I am rather practical by nature. I like to have a plan. I am comfortable operating within a schedule. However . . .severe chronic illness and autoimmune disorders have a way of dramatically interfering with plans and schedules. Reality — I cannot predict how I will be feeling tomorrow, and really cannot predict what next week will be . . .which means that the last five years especially have been a series of lessons learned in flexibility and acceptance in God ordering my days (rather than my making a plan and asking God to put his stamp of approval on it).
For 2017 I set a “goal” (read desire rather than tightly held this must happen) of memorizing a Psalm for each month of the year. I was very ill for most of the month of January, but I was able to hide away Psalm 56 (thank You, God, for Your mercy!), but wasn’t certain which Psalm I should memorize for February. On February 1, while reviewing Psalm 56, my eyes were drawn to Psalm 57. It was a continuation of David’s writing while on the run from King Saul, and at the same time being pressured by the Philistines. And so my memorization/meditation journey began . . .
Fast forward a few days, through the weekend and to Monday morning. I woke to the beginnings of an exertion headache to rival any previous exertion headaches. As the day wore on, my head was throbbing, my vision so blurry I could barely see so reading was impossible; the nausea came in waves, my muscles were weak; in other words, nothing that I had planned for a Monday was going to happen . . .but I could still review my verses I had memorized, and could listen (on very low volume) to the audio Bible. Though the symptoms lessened some on Monday evening so I could get some sleep, Tuesday morning seemed that it would be a repeat of Monday.
As I was reviewing an meditating on Psalm 57, I began sobbing in appreciation and awe of God’s deliverance and mercy, and the Holy Spirit’s perfect timing:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
I had been thanking God for His mercy, for the truth that He is my ever-present refuge from the storms of illness and pain. Though I have no idea of how long the “storm” will last, I do know that God will be my refuge for as long as the storm rages — there is no time limit.
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness.
God Most High, the supreme Sovereign of the universe — is my God. He has a purpose for my life, and His purpose will not be thwarted. He intentionally will come to me in my pain and confusion, and save me. His unchanging steadfast love and faithfulness are present for me. Though my head feels as though someone is trampling on me, God is here, and the enemy will not win.
My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts — the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.
When the symptoms are very severe, my life feels about as uncontrollable as it would be to lie down in the middle of a pride of lions. All may be quiet now, but . . .
and, seriously, an exertion headache can feel like an arrow is being thrust from the back of my head, through my brain and into my eye . . .
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
I was completely overwhelmed in worship of God’s personal care for me. I didn’t know what would transpire on Monday and Tuesday –but God did. In His sovereign wisdom and purpose He chose not to remove the headache and the symptoms; rather, He sent His Word into my memory; He sent His steadfast love and faithfulness into the midst of my pain, to assure me that HE IS THERE.
I am now even more committed to the discipline of memorizing and meditating on God’s Word. The words of the prophet Isaiah —
55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
God’s Word will not return empty.
God has a purpose for me, and the power to accomplish that purpose.
God is absolutely trustworthy, and His love for me is steadfast.
God’s plans are far better than any plan that I could devise or imagine, and I can trust in His plans for me.