“I must hold on to these glorious truths with all my might as I make my way through the debris of this broken world. Help me remember that You Yourself are the Truth. You are also the Way, so it is wise to follow You.The Light of Your Presence is shining on me—illuminating the pathway before me.”
– Jesus Listens Prayers for Advent
Rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. (Philippians 3:1 NIV)
My floral teacup is filled with stories. This delicate cup holds some (now dried) pink roses that one of my children bought to celebrate my first year of remission from cancer. I recall that hard-won healing milestone whenever I look at it, but I remember something else when I look more closely: Nestled within the dried roses is a small wooden cross that I discovered in a parking lot five years before my cancer diagnosis. It tells a different story.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is considered an alternative treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), and it was my last-ditch attempt to regain the ability to walk without a walker. Although the procedures proved to be too expensive in Austin, my husband and I found a reasonably priced clinic in San Antonio. I spent the next six weeks living alone in a hotel near the clinic. I was desperate for healing, but I also desperately missed my husband and children.
When I arrived at the clinic on the morning of my final treatment, I stepped out of the car and saw the wooden cross inscribed with the words, “In Everything Give Thanks.” I was already giving thanks! My CRPS pain was almost gone, and I could finally walk without my walker. The pressurized oxygen had worked powerfully on my limbs—that is, until four days later, when the crushing and burning pain returned with a vengeance. It is one thing to live every day with severe pain; it is entirely another to have it swoop in and clamp down after a period of freedom from it.
God knew I would need that wooden cross with those words, as the healing I’d hoped for did not come to pass. I learned to give thanks despite my heartache, pain, and tears. Purposefully thanking God during both crushing pain and shattering disappointment protected me from the dangers of despair. Determinedly rejoicing in the Lord is a valuable safeguard for my spirit.
The Great Physician is fully able to heal any ailment, and we might even experience the miracle of physical healing during this life. But if the miracle we so desperately desire is delayed until heaven, God will give us all we need to patiently endure the wait. Contentment and peace are just two of the beautiful ways God helps us persevere when we suffer from health challenges. He who overcame the world equips and enables us to overcome everything we face in this life.
Overcoming illness sometimes looks like miraculous healing, but it can also look like miraculous strength, peace, and perseverance amid overwhelming suffering.
Stories of Strenght
Looks can be deceiving; inside my fragile floral teacup are two beautiful stories of strength. The cup holds the roses that celebrate my healing and commemorate the suffering I endured to be healed. The wooden cross celebrates the healing I will have one day, and it commemorates the suffering Jesus went through to make that possible. These tokens of God’s amazing grace remind me that I have every reason to be thankful.
Pray: Dear God, thank You that Your strength lives within the fragile places of my life. You give me so many opportunities to discover Your provision; help me keep my spiritual eyes open so I will find it. Teach me to practice the discipline of rejoicing in You when my health issues threaten to engulf me. Thank You for every reminder of Your amazing grace. In Jesus’s name, amen.
About The Author
Andrea Herzer, author of Incurable Faith: 120 Devotions of Lasting Hope for Lingering Health Issues (WaterBrook) is intimately acquainted with the hardships that accompany debilitating health issues, having spent the last 20 years with multiple illnesses, including complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Andrea lives near Austin, Texas with her husband, Mark. They have three grown children. For more information, visit andreaherzer.com, Instagram.com/incurablefaith and facebook.com/authorandreaherzer.