1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
5 They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
I have been avoiding writing about my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) journey. I’m not sure why other than it has likely taken me several months to get to a place where I have accepted the reality of my situation. Denial is not just a river in Africa.
But this morning, as I pressed into my daily devotional book the study was on this passage in Psalms and the anguish David portrayed yet still embracing enduring faith has been the ground zero struggle for me.
And how much does that resonate with the echoes of Job…
Job 2:13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
And of course the ultimate suffering that nobody in all creation will ever experience, that of our Savior Jesus Christ…
Matthew 27:46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
By no means am I suggesting that ME/CFS ranks up there with the suffering on the scale these endured; but how much in our own lives do we feel overwhelmed to the point that they describe?
Just as Paul cried out three times, Lord remove this thorn, God replied “My grace is sufficient”.
I am now coming up on 6 months of being out of work. At times, sadly, I feel worse now than I did when this all started 6 months ago. The Post Exertional Malaise (PEM) is almost violently debilitating when it hits leaving me in bed for days at a time yet at the same time I find myself incapable of describing properly to friends and family the experience.
And that is only one aspect; the complete brain shutdown, inability to handle light or sound, laying in bed so exhausted that it almost feels painful after simply taking a shower or doing the dishes, I get it; it defies any common sense.
I need to study Job more deeply, but for me the physical and mental aspects are not the worse, being misunderstood and somehow judged by the ones closest to me is the hardest to endure.
I Have Never Felt More Alone
Comments like “it must be nice to get paid to lay around all day” or “you are sleeping too much, force yourself out of bed” and “you’re just out of shape” or “sounds like depression”.
I have tried defending these comments, tried to educate them, nearly begged for support in my situation, but yet the cold steel of condemnation and judgment seemingly continues to be my bedmate.
Peter Scazzero in the devotional linked above goes on to share the suffering of Horatio Spafford. Briefly, he lost his fortune and all of his children nearly all at once, yet it is he who coined the phrase “It is well with my soul“. (follow that link for a deeper look into the song lyrics and story)
Job had to endure the betrayal of friends and family during his greatest need for emotional support. I can’t think of anything worse than to be forsaken at your greatest time of need.
Yet, It Is Well With My Soul
I do not know if I am going through the same evolution that those men had to fight through in their own souls, but today I can say that gratitude and hope is beginning to replace fear and resentment.
The journey these last few months through the poking and prodding of specialists and the gallons of blood draws all of which find “nothing wrong” and the (unintentional I believe) betrayal of friends and family has driven me inward and to my knees.
I have come to discover that the reason the words of those closest to me sting so deeply is because just beyond my own conscious awareness has been this Inner-Condemner who has been spewing the same lies my entire life!
It is this voice that tells me I’m not doing enough, even though it was my over-striving to do everything way beyond my body’s ability to endure that put me in this situation in the first place. He tells me I am a loser, and that I will never amount to anything, and that I’m a fool to even try, and that nobody cares.
It is the pain inflicted by my father, or the apathy of my mother, the condemnation of my ex-wife, the voice of all those I have codependently given up my own soul in search for their affirmations.
I May Be Sick, But I Am Not Forsaken
It is this journey into complete isolation that I finally was led face-to-face with the demons of my past that I’ve never seen in this light before. Without this season of suffering I do not know that I ever would have to come to this level of awareness of the spiritual battle that rages within my own soul. One that I myself have been keeping alive through the agreements I made with the Enemy many decades ago.
Today, with this new awareness and the arsenal of biblical Truth and help of counselors and my supportive church family, I am turning the tide on the negative voice within.
I can clearly see the hand of God, Who will allow the suffering that often comes as the result of our own poor choices, but He will NEVER let us suffer just for sake of suffering. There is ALWAYS something to be gained in the valleys of hardship, if we will open our hearts to The God Who Is With Us and begin to sing His praises in the midst of the pain; not waiting until after the storm has passed to sing our song.
Romans 8:28-30 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
I have been sober from drugs and alcohol for over 8 years now, but that Inner-Condemner has continued to have his way with me. Now, I can say definitively that through this season of suffering that voice is now being replace with an Inner-Encourager and an Inner-Protector and they are having a profound affect on the condition of my soul.
My life verse for 2019
CFS is not only opening the door for a new hope, but confidence that God is with me, and that this is not the end of my story but instead a rewrite of the story I was living, it is becoming the new song I am discovering.
And funny enough, that is the life verse I chose on January 1st…
Psalm 96:1 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Much like my 10 year relapse to drugs and alcohol which led me to an awareness and reliance on Christ in a way I never even new I was missing, nearly 8 years later to the day I can honestly say that this CFS journey is equally leading me to next level stuff; a new life of reliance on the redemption of Christ and a desperate need for the voice of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to sustain me in ways that I didn’t even know I was missing.
Praise God!! It Is Well With My Soul!!
Lord God, my Redeemer, my Strength, my Hope, my Joy, my Restoration, MY SAVIOR. I know that You won’t bring suffering and sickness upon those You love, but You are ever-present with us, and You promise that our endurance of the trials in the present pale in comparison to the future glory that awaits us. I continue to pray for and embrace the sanctification of my soul more than I desire the restoration of my physical body. Never have You claimed that Your Path was easy, but I believe that if our hearts can continue to sing You praises in the midst of the storm, that the Yolk Becomes Light. Thank you Father that in Your great mercy You are redeeming my season in the valley, may my testimony bear witness to Your faithfulness. In the glory of Your Precious Name Jesus I pray…
The world today has such a utilitarian view of people – that one’s worth is proportional to his ability to work/produce/perform. So an infirmity like yours is a direct hit on your self-esteem. But Mankind’s little secret is that we are ALL helpless and dependent. It’s just that for a while we’re allowed to walk around believing that we aren’t.
You are in a place where God’s grace is more real to you than to most of us. God bless you, and please keep sharing your experiences.
Thank you so much Ann, I like how you tied this into self esteem in a way that isn’t the “New Age make your children feel good about themselves”sort of way but instead the deficit that we all must face in our humanness and find a way to navigate if we truly want to live free. Not in spite of our brokenness but by embracing it. Blessings to you my sister ❤️
You too, George.
Wow, no platitudes from me George, I’ve never been in your shoes but I can understand at a basic level. One of the things that I often pray for is asking God not to allow me to get in the way of His will. I know that God loves you, beyond anything that you can imagine. And the oneness that you are discovering with Him is precious. There’s very few of us that haven’t had ups and downs and yet God is always there, which is amazing. I’ll add you to my prayer list and hold you up daily brother. He’ll lead you where He wants you to be. Rest in Him my friend. Grace and blessings.
Thank you Bruce, your support and encouragement and understanding and prayers feed richly that place of deficit in my heart. My prayers also that your ministry, mission and soul continue thrive as you allow God to move freely throughout your life. Blessings brother ❤️