As a little girl, I often dreamt of what my life would be like in the future. I envisioned living my happily ever after with my own prince charming, two happy kids, a house in the country and a job that I loved going to everyday. At that point, I hadn’t decided yet if I wanted to be a dance teacher, pastor, or a secretary. Despite my varying and odd job aspirations, I was convinced my life as an adult would go exactly as planned.
Now as I look back, I chuckle at myself and the diary pages I filled with the plans I had for myself. So far, my life course has not followed anything close to the roadmap I had drafted up at the age of 8. But now, I understand that there is a greater and wiser Creator who has written my story. In fact, it was written long before I was even born.
June 1, 1996, I took my first breath on this earth, the first-born child to my parents. Within my first month of life, I experienced complications and was diagnosed with a respiratory disease called Cystic Fibrosis.
Currently, there is no cure to Cystic Fibrosis. I live a pretty normal life thanks to incredible technology and advancements. I manage my disease with at home treatments, medications, and an incredible healthcare team. There are many times, however, when my health declines and I experience a lot of fear and pain. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that in the matter of days, I can lose a lot of my lung function and fall sick to infection. I often feel like I have no control, which has driven me to try to plan and control as much as I can. This past summer, God has especially been working on my heart and the fears I so tightly cling to.
My summer was a busy one. I had been planning a wedding, trying to balance my health – yet still enjoy our quick Minnesota summers – and anxiously waiting for my newly graduated fiancé to find a job. My life was filled with to dos and what ifs. What if I get sick? What if my fiancé finds a job out of state and we have to move? What if I don’t finish everything for the wedding?
And then, one of my fears came true. A few weeks before the wedding I ended up in the hospital. My lung function was declining, I was losing weight and energy. I performed a lung function test and I couldn’t make it through without coughing and being short of breath. I saw the numbers appear on the screen and my eyes immediately welled with tears. I knew exactly what it meant. It meant hospitalization. It meant sleepless nights not in my own bed. It meant getting a PICC line placed and administering my own antibiotics. It meant tests. It meant poking and prodding from strangers trying to take care of me. It meant I had to pause on my to do list. It meant I had failed myself.
That day and the few days following, I was angry at God. How could He do this? Couldn’t He have protected me? Where was He in all of this? In return of my anger and questions, I heard nothing from God. I couldn’t feel His presence. I didn’t have an answer. This was never how I imagined my life to be just two weeks away from my wedding. I was supposed to be finalizing décor and binge watching Say Yes to the Dress while counting down the days to my fairytale! Instead, I was tied to my treatment machine each day and suffering through my persistent cough and self-pity in the same PJ’s I had worn for the past couple days. This was definitely not a part of the plan.
Within 5 days, I was able to go home. My lung function jumped nearly 10 percent! I bounced back so quickly, it was truly astounding. The best part, I hadn’t felt this good in a long time. I hadn’t realized how bad I felt, until I realized how good I felt now. I didn’t realize the healing and rest I needed.
In the days before my wedding, I was able to reflect and
look back on the last few weeks of my life. I had reached a low – questioning
what God was doing in my life. And now, I was about to experience the highest
of highs – marrying my favorite person in the world, surrounded by our loved
ones. As the last details came together for the wedding, I had some
God took care of me in ways I didn’t even know I needed.
I had suffered through low lung function, illness, and hospitalization so that I could be healed, restored, and feeling my very best for some of the most treasured days of my life. This hit me like a ton of bricks. God had not abandoned me. In fact, my Creator took care of me. What felt like suffering was actually needed healing. I am reminded that God works in unimaginable ways and I think of Isaiah 55:8-9.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We often don’t have answers or closure about the suffering in our world and in our lives. But this verse reminds me that it’s OK that I do not understand the way God works, because His power and love go beyond our understanding.
My need for God becomes evident when I see weakness in myself and the world around me.
In my weakness, in my illness, in my anger, and in my self-pity, I have found how much I need Jesus. I can’t trust that my treatments will keep me out of the hospital. I can’t trust that my plans will work out. But I can trust Jesus and His promise to be with me during my time on this earth. I need HIM because His promises are the only solid truth I know I can lean on. I often refer to 2 Corinthians 12:9.
“’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
While I haven’t been able to “boast” in my weakness; I have been able to see the ways I have been able to grow closer to Christ in my weakness, in my questioning, in the moments I have to call out to Him when my life doesn’t look the way I had planned it. That same type of growth doesn’t often happen when I am feeling content.
I don’t know how well MY plans will work out, but I do know God’s plan for me.
Life may not look the way you planned or hoped. I don’t think it does for most people. Strained relationships, financial hardships, and everyday struggles often find us in this broken world. But the story doesn’t end there. We can find hope and peace which surpasses all understanding because of our heart-mending Savior, Jesus. We may not know how our plans and hopes for our lives will turn out, but we do know the ending of our story. It ends with us meeting with Jesus face to face for the first time and spending eternity in His glory. That is the hope I continue to hold onto. No matter what unexpected circumstance you are facing, I hope you can hold onto that too.Topics: faith, hardship, surrender