Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dark Places

Psalm 143:3-4 "For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in dark places...
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed."

That's sure how it feels some days, doesn't it?  

Dealing with CI day after day is wearing on the spirit.  Some days it is hard not to feel abandoned or isolated or discouraged or alone in the dark.  

And, you can be sure, the enemy of our soul is quick to take advantage of it. Innocent remarks by someone will seem sinister or accusatory - we start to get prickly or short-tempered - which, of course, we seek to excuse because we "are having a bad day".  It's all too easy to fall into self-pity or, on the other hand, snap at people "who can't possibly understand what it feels like."

I agree that most folks can't understand what it feels like - but God can.  He chose this path for us, whether we want to admit it or not.  In my case, CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome or ME/Myalgic Encephalitis in the UK) is just beginning to find acceptance and respect.  Many people say to me "Oh, I was soooo tired yesterday I didn't know what to do. I know how you feel."  

No, you don't know how I feel.  The fatigue I have is so deep it in itself is pain - and it doesn't go away after a good night's sleep - because I never get a good night's sleep.  If I'm fortunate I get a 4 hour block somewhere in the night, but mostly I awaken every hour or two.  My brain gets so muddled sometimes, I find myself lost on familiar streets that suddenly are no longer familiar.  My head pounds, feeling as if it exploded, or someone kicked me in the head - sometimes throbbing, sometimes as though my head is in a vise, slowly crushing me. It feels like an iron bar runs just behind my eyes, from temple to temple - and sometimes the sensation is so real I feel like I could reach up and grab it.  And fluorescent lights, which everybody from dentist to doctor has in their office, are guaranteed to ignite a headache in an instant. My muscles ache so deeply it's all I can do to climb the stairs to bed.  My bedroom is a mess because I climb those stairs carrying something and put it down "just for a second" until I'm strong enough to deal with it - and I'm never strong enough.  So layer after layer accumulates, like an archaeological dig!

It's overwhelming sometimes, isn't it? I know some of you deal with problems far more severe than mine - and my heart goes out to you. Many times I feel fortunate to have so little to deal with.

So, where is God in all of this?  

If He is the One Who chose this for each of us, knowing exactly how much we can bear, and not trying us more than we are able (1Cor 13:10) - and He is - where do we find the strength and courage we need to deal with it?

Just 2 Psalms over, in 145:14, God says to us, "The LORD upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down."  CI is certainly capable of causing us to be bowed down ( and the enemy of our soul is sure to grasp the situation and try to tempt us to fall).  

And again in Ps. 145:17-19  "The LORD is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works.  The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth...  He will hear their cry and save them."

So here God is telling us that His way is righteous and His works are gracious - including His choice of paths for us, including CI.  How do I know this?  Because the Word of God tells me that all His ways are righteous, all His ways are gracious.

How many?


And all means "all". Not "some".  Not "all except for the ones I don't like" ( and I really don't like my CI - grin!)

It is not contingent upon my approval of His plans for me.  I, the leaky, cracked, dirty ol' pot cannot say to my Potter "Why have you made me thus?" or, in the colloquial, "Why me?"

God has a plan for our lives.  He has chosen for our plan to include CI - and He knows what He wants to accomplish with it.  CI affects not only us, but the ones who surround us, the doctors who treat us, the family who loves us, the friends who pray with us, the ones who watch us - and don't kid yourself, people watch us all the time to see how we handle adversity. Have you ever thought He might be using your illness to teach others, to do a work in their lives?

And these verses show us how God intends for us to bear it - He will uphold us, raise us up, be near us, hear our cry and save us. He is working in the lives of all who know us, and He is using our CI to do it!  Stop and think for a moment about how your CI has changed the lives of those around you.  I know those around me have learned patience (...ahem) and I have seen them become more generous, more compassionate, more giving - and I know they pray more. In His graciousness, He is blessing others through my path.
Just think about that for a moment.

So if the enemy is persecuting your soul these days, and you find yourself in one of those dark places, remember He is upholding you, and He is near enough to hear your cries and save you.  And always remember that, besides those who surround you on earth, Someone Else is watching you.  

This Someone is not watching to catch you slipping up, to criticize or judge you.  This Someone died in your place, paid for each sin  you have or will ever commit (and He knows them all.) 

When the enemy of your soul taunts God with accusations of His children, perhaps He is saying of you as He said of Job: "Have you considered my servant ______ (insert your name here)"  The CI that so haunts us and rules our days may be the very background upon which we shine for our Master, proving that we do not love Him for what He can give us; proving that we value His gifts less than we value the Giver; proving that even though we do stumble and mess up and fall flat on our faces, we get up, dust ourselves off, and continue on the narrow road for love of Him.

And how glorious that would be - to someday stand before Him and learn that all the while we thought the suffering endless and useless, He was glowing with joy that through the power of the Blood and the Holy Spirit, in His Name we became more than conquerors.

Press on, dear one, press on!


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