Monday, April 24, 2017

In the Right Hands

A few days ago, I was in my car on a sunny day and I hadn't put on my sunglasses.  That may not sound like a big deal, but I have chronic migraine and being out in the bright sun without sunglasses is unthinkable.  Unthinkable because it usually causes some level of pain and can trigger a migraine.  But, thanks to my second Botox treatment a few months ago, I was able to be in the sun without sunglasses.  What made this moment particularly special was I didn't make a conscious decision to keep my sunglasses off...I didn't think about it at all.  I am always thinking about what may cause pain or trigger a migraine because they happen enough without me being able to control a trigger, so of course I'm going to try to control what I can.  On this day, I was feeling so good with no pain, there wasn't even a thought of putting on my sunglasses.  What a blessing!

Botox is interesting because it is the toxin that causes botulism, a very scary disease that can be fatal.  In fact, the toxin Botulinum is considered one of the most lethal toxins for humans.  But, for as dangerous as it can be for humans, there are many scientists that have shown that it can be used medicinally.  For example, one reason the toxin is so dangerous is because it causes widespread paralysis when left untreated.  But the same toxin, when injected purposefully in different areas like a leg muscle with spasticity, can help loosen the muscle and allow a child to crawl or walk when they otherwise could not.  In the case of chronic migraine, when it is injected in purposeful areas of the head and neck, it can prohibit the neurotransmitters from causing the debilitating pain and other symptoms during a migraine.

Something that is terrible can also be a healing agent in the right hands.  I find that fascinating!  A friend was cured of bladder cancer with tuberculosis put directly in the bladder.  There are so many other examples in medicine that show how something bad becoming something good for a patient.

God does that with us.  We live in a world full of pain - physical and emotional pain.  But we can take our pain and give it to God.  We can let Him be the master and healer of our pain and bring something good out of it.  I am convinced of this because He has done this over and over in me.  Romans 8:18 (NLT) says, "Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later."  And Romans 8:28 (NLT) says, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."  And my favorite verses that have given me so much hope through the years are found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Did you read that!?  "Our spirits are being renewed every day."  Who I am today is the result of God taking both the good and the bad in my life and shaping me to be more like Him.  He has woven His trademark healing in my spirit and is making me into the beautiful person He already sees me to be.  Something that was meant for bad in my life is something God can turn into beauty.  My physical pain is a constant reminder of better things to come, and I will continue to ask for physical healing, but I also know as long as I give it to God, God will use it to continue forming me into a more complete me while still on this earth.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Dealing with Disappointment

My husband and I spent about 11 hours on the road yesterday sending our oldest son back to school.  The drive down was okay; we hit a few spots of lake-effect snow, but they were short-lived.  The bonus was no hint of a migraine all the way down.  We dropped our son off at his dorm, gave him a hug and I sat back in the car and almost immediately felt a migraine coming on fast and strong.  I took my medicine right away, but the migraine continued to build.  No matter what I did - steroid, 2nd dose of migraine medicine, food, caffine, ginger - this migraine intended to build to horrible pain.  My evening included about 6 hours in the car of terrible pain and another hour and half at home in terrible pain before I could finally sleep in pain.  There is a diagnosis for that kind of migraine - intractable migraine.  That means it is too stubborn and strong to let any medicine help.

My journey with chronic migraine has been one wrought with disappointment.  There have been several disappointments in treatments that only kind of work but the side effects are enormous.  There have been several natural remedies tried and failed.  There have been attempts with remedies not covered by insurance like chiropractor and massage only to fail. There have been hopes of progress by having a really good week only to be followed by a really bad week.  But I have learned that I need to keep trying; I need to keep going.  And I am certainly going to keep asking God for healing even though I've dealt with the disappointment of continued pain.

This disappointment makes me think of the story of John the Baptist while he was in prison.  Jesus had been performing many miracles while John the Baptist was in prison.  When John heard what was happening, he sent for two men to talk to Jesus.  Please use this link to read Luke 7:18-28.  There are interesting things going on here.  First, John almost seems to have a wavering of faith when he asked, "Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or are you someone else?"  I say this because he declared him the One they've been expecting when he baptized him.  But Jesus' answer might seem a little strange on the surface because He mentioned signs found in Isaiah 61 and 42 he had fulfilled. Those chapters in Isaiah also say He would free prisoners and John the Baptist hadn't been freed. I wonder if that was where John needed some clarification because Jesus ended with His message to him with, "Blessed are those who do not stumble on account of me."

What could that mean?  I believe Jesus was giving Him the reminder of who He was.  Even more importantly, Jesus was letting Him know that our individual expectations of how Jesus should work isn't necessarily the way He is going to work.  When we can trust Him through those times, we are promised blessing.  In this case, we can see there was a literal freedom of prisoners for the Israelites in the Old Testament; however, we also receive freedom through Jesus from other things like eternal death, sin, fear, and other chains keeping us prisoners.

So what are my current blessings that I know were from God last night even though there wasn't the immediate healing I know with all my heart God could have given me?  First was the blessing of finding a fast-casual restaurant that had freshly made chicken broth promised with no migraine aggrivating ingredients.  And that good broth was filled with fresh veggies and included celery and kale, which help my migraines.  I was even able to have them put fresh ginger in it, which often helps my migraines!  They had non-soda caffinated drinks like apple cider green tea.  My wonderful husband delayed our trip to take care of these for me.  I was blessed with my husband softly playing worship songs on a Christian station keeping my focus on better things.  I was blessed with anti-nausea medicine that worked.

We face disappointment in life and sometimes that disappointment comes from God not performing the way we would like Him to perform.  In those times, we need to look at what God is doing rather than what He isn't.  I say that because God is always doing something and the end result will be better even if we don't see it now.  Still having trouble focusing on what God is doing?  Here is a song that blessed me greatly in my pain last night that may be a help to you.  It is "No Longer Slaves" by Jonathan and Melissa Helser.  You can watch their video here.

Our bondage isn't always seen.  Sometimes the work He is doing is freeing us from an unseen chain that is bigger than the freedom we think we need. No matter what is happening, if we have declared Jesus our Savior, we can rest in the amazing freedom He gave us from our sin.  We can declare, "I am a child of God!"