I have already seen some of what God seems to have had in mind. I have gained the friendships of others with whom I would never have had contact were it not for our particular struggles.
I have shared some of what I have learned and hopefully have been a source of encouragement and help to others who struggle as well. I hope that I can be a help to someone who is reading this now.
Oh, that my pain might be a source of refuge for someone else.
Oh, that I might say to the Lord, "May it be to me as you have said."
What has encouraged you during times of suffering?