For the sake of my kids and society at large I am practiced at putting on a brave face but I am struggling a lot at the moment; every now and then the facade cracks and I spill awkward tears before strangers. These past six months have been a dark time and possibly the name of my blog isn’t appropriate anymore! I have often felt like I am being beaten relentlessly by crashing waves of despair as I cling to the Rock of Ages.
Every parent’s worst nightmare is the death of their child, I kept it in my peripheral vision, too fearful to turn my head and look at it full in the face. But I couldn’t keep it there, it sought us out and gripped us with it’s awful features last December when my sister and her husband’s little boy died. I have looked into the abhorrent face of death a few times and I know it shows no discretion.
Now a further blow as these past few days have brought a new anguish into our lives – one of my own children has been referred to a specialist after some worrying finds that point to a rare disease. How can I ‘keep strong’ and ‘hang in there’ and ‘look after myself’? It is hard to see her in so much pain, it is hard not knowing what is wrong, it is hard facing into visits to a neurosurgeon, it is hard knowing from experience how our children don’t always come through things like this.
I am being pursued by three companions whom I hate. Like falling in love, my response involves my whole body, but it is the opposite to love: my heart is filled with fear, my stomach burns with anxiety and my head churns with worry. The nights are wakeful and the days are watchful. These companions have the potential to consume and ultimately destroy me.
So I know I have to seek a way through this time that is shrouded in darkness and find a light for the way ahead. I need to swap the cruel lies in my head whispered to me in the dark by these false lovers and replace them with words of truth. I can’t take those lies away by myself as I have tried and failed, they have to be replaced by something else and Someone else.
I hear some new but familiar words, the whisperings are kinder and stronger, I recognise the voice of the lover of my soul:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Psalm 46:2
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day. Psalm 91:5
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil 4:6
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:33
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Matthew 6:34
My heart lifts suddenly, my mind settles and I feel peace descend. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or in six months time, but one thing I do know, no matter what, even if I can’t feel it and the world comes crashing down around me, God loves me. I don’t understand the ‘why’s’ of our world but I do trust in the sovereignty and wisdom of our Creator.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
I have a Lover who is greater than anything that life throws in my path. So I cast away fear because I see it has already been replaced with love, I dump anxiety and put trust in its place, I put aside my worry and turn my face towards hope and this has, at last, brought me to a place of peace, certainty and gratitude.
More on illness and symptoms here.