In the song "God In This Moment" Gavin Mikhail sings:
"Until the day you took away from me
The only thing that mattered in my life
Can't you see why I am angry with you?
I'm hating you for all you put me through
And, I don't know why inside this silence is deafening
You know I gave up everything for you
I followed you always, all along ."
Throughout my life and especially during my journey since I surrendered my life to Christ, I've had many God moments: times when I knew beyond all doubt that He was there in this with me and that I was not alone. But for whatever reason there was a time during my illness when I did not have that same assurance.
This was foreign feeling for me. Before during the trials in my life I always knew that God was there and that He had a plan in spite of the storm of life. It didn't matter what it was or how bad things looked, I always knew that God was there and that with Him it was going to be alright. But during part of my illness, perhaps the worst part, I felt just like the writer of "God In This Moment"- wondering if in fact there was a God in this moment and if there was, angry for the deafening silence. And to be honest, feeling a bit betrayed.
You see as bad as the first surgery was for me and as much as I wasn't a happy camper to be going through that, I always had the assurance that I was getting better. Yes I was sliced open, but I knew it would heal. I also knew that each day after surgery you feel a bit better than the day before until eventually you begin to forget the pain. And so from October 19th until October 22nd I could see God in the moment. I could see purpose: I had a medical problem that needed to be dealt with and surgery was the only way to do that. Fine. I wasn't blaming God for the fact that I was born with extra cells that turned into cysts.
But all that changed on October 23th. I was out of the hospital and recuperating at home, anxious for the day that the pain became a distant memory. But I was in for a little surprise: I started a fever. Then violent shakes. And then started losing a whole lot of blood. In the days to come instead of being lead down a road to recovery, I became sicker than I had ever been in my life.
It was in that place that I couldn't see God in those moments. In the moments where through tears I begged God to give me some relief and none came. In the moments where I was being rushed to the ER and prayed to see the right doctor, only to open my eyes and see the wrong one over and over and over again. In the moments where I prayed for healing only to have a higher fever, more violent shakes, and more pouring blood.
And it was those moments that I felt let down from the One who had always been there for me and that was a hard thing to swallow. I mean I thought I had been faithful. I thought that I had given up so much to follow Him- was that worth nothing? It's not like I expected God to be my fairy godmother who would suddenly take a wand and make the world okay again, but I expected at least a bit of hope that God was in those moments. Yet during those horrific seven days, I was coming up empty.
That left me with a choice: I could either believe that this experience was a reflection of both God's character and what our relationship was like or I could believe that even in this very dark place there was a purpose. I chose the later of the two and to borrow from that same Gavin Mikhail song, my prayer became:
"God I hope You're there in this moment
Watching over me
Can you show me you're there in this moment?
Something to make me believe."
And that He did. You see while God didn't send legions of angels or sudden healing, He did send His peace- that same peace that surpasses all human understanding. So when the doctor came in on that Sunday morning and said I was being rushed up to surgery where I would be re-opened and left opened to heal properly, I didn't panic. And when I, Miss I-can't-stand-anything-medical, saw the nurses pull five feet of packing out of me that very night, I didn't freak out. And when even after a second surgery, tons of antibiotics, and enough time later I still wasn't free from infection, I wasn't fretting.
Why? Because God used those very dark days, the days when I didn't feel Him in those moments to prepare me for what was to come.
No, it wasn't pleasant and there are many days, especially when I see my scars in the mirror, that I wish it didn't have to happen. But it did and through my illness I learned something very important: no matter what we go through, God is in every moment. The ones when we feel His presence and the ones when we don't. In the days when we're on spiritual highs and on the days when we are dragging ourselves through spiritual deserts.
The problem is that through our human eyes we only see one perspective. As the quote from Henri Nouwen at the top of this page points out, in the eyes of God there is no distinction between our sorrow and our joy because "where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom."
Our lives on earth, illnesses included, are indeed divine contradictions.