James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (NKJV)

I will admit that I have not always been good at this. In fact, more often than not, I have found myself frustrated by my situation, searching for a way to get myself out of it rather than trusting God to do exactly that. In my head, I know that God is greater, that His plans are for my good and for His glory. I know that He will provide for me, care for me, heal me, and give me the wisdom I need to do as He says. I know this in my head, but my heart doesn’t always believe it.

Instead, I struggle in vain, tossed about like a tiny boat in a sea of storms, desperately trying to find the shore. Jesus, like a lighthouse, is standing on the shore, waiting for me to turn my eyes to Him. But foolishly, I trust myself rather than that light. When I finally give in and trust Jesus to guide me to safety, that’s exactly what He does.

My Lighthouse

A few months ago, I went through a very serious bout of depression. It has been a burden I have struggled with since I was fourteen, although I hadn’t experienced it so severely since that first time. That first time, I didn’t cling to Jesus like I should have. I found myself walking as though through a fog of darkness, blocking out the pain and damming up my emotions as though that would make me feel better. When I finally chose to trust Jesus, He guided me back to safety, just like the lighthouse.

This time was different. I have been going through a spiritual transformation the past few years. God has healed my heart, changed it, wrung out the bad and cleansed me of my sin. So this time, when the fog of darkness descended over me, I clung to Jesus. It didn’t make things okay, but as long as I kept my eyes on Him and kept moving through the darkness back towards the light, I could keep my head above water. He came through, He answered my prayers, once again pulling me out of my despair and changing my life.

Things were amazing after that. My health was the best it had ever been: I’m the thinnest I’ve been since reaching physical maturity, maybe even thinner than I was then (I have lost 62.5 pounds since November 14th), I was working out five times a week, I felt good, I was (and still am) eating healthy food that I enjoy. My life was good, too. I had just started my garden, my marriage is the healthiest it’s ever been, and I have a beautiful, sweet son who makes my life exciting and brings me happiness.

April 12th, I encountered another bump in the road. And I will admit, as much as I have tried to count it all joy, it has been so hard to cling to the hope given to us as sons and daughters of God.

The Storm

That morning, I woke up at 5:30 like I usually did. I weighed and looked in the mirror. I felt bloated, my face was swollen, although otherwise I felt alright so I proceeded to work out as normal. It was mostly a normal day. It was a Wednesday, so normally we would have gone to Family Fellowship, but we skipped church because a circuit had blown, causing half the lights in our house to go out. When my husband, JT, got home, I made dinner and he got in the attic to run a new circuit for the lights. While I was bathing our son, Cassian, I started to feel dizzy and weak. I had achy pain throughout my body, concentrated in my right arm, and I was swollen. The veins in my right arm swelled up, too. We got Cassian down to bed and I continued to experience symptoms, so I contacted JT’s father (an anesthesiologist) and asked if I should be concerned. He advised us to go to the hospital immediately, concerned that I had developed a blood clot.

We spent hours at the ER (poor Cassian was a good camper, despite being woken up and dragged to the ER until late that night), but they didn’t find a blood clot. I was advised to follow up with my primary care provider. About 12 hours later, I began having abdominal pain and lower back pain in addition to the other symptoms.

Since then, I have had extreme fatigue, dizzy spells, abdominal and lower back pain, headaches, body aches, shortness of breath, and I have collapsed multiple times. I have undergone a series of tests and seen multiple doctors. No one seems to have an answer.

My daily life is a struggle. JT has been so supportive and kind, taking time out of his busy schedule (he works a full time job and owns a small business on the side) to take care of me. I have been blessed to have many people checking in on me and praying for me.

Encouragement in Times of Trouble

Once again, I find myself in the midst of a storm. And though I am trying to cling to Jesus, I often find it hard to “count it all joy.” I have to remind myself over and over that God has a plan and that He will use my struggles for His glory. Some verses that have been helpful for me:

  • “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 – no matter what I go through, God is with me. I can count on Him to guide me through this.
  • “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” Psalm 145:18-19
  • “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise.” Jeremiah 17:14 – this one I have quoted to myself over and over again. I know I will be healed at the appropriate time. And although I do not always put faith in this truth, it is true all the same.
  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 – the Lord will restore my strength.

I wake up wondering how I could possibly get through the day, pray that God will give me the strength I need, and sure enough, He always provides for me. I don’t always act how I should – wondering ‘why’ and ‘what if we never find a solution’ – but in the moments when my faith is weak, He is still with me. He will never forsake me.

Whatever storm you are going through, He is with you. It isn’t easy to put your faith in Him – I know I am often lacking in that area myself – and it doesn’t negate your emotions or the pain you feel, but if you have faith even as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20). He will give you the strength to get through the day. And so long as you keep your eyes on the light of Jesus, He will guide you through the storm.

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