I’ve been facing some challenges lately: ill-health, doctors not sure why I’m unwell, surgery to find the problem, a diagnosis but needing more surgery, long wait for second surgery, joy of finding surgery is scheduled for two weeks time, disappointment of hearing a week later that it has to be rescheduled for 2 months later. It’s been a frustrating time because I can’t work fulltime and it feels like such a waste of time to have to spend so much of every day resting.
I had some insights a few weeks ago that I thought I’d share to remind me of them and in case it’s helpful to anyone else going through tough and frustrating times. As I mentioned, I often feel frustrated at my limited energy – I feel like there are so many things I could be doing to make good use of my time, to serve God well if only I had better health. I realise though that if God would be pleased by my doing those things, if God would be most glorified and if I could serve him best by being able to work fulltime and not be hampered by illness, then surely he would give me good health and energy to do them.
I think it comes down to contentment. God never promised an easy life free from illness or hardship to those who follow Jesus. I can be consumed with frustration and spend my energy complaining and battling the doctors to hurry up and do something, or I can accept that this is part of God’s good plan for me, and learn how to use this time of illness well. I can worry about when it will all end and how I will cope if things don’t get better soon, or I can be content that God’s wisdom is greater than mine and he knows better than I ever will what is best for me, and work out how to best serve him and make the best use of the time and energy I do have. That’s not to say I shouldn’t do what I can to look after myself (eat well, exercise, go to the doctor, follow the doctor’s advice etc.), but that when I find in spite of doing those things that I still need to rest a lot and am still plagued by pain and other symptoms, I shouldn’t start thinking I know better than God and that good health is what I need to serve and glorify him.
One of the implications from this is that to work out how to make the best use of my time and energy means understanding what will please God, understanding what his priorities are, and that means spending time studying God’s Word, and getting to know him and his purposes.
I know this isn’t a complete summary of what the Bible teaches or a comprehensive guide on how to approach suffering, but it’s just a few of my thoughts recently that have helped me to stop dwelling in despair, stop wishing that what I think is best would happen and start to look at the bigger picture. I’ll leave you with a proverb which came to mind when my joy of finally having a date for my surgery that enabled me to plan out my life turned to the disappointment of finding it had to be rescheduled and my plans had to be changed yet again:Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
Are there any Bible verses or truths that have helped you through tough times?