Dear friend, I am trying two new things: using a short story form and splitting long blog posts into parts. So, laying aside my earlier hesitations and trusting God, here we go! Woo hoo and go God!
This short story/blog post series shows:
(1) How God used Proverbs 4:20-23 last week to heal me physically when nothing else worked. Proverbs 4:20-23 in a nutshell is that God’s Word is medicine for our bodies IF we take it as He says.
(2) A personal experience of the benefits of affliction. As Psalms 119 says (verse 67) “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey Your Word.” and (verse 71) “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
Affliction in body and mind. “You know, Lord, this is going great! In a few more days, we might get this finished. Thank You!”
I rocked gently in my chair. The softest whisper of wind stirred the branches outside the window. Midmorning sun dappled through the top-most branches. Gentle light illumined some leaves a bright, new grass green, leaving shadowed leaves varying shades of jade.
Holy Spirit and I had worked on this booklet about affliction, which had grown to be a small book, for two months. As I had dug deeply into Isaiah 30, the little book’s Biblical foundation, I had understood more about the message of its working title, “Affliction, God’s Loving Chastening.” The book showed how, through a long season of affliction, God had lovingly healed deep hurts, cleansed me of hidden sins, strengthened me, and made “my feet like hinds feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.” (Psalm 18:33, AMPC). A peaceful season of energizing work had followed.
The dangerous heights of testing and trouble. But now, today, this morning? Seated at the computer, pressing hard to complete that book, I was again standing in the middle of the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.
I paused, lifted the dove gray cotton tank top and frowned at the pink, raised dots covering my tummy. I wriggled my shoulders, resisting the urge to scratch, scratch, scratch the same kind of dots sprinkled over my sides and back. The fan on the bookshelf, which served as a cubby atop my writing table, faithfully whirred. On the other side of the room, the white-shaded lamp cast ovals of light into the corner and onto the vase of white plastic roses and pipe cleaner flowers, the most recent treasure from my two grandsons. Worship music lilted from the radio next to the vase.
I turned my attention to the rash, and, just like that, stepped into the snare of worry.
The snare of worry. “What if it gets worse and the doctor’s office is closed?” I pondered. “This is Friday, nearly noon. Maybe I should call and try to get a walk-in appointment.”
I took the keyboard out of my lap, the ergonomically correct typing position I so carefully used, and stood up. I took three steps and opened the refrigerator, wishing I could just step into its coolness. I was beginning to feel hot and flushed and irritated.
I sat back down, pulled the keyboard back into my lap, popped two cold red grapes into my mouth, and tried to focus on the computer screen. No good. I ran my hands through my hair, grown longer than usual during the coronavirus lockdown, and sighed deeply.
“I just don’t know what to do!” I muttered to myself, tightening the enemy’s snare of worry even more firmly around my mind.
“Things have been going so well! I just cannot handle this. What am I doing to do? It might go away. It might just be heat rash. But what if it is not? I had that anaphylactic reaction a few months ago. What if this rash gets really bad? What if my immune system is hypersensitive now?”
I stood up again, crossed the room to the rocker by the window, and picked up my Bible. Instead of sitting down and reading it, though, I just stood and stared out the window. Another sigh. Another hand-swipe at the hair prickling at face and neck. My whole body felt irritated.
“This reminds me of when I was deep in the depression and walked around the house, starting one thing after another and finishing nothing!” I fumed to myself.
The poisonous arrows of lies. Now that the enemy had me immobilized in the noose of worry, he began shooting poisonous arrows of lies. The spiritual skirmish continued.
“If I am staying close to God and doing all I can to serve Him and help others, why doesn’t He keep me healthy? Why did He allow this rash? And on top of a whole week of terrible indigestion and bloating I can’t figure out either! It is just not fair. And maybe I will keep getting more unhealthy. I am, after all, an older person now. What if I get sicker and sicker and . . .”
Finally, pulling myself out of the tailspin, I called and, thankfully, got an appointment. At three o’clock, after the most cursory of questions from the doctor, I sat in line for the drive-through window of the pharmacy. At home, I read the directions, flinched at the thought of taking more medicine, especially such a strong one as Prednisolone, and, after a long rest on the couch, sat back down at the computer, searching out more information on foods and allergies and — rashes!
More confusion! Confusion mushroomed as I read that, apparently, some heart-healthy foods I had consumed in large quantity lately—cruciferous vegetables, onions, garlic, and turmeric—could cause allergic reactions and digestive issues. Ugggh!
“What am I going to do?” I fairly screamed inside. “I itch, I have this rash, and everything I have put in my mouth today has made me burp like an ugly old toad!”
The family trait of stubbornness, however, kicked in. An hour later, after more internet browsing, I drove to the local farmer’s market grocery, list of foods that helped allergies and indigestion in hand. Plump blackberries, on sale for five dollars a tiny basket, went into the cart. Without looking at the price, I yanked up a bag of cherries and tossed them in. Next came blueberries, out-of-season slices of watermelon, and almond yogurt, at the exorbitant price of five dollars per container. I shook my head at the cash register total, feeling my shoulders slump over.
“I can’t afford this pricey stuff all the time,” I thought as I slumped my way back to the car in the dusk. The air smelled hot and too dry. Streetlights would soon come on, and I needed to be home, eating supper at my regimented two-hour-before-lying-down-soasto-prevent indigestion hour.
Trying to but failing to feel God’s presence. I drove home, dragged my itchy self and my bulging mesh bags up the stairs, had some blackberries and almond yogurt, then propped upright on the couch for an hour, listening to the worship music from the radio in the corner, trying to but failing to feel God’s presence.
“Still more frustration,” I muttered to myself as I turned off the lights and plodded to the bedroom. Mental exhaustion led to troubled, restless, and late-in-coming sleep.
Saturday, the next morning, I could not feel His presence in my morning devotional time either, as I thanked Him that the rash seemed a good bit better. Sighing, I returned to searching the computer, trying to figure out what else to eat besides high-priced food.
In the list of “Six common food allergens that cause itchy skin” was nuts, including walnuts, a handful of which I had faithfully ate each day to lower cholesterol, and almonds, which I consumed in the almond milk I drank so as to avoid asthma-irritating dairy.
I leaned over, rested my head in my hands, then got up and slammed myself onto the couch.
“Was the almond yogurt bad for me too? What else was I eating that might have caused the rash and indigestion?”
Twang! Whoosh, whoosh, thunk! Twang! Whoosh, whoosh, thunk! went the arrows of the enemy, hitting the target of my mind and heart.
Twang! Whoosh, whoosh, thunk! went the arrow of self-pity.
“I have tried so hard to be healthy, all my life, and now this!”
I stood up, half hobbling back to the computer.
“And now the stinking virus has kept me and everyone else out of the gym and my joints ache, every muscle I had is getting soft, and my feet are getting stiffer without the swim exercises.”
Through all of that, even as the panic rose, I kept trying to connect with God.
“Thank You, Lord, that I got in to see a doctor on such short notice. Thank You that the rash seems to be better this morning. Thank You that I have the money to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Thank You that I know You are faithful and that all You do is good.”
I took the afternoon blood pressure medicine I had taken for ten years and sat down to work on the book about affliction. Blissfully, the peace I always felt when writing with the Lord descended.
Ten minutes later, I paused, lifted my shirt and closed my eyes against the pressure of tears. The rash was bright pink again.
What am I supposed to do, Lord? “What am I supposed to do, Lord? I have to take the Amlodopine? People have strokes when their blood pressure is too high!”
To be continued . . .
P.S.: As I did the final editing of this Part One on the computer, getting ready to post it on the website before going to pick up my two grandsons (my reward to myself for a morning of diligent work), I accidentally hit a wrong key or two and . . . the document I had worked on for five hours (actually many more hours before today) disappeared. I stared blankly, mouth hanging open, then frantically searched every way I could think of for five minutes. Then I went online. No luck.
‘Oh, Lord! I wailed. “I know this was a good piece of work! Oh, Father, oh Father!” was all I could say.
Still stunned, eyes wide, I made up my mind to write it all over again, trusting God to somehow help me remember what we had written. I would have to trust Him to help me do that tomorrow. My back could not take another five hours in the chair today.
I looked online again, one more time, and found something that seemed promising. Still barely breathing, I anointed the computer with olive oil, prayed and walked through the steps of using the Task Manager.
Praise God, Who never fails, there the file was! So, dear friend, please do not think you are the only one waiting for the next episode of this story. I am, too!