Why God is greater than your worst situation.
Crippling fear rushed through my body as I saw the ball fall to the ground halfway to the basket.
I tried to convince myself it must have just slipped.
That didn’t work. As hard as I tried, no matter what I did, time after time, I literally couldn’t make a shot even close to hitting the rim. Something was definitely wrong, and I was terrified to find out what it was.
Reluctantly I visited University health center the next day, only to have them refer me to a neurologist because they couldn’t quite understand what was going on (never something you want to hear from a medical staff).
As the weeks went by my muscles grew weaker and weaker to the point where I could barely put on socks or comb my hair. Everyday tasks became excruciating challenges, and by the end of the day I was so exhausted I could hardly crawl into bed– the slightest movement sent shockwaves of pain through my muscles.
Finally after four months of inconclusive test results, Monday morning I received a phone call. On the other end, I could hear the doctor struggling to get out his words. “The biopsy came back and…well…um I’m sorry to tell you that you have polymyositis”
“polymyo – what?” I uttered back.
“Polymyositis – In simple terms it’s an auto-immune disease where your immune system thinks your muscles are a virus and attacks them, causing severe muscle weakness and pain.” He said.
I went numb as I tried to process what he just said. As the doctor explained that while not fatal, the disease would be present for the rest of my life, I sat in stunned silence. That even with heavy medication, I would likely never physically be the same again. He told me that there was nothing I could really do to help it. It’s a disease that the medical world doesn’t know a lot about and they don’t even know why people get it in the first place.
The next few weeks were a dark time. All I could think about was how the future life I had always envisioned would be changed forever. I would never be able to play catch with my son. I would never play sports again (which if you know me is pretty soul crushing). I would never carry my bride over the threshold. I would never chase my daughter around the backyard.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated with God. Actually, I was altogether furious. How could a loving and perfect God let something like this happen? Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? I felt utterly, and completely abandoned.
As I continued to stew in my anger and confusion towards God, I was encouraged by a good friend to read in Psalms. Everything in me told me that it was worthless, but I was still holding on to the still, small hope inside me that was the Holy Spirit.
So I cracked open my Bible and flipped to Psalms. I had read some Psalms before, they were always some light reading and things that were nice to hear. But this time it was completely different. As I read Psalm 22 I felt David’s raw emotion towards God, a pure and honest emotion that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the Bible.
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, I find no rest.”
I felt like David was putting words to my exact emotions. So I kept reading…and reading…and reading and what I found surprised me. So many times throughout the Psalms David cries out to God in frustration, distain, and desperation. But EVERY time he ends his cries with a declaration of how good the Lord is. I couldn’t understand how two such opposite emotions could be present simultaneously in David’s life.
“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13).
That’s when I realized the secret to David’s deep affection for and trust in the Father: He lives in the truth of God’s promises, not in the situations or circumstances that surround him. He knows that His is a good and perfect Father, one that he will always fulfill the promises to His kids. David was able to rest in WHO God is, not what He does or when He does it. He CHOSE to trust and praise God no matter the circumstances.
A lot of times it feels like God has forsaken us, that He isn’t even there. That he isn’t holding up his end of the bargain. But Psalm 89 tells us differently “No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back ONE word I said.”
Everything changed when I learned to lay down my circumstances at the feet of Jesus. Trusting, and knowing that he will fulfill his promises, even if I don’t understand it. Even if it is confusing, and frustrating to the point where it keeps you up late at night. My identity is wrapped up in one thing and one thing only: being a radically, recklessly loved son of the Father.
I took my first trip back to the basketball court in over a year recently (a very long year of medication, treatments, and trips to and from the hospital). I lifted my arms, shot the ball, and saw it go through the net. Tears started pouring down my face as I started to praise the Lord for how good He has been to me.
The opposite of crippling fear is exuberant praise. I learned that on the free throw line.