I know I promised you a series on how I was successful in obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) so quickly, and I promise that is in the works. However, as I have told you several times over the last few weeks, I am having an extraordinarily difficult time with my illness lately. I have been dealing with a lot of pain, which is quite severe at times, and I am incredibly weak. I have basically been in my bed for the last month, which is very unusual for me. Although I am homebound and technically 'bedridden', I very rarely stay in the bed. I am usually able to make it downstairs to my recliner so that I can be with my family when they are home and my furbabies when my family isn't. However, lately I haven't even been able to do much of that. **sigh** It has been very frustrating, but things were looking up a little and I had been feeling a little better - that is until 'Aunt Flo' decided to pay me an unexpected visit on Sunday. She has definitely socked it to me and set me back a little....OK, a lot. I hope to start making my way downstairs more often in the next couple of days or so. My hubby is almost finished with our new built-ins in the family room which go on either side of our fireplace. They look absolutely AMAZING!! I can't wait to get down there just so I begin enjoying them and admiring them all day. They are truly THAT beautiful!! I will share some pictures of them with you really soon!
So, on to today's post. It is a wonderful piece full of hope, written by a lady who also suffered from a very difficult chronic illness. It really struck a chord with me and gave me some MUCH needed, renewed HOPE! I have really been in a bad place over the last few weeks, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I usually can put up a good front, but lately, I am most definitely struggling with being tired, sad, lonely, frustrated, confused, afraid and, a lot of days, just down right ANGRY! I'm angry with my body's refusal to cooperate. I'm angry that my family and I are having to suffer through ANOTHER major crisis (those of you who know me in real life know exactly what I'm talking about) and I'm angry that our family can not seem to have just one year, one month or even just one day that is the slightest bit normal!! I just sit here and think to myself, 'Why us?' Why does every single thing have to be so crazy and so difficult for us ALL the time?!? But then I ask myself, 'Why NOT us?' I remind myself that what we have endured and continue to endure is NOTHING compared to what Christ endured for us ALL!! This is also about the time when I remember that if we weren't doing something right, then Satan wouldn't feel compelled to be constantly stirring up trouble for us! Then finally, I think about the fact that the Lord has a purpose for us and He has great plans for each of us. He has a plan to make us all strong and for us to prosper, not to bring us harm! He gives us hope for our future, we just have to look for it! That incredible hope is what I cling to. I have been clinging to it for YEARS now! Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite Bible verse and I always have it on the right sidebar of my blog. I keep it there to remind me to keep on clinging!
If you are losing hope or feel you have already lost hope, you should read the message below. Even if you have lots of hope, you should read it. It is a great read, followed by an incredible song that chose because I love it and thought it was very fitting.
Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed;
for You are my praise!
I woke up with the same tormenting headache I had gone to bed with, and struggled to the bathroom. I grasped the sink with both hands and reluctantly raised my pounding head to the mirror. The face reflected in the glass was a fiery red mask of tiny bumps and large acne like sores. Hundreds of them.
The horrible rash covered my face like the Egyptian plague of boils in the Bible. The unending headache and rash comprised the mysterious condition I had lived with for 12 long, unbearable years. Here I was, a middle-aged woman with two teenage sons and a husband and I could hardly raise my head and look in the mirror.
Tears blurred my vision as I tried to remember the smooth, milkwhite complexion I used to have. My fingers twitched, longing to claw at the fiercely itching skin on my face.
I had tried everything – special diets, oatmeal soap, baby oil, vitamins and enough creams and ointments to fill a small drugstore. And the long line of doctors I had seen had passed by like a dwindling parade of hope. The rash had only grown worse, and my face swelled, itched and turned tomato-red at the slightest stimulus.
Suddenly the pain behind my eyes tightened as if someone were packing cotton into my sinuses. I reached for a bottle of pain medication and quickly swallowed a couple of pills. I took the maximum of eight pills a day. But they only forestalled the worst of it – when the pain crept down my neck, making clear thinking nearly impossible.
I felt consumed by despair, by the long years of this strange affliction. I had prayed so many times for it to go away. “Oh, God, why don’t you help me?”
I dabbed at my eyes and dressed for work. My head ached so much I could hardly pull a comb through my hair. I thought about crawling back into bed. But, of course, I couldn’t. I liked my work as a third grade school teacher. I had to keep going.
As I entered school that morning a little girl peered up at me, her eyes wide with surprise and dismay. “How come your face looks like that?” she asked.
I raised my hands over my cheeks and tried to explain. But I fell silent. I had no answer.
Not long after, someone told me about a dermatologist. I had seen half a dozen specialists already, but I made an appointment, ready to grasp at anything. I sat slumped on his examining table after long series of allergy tests.
“Well, maybe we have an answer,” the doctor said. “It appears you are allergic to yourself.”
I stared at him disbelievingly. “You must be kidding!” “I know it sounds strange, but these allergy tests show you are allergic to your own bacteria.” Hope blew away like the last autumn leaf. Allergic to myself. How could I escape that?
“We’ll make a special serum, using your saliva,” said the doctor, “and teach you how to inject it.”
And so began the next three years of giving myself shots. The headaches were not quite as severe, nor the rash quite as red – partial relief. The doctor did everything he could, prescribing medicines, creams and consultations. Still, the ever-present plague was agonizing, embarrassing.
So I followed my old, exhausted pattern and found yet another doctor. This time an outstanding allergist. More tests. More money. He decided I was allergic to a long list of foods, and put me on a diet. For a year I existed on nothing but peas, potatoes, carrots, lettuce and lean meat. My weight plummeted to 102 pounds.
“You’re wasting away, Mama,” said my son one morning as I packed my lunch of canned peas. He was right. Something dreadful was happening to me. And despite it all the daily headaches persisted and the humiliating rash and acne were splashed across my face as big and as red as ever.
This is no way to live, I thought dismally as I draped a scarf across my head and left for work.
Then one Sunday as I struggled to teach my Sunday school class, I heard myself saying, “God, is the answer.” I paused, the echo of my words thundering in my head. As the class continued, the words burrowed inside me like a splinter.
At home after church I lay on the sofa with a warm cloth across my forehead. I gazed out the windows at the silent woods across the road. The words I had spoken that morning nudged at me. I am a Christian, I thought. I tell other people God is the answer, that they can find wholeness through him. Yet I’ve been a prisoner of this condition for nearly sixteen years.
Suddenly the familiar old story of the woman in Mark 5:25-34 focused in my mind. The woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and was healed. I was so much like her. I too had suffered a condition for many years, gone to countless physicians, spent nearly all I had and was not better, but worse. The difference was the woman in Mark had finally gone to Jesus with faith – and was healed.
Did such healings still happen today? I wondered. If so, could healing really happen to me? There on the sofa, the idea of real healing from God spun in my head. It almost seemed too ancient to be real. If only I could be sure.
The weeks passed and winter melted away. The incredible idea of healing lingered in my mind like a held-over Christmas present. I toyed with the ribbons, afraid to open it, afraid it might turn out to be empty. . . but strangely unable to turn away.
Then one Sunday something happened. I lay in bed trying to find diversion from my headache by watching television. On the screen stood a beautiful young woman – Cheryl Prewitt, Miss America 1980.
“God healed me,” she said. “I prepared myself to be healed, and God healed me.”
My heart began to pound with a strange excitement. She was speaking to me! He did still heal people today.
“Come quick!” I called to my husband and boys. As they hurried to the bedroom I pointed to the TV, where the radiant young woman still spoke. Tears poured down my face. “If God can heal her, then He can heal me,” I said.
Finally, after 16 desperate years of trying everything else, I was ready. Again I relived that biblical story in my mind. What was it Jesus had said to that woman after she had brushed her fingertips across His robe? “Your faith has made you whole.” And what had Cheryl Prewitt said? “I prepared myself to be healed.”
Faith, there was the key. There was what had been missing before. My faith had grown flabby, like out-of-shape muscles. I knew intellectually that God is powerful and can heal. But somehow I had to get that knowledge from my mind down into my heart. I had to believe it as absolutely as I believed the sun would rise tomorrow.
On May 1, I began to prepare myself for healing like an athlete training for the Olympics. I sat down in the kitchen rocker with a pad of paper and my Bible. I flipped to the concordance in the back, to the heading of “healing, health and faith.” I picked out verses, then looked them up, writing each one down word for word. It took a couple of days, but I finally compiled a list of 36 Scriptures – sort of a training manual for my faith.
The next day I tucked the papers into my purse. While driving to work I pulled them out and laid them on the seat. At the first stoplight I focused on Psalm 103:2-3. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. . . Who healeth all thy diseases,” I whispered. I closed my eyes, saying it over and over, letting it sink down inside me. At a stop sign my eyes fell on another: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed. . .” Jeremiah 17:14. I said it over and over.
All day I kept it up – before getting out of the car, walking along the school corridors, sitting in the playground at recess. Not a spare moment was lost; by the end of the school day my Scripture papers were dog-eared from wear.
In the weeks that followed this became my constant routine. The papers were as inseparable from me as my shadow. And by some inexplicable process the 36 Scriptures were slowly sinking into the core of my being with roots of belief. I was actually beginning to believe – really believe – that I could almost feel my faith stretching and rippling with new strength.
I circled July 12 on the kitchen calendar. “Lord, this is the day I’m asking for complete healing,” I said.
Then I added another exercise. I began to visualize my complexion as pink and clear as a newborn baby’s, and my sinus passages free and well. I imprinted it on my mind day and night. This exercise became rather a strenuous one, because the mirror was such a contrast from my image. The mirror is wrong, I told myself. Soon it will reflect my inner image.
Late that spring I hurried past a mirror at school. Suddenly I stopped, backed up and peered into it. I ran my fingers across my face. Was it my imagination or did the fiery-red rash seem a bit faded? And my headache. Didn’t it seem better? “Oh, thank you, Lord!” I cried. “You are healing me.”
July 12 dawned warm and shiny through the bedroom window. I tiptoed to the bathroom mirror, took a deep breath and looked into it. The rash still lingered in the lower part of my face, and a faint sinus headache tugged behind my eyes. I will not give up, I thought. With a sudden burst of faith I said, “Well, Lord, this is the day! I know it will happen.”
When the sun set in an orange glow I went to the mirror again. Again I stared at my reflection, tears sparkling on my face. A face completely smooth and clear! It was the face I had imagined. The headache of the morning had drifted away as well. God and faith had made me whole.
For almost a year now I have not experienced a single headache, and my skin remains clear. I’ve gotten rid of all the old ointments, medicines, allergy shots and diets. The only thing I’ve kept are my precious dog-eared papers – those powerful Scripture exercises that brought my faith to life. For there’s one thing I’ve learned: Though it’s important to keep physical muscles well-toned, it’s even more important to keep “faith muscles” strong. For they are the ones that churn the spiritual energy, that move the mountains in our lives. Even a mountain like mine, which had towered over me for 16 years.
A few weeks ago at a meeting a stranger tapped my shoulder. “Your complexion is so beautiful,” she said. “Oh, thank you,” I said, breaking into an unusually big smile. A smile, I’m sure, no one there really understood, except me and God!
~ By Marilyn Ludolf, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope this encourages you today as it did me. All the scriptures Marilyn used during her journey to complete healing are listed below, in case you are interested in using them yourself. Just click on one and it will take you to that particular verse on Biblegateway.com.
I hope each and every one of you have a wonderfully blessed day!