You see, I typed out the following personal story several months ago, about a time God spoke clearly to me in my own pain. But I never posted it. I chickened out...thought to myself...what are people going to think of me if I share this? They are going to find me very weird. Yep, weird was the correct word, alright.
But his courage gave me courage. So here is my story. And if you find me weird, I'll try to be okay with that. Peace.
We sang an old hymn at church this morning, It is Well With My Soul. Many of you know this is my favorite hymn. I loved it as a child and we sang it often at Calvary Tabernacle in Roanoke. I forgot about it for many years. But God brought it back to my memory during one of the most difficult times of my life. It was a turning point for me and I remembered it as we sang this morning:
We were living in Marshall, Virginia and the girls were very young. Ainsley was less than a year old and suffering from extreme acid reflux. The condition landed her in the hospital at two weeks old because she would stop breathing every time the acid would bubble up into her throat. It was incredibly painful for her and she cried about 16 hours each day. If she was awake, she was usually in pain and crying, screaming her little lungs out, actually. It was very difficult to see my child in such pain everyday and not be able to fix it.
We had been living in the area less than six months when Ron was let go from his job due to the crashing economy.
Further, I had just been informed by my Eye Doctor that I had glaucoma and was already sixty percent blind. I was told even with treatment I would probably be completely blind in ten years or less. I can't describe the panic I felt at those words. My visible world became sharp and beautiful and horrible. I stared at my girls' faces terrified I was going to forget them...the shape of their little mouths and the colors in their eyes.
I was sitting on the floor of the playroom in our little rented house, on the girls' blue and pink IKEA princess rug, holding Ains and trying to comfort her. I felt the weight of the entire world bearing down to crush me into dust. She and I were both crying, for our own reasons. Ron was sitting at our computer a few feet away. Numb.
I remember thinking, "I can't do this. I have no strength left."
Sometimes we have to get to the end of ourselves before we allow God to step in. That "end" may be due to our own poor choices or life just beating us until we have nothing left. I also felt very clearly that Satan had thrown down the gauntlet- he had stripped me of my "external" security, the loss of income. He had attacked our daughter's health, causing great pain and anxiety in our home. If you've ever lived around the constant screams of an infant...unrelenting, for hours at a time...you know how it rips away peace.
But stealing my eyesight? It was an attack on my very purpose. I am a writer. I know God created me for this specific "career" purpose. Satan was trying to blot out the very reason I was put on this Earth.
You could say these were all just naturally occurring circumstances and there was nothing spiritual or mystical about them...that life just sucks sometimes. Perhaps. But I believe there is an Enemy of our souls that seeks with all his will and power to destroy all that is good in our lives. Maybe some of the circumstances were just bad luck. But I believe the loss of my eyesight was a direct attack.
God said "Enough".
And that's when I heard it, while I was holding my baby girl on the floor and weeping. I didn't realize I still knew the words to the song. Maybe I didn't. But God did. This is what I heard in my mind and heart, louder than the pain and fears:
"When peace like a river attendeth my way.
when sorrows like sea billows roll...
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say...
It is well, it is well with my soul."
I recognized the song instantly. I can't explain the peace I felt in that moment. It was as though God reached down into my mess and He held me, telling me He could fix all that was broken. I didn't know how he was going to do it, but I knew I couldn't on my own. My strength was admirable, and yet useless without God's intervention.
So I gave in and let Him be God. I let the peace come.
God did indeed fix the broken pieces of that day. His fixing was astounding, miraculous as only God can be when we allow Him. His healing power was shown a short week later, when my Eye Doctor stood dumbfounded in the middle of the exam room, staring at his notes and the ceiling...having no idea how this young mom's damaged sight could be nearly perfect six short days after the life sentences of glaucoma and blindness were spoken.
*I know the subject of healing is controversial and I do not have the answers of why some people experience healing and others don't. I just know I asked, day and night, for six days...my very theologically simplistic prayer:
"God, I believe you can heal. In Jesus' name, I ask you to heal my eyesight. Thank you Lord."
Over and over and over and over. God answered.
Ron got a job offer back in West Palm Beach three months later, and South Florida became home for us again. All the broken pieces of that day in Marshall, Virginia worked out, miraculously.
I will leave you with the song and the story of its inception. The writer endured more pain than I have ever known and yet he wrote one of the greatest songs of our faith. Out of his deep pain, he heard God. And listened.