The body that you have is yours. You only have one. This is it.
During the first part of June of this year, I was feeling under the weather. Then one morning, a stabbing pain started down my left leg. Within a few days, the pain had travelled down my left leg and then my right leg. The pain intensified. I was barely able to walk. Sleep was nearly impossible.
Because of COVID, all winter long we had no heat in the food pantry where I work. All the doors were wide open to ensure ventilation. It was miserably cold and usually, by the end of the day, my legs were blocks of ice. So, when the pain shot into my legs I assumed old man arthritis had finally caught up with me. But then again, I had other symptoms. Fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, sore throat, fatigue and then memory loss plagued me.
After about a week of this misery, I started to think about this affliction. I turned to Hayden, one of four of my grandsons who had had Lyme Disease in the past few years. I asked about the symptoms he had experienced. The next morning I called my Drs. Office and requested a test for Lyme Disease. It was positive.
What a brutal disease. For six weeks, I was in extreme pain. Movement of any kind worsened the agony. I slept for only brief cat naps around the clock. I had to lie down to get any relief. Standing, sitting, and walking was out.
I am blessed to have the support of a Dr. and his entire staff who are dedicated to helping others through these health challenges. With their help and support I am on the mend. I recently met with him again with a request. I am getting better but please help me get better faster.
The food pantry is my calling. I need to be working at the pantry and meeting and talking with folks, solving problems, helping people meet their needs. I need to work on the pantry’s expanded mission and develop a sustainable path serving for decades to come. I need to bring God’s Word to share with others whenever it is given to me. I need to work with my grandchildren teaching them and helping them grow into the best people they can be and have fulfilling lives. I need to do these things because I am called to do this work.
So, why am I dealing with Lyme Disease.
Yes. I know. Some miserable varmint the size of a speck of dust brought me this affliction. The bacteria that invaded my body were far too small to see but knocked me down for the count. I know that part. I also am reminded that even with the help a very dedicated Dr., this isn’t going to go away overnight. I have spoken to several people who have dealt with it for years.
So, why am I dealing with Lyme Disease. How does this fit into what the Lord is calling me to do with my life?
In Romans 8:28, the apostle Paul affirmed that God can bring good out of any and all situations. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. According to the Bible, God can bring good out of bad situations, including the experience of illness.
In Numbers 12:10, When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. Miriam was stricken with leprosy in order that she and Aaron might turn from their sin.
In Psalms 119:71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
It is clear in Scripture that illness can have good results. That does not take away the pain and misery of illness.
2 Corinthians 12:7 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Illness keeps us humble.
This was Paul’s experience. Lyme Disease reminded me of my limitations. From dust I come and to dust I will return. It reminds me that I need to rely on God because the bottom line is I am weak and frail. It keeps things in perspective. Illness reminds us life is short and our days are numbered and to make the best of the time we have left.
Illness can help us grow closer to the people around us. It reminds us how much we need others. The support of my family and friends has been tremendously encouraging.
Through my experience with illness, I can identify and understand those who suffer far more than I am. Through my suffering, God is equipping me to minister to others who face similar problems. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Born in Putnam County, New York, Fanny Crosby became ill within two months of her birth. Unfortunately, the family doctor was away, and another man—pretending to be a certified doctor—treated her by prescribing hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes. Her illness eventually relented, but the treatment left her blind. When the doctor was revealed to be a quack, he disappeared. A few months later, Crosby’s father died. Her mother was forced to find work as a maid to support the family, and Fanny was mostly raised by her Christian grandmother.
Her love of poetry began early—her first verse, written at age 8, echoed her lifelong refusal to feel sorry for herself:
Oh, what a happy soul I am,
although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t,
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot, and I won’t!
While she enjoyed her poetry, she zealously memorized the Bible. Memorizing five chapters a week, even as a child she could recite the Pentateuch, the Gospels, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and many psalms chapter and verse.
Shortly before her fifteenth birthday, Crosby was sent to the recently founded New York Institute for the Blind, which would be her home for 23 years: 12 as a student, 11 as a teacher. By age 23 Crosby was addressing Congress and making friendships with presidents.
Another member of the institute, former pupil Alexander van Alstine, married Crosby in 1858. Considered one of New York’s best organists, he wrote the music to many of Crosby’s hymns. Crosby herself put music to only a few of hers, though she played harp, piano, guitar, and other instruments. Fanny Crosby wrote more than 9,000 hymns.
Though she was under contract to submit three hymns a week to her publisher and often wrote six or seven a day (for a dollar or two each), many became incredibly popular. When Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey began to use them in their crusades, they received even more attention. Among them are “Blessed Assurance,” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” “To God Be the Glory,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior,” “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” “Rescue the Perishing,” and “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross.”
She could write very complex hymns and compose music with a more classical structure (she could even improvise it), but she preferred to write simple, sentimental verses that could be used for evangelism. She continued to write her poetry up to her death, a month shy of her ninety-fifth birthday. “You will reach the river brink, some sweet day, bye and bye,” was her last stanza.
When we face serious disease and illness, it can put us in close communion with God. When we are suffering, God’s presence can be real and powerful.
I am not saying that I look forward to illness or hope for it. I am affirming the biblical truth that God can bring good out of the experience of physical afflictions.
JEREMIAH 17:14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. Amen.
The body that you have is yours. You only have one. This is it.