When You Can’t Imagine Living Like This…

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A few weeks ago, my arms completely gave out as I was getting ready.

I couldn’t even get dressed by myself. I was exhausted, and it wasn’t even nine in the morning. I didn’t want to go on like this. What was this day going to hold?

I cried out to the Lord, telling him that all of this felt colossally unfair. I ended by declaring, “I can’t live like this for the rest of my life. I just can’t do it!” I felt frustrated and angry and overwhelmed all at the same time. I realize that may sound deeply unspiritual, but that’s how I felt. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life with those physical struggles.

After my lament, I was quiet. I had said all I wanted to say. And then I waited. I’m not sure if I was expecting a response from God, but I knew I needed to be still and listen.

In the silence, the words, “I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life. I’m just asking you to live like this today,” came to my mind. It felt like God was speaking to me.

Immediately, an unmistakable sense of peace settled over me. My situation was unchanged, but I felt strangely different. Today was a finite period that I could focus on. Today seemed doable. Today was much less frightening than “the rest of my life.” Coping with anything today seemed possible. Possible, that is, with God.

After that flood of relief had washed over me, I thought of those words again: “I’m not asking you to live like this for the rest of your life. I’m just asking you to live like this today.” Could they have been the words of God to me? Were they consistent with God’s character? What does Scripture say about the words that came to me?

I remembered that Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). God will meet our needs today. His grace is available for today. We are not to be anxious about the future, or even tomorrow, for every day has its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).

The future is in God’s hands. Tomorrow morning may bring joy (Psalm 30:5) and even a miracle, for his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

The widow of Zarephath’s oil and flour were miraculously available as long as she needed it. (1 Kings 17:14-16). After Hezekiah prayed, 185,000 Assyrians were killed by the angel of the Lord without Israel even going to battle. (2 Kings 19:35). Gideon defeated the vast army of the Midianites with only 300 men (Judges 7). None of them humanly saw a way out of their situation. And often we don’t either. But with God all things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23).

God reassured me that I didn’t need to despair over the future. But he wasn’t reassuring me that my circumstances would change if I trusted him. He was asking me to endure today and trust him for tomorrow.

But today. “How would I manage today?” I wondered? Today still loomed before me with all its difficulties.

I was reminded that God’s grace is sufficient for me. That his power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). That I needed to wait for him and he would strengthen me (Isaiah 40:30) and would supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19). He is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18). If I would draw near to him, then he would draw near to me. (James 4:8) And as I went through my day, I needed to rejoice in what God was doing, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks even in difficult circumstances, knowing all of this was God’s will for me. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Rejoicing in trials is not easy for me. I have to deliberately focus on what God is doing in the midst of them. I must remind myself that although my trials seem heavy and endless, they are light and momentary in relation to eternity. And they are preparing for me a weight of glory that is beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

When my struggles feel relentless, they force me to trust God day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath. Pain, whether physical or emotional or spiritual, has a way of capturing my attention. I can either focus that attention on myself and sink into despair, or I direct my thoughts to Jesus, and ask him for grace.  

That moment by moment dialogue with God changes me. I see his sufficiency and his glory in ways that I would never have seen otherwise. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Suffering has a unique way of putting me in God’s presence, beholding his glory, because I am constantly crying out to him.

How did my day end up? Honestly, it was hard. My husband, Joel, helped me get dressed. I had enough energy to drive my modified minivan to massage therapy which I desperately needed. The therapist was waiting at the door to walk me in- something she’d never done before. Immediately, I saw how God was providing for me.

Back at home, Joel got me everything I needed. But things did not go the way I would have chosen. I had trouble concentrating. I was in intermittent pain. I felt frustrated at my weakness.

All I could do was cry out to God. And do the next thing. I understood more clearly what it meant to be “afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; struck down but not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4:8,9b). While the day was hard, God ensured it would not crush me.

My pain and strength ebb and flow daily, so I often don’t know what to expect until I get out of bed. This has been true of emotional pain as well. But even when the day holds suffering, I am comforted to know that God is not asking me to live with this pain and weakness for the rest of my life. He is just asking me to live with it today. Some days he will do far more abundantly than all I can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20). And other days, he will sustain me in the storm.

But every day, he will provide all that I need.

 

  • January 18, 2018 - 9:27 pm

    Deborah - Dear Vaneetha,
    Thank you…for honesty. For transparency.
    God delights in using our brokenness for His glory, and over the past 16 months, your posts have glorified God mightily and encouraged me to take the next breath when I sometimes didn’t think I could. I have been praying much for you and will continue to so do. You are a blessing….ReplyCancel

    • January 18, 2018 - 9:43 pm

      Vaneetha - I’m so thankful that my posts have both glorified God and encouraged you to take the next breath, Deborah. There is no higher praise than that. Thank you for praying and thank you for writing.ReplyCancel

  • January 18, 2018 - 10:06 pm

    Jacob David - Ever encouraging words by Vaneetha. Just the encouragement I needed. Yes, I have cried many times to the Lord that ‘ I cannot take it anymore’ , but He replied ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made whole in your weakness’ .
    The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years, they did not get their food for the whole year, or month or even a week. They were supplied their daily bread, Manna.
    We need not worry about the future. He will supply our daily strength.ReplyCancel

    • January 19, 2018 - 7:43 am

      Vaneetha - Amen, Jacob. God will supply all we need. Every day.ReplyCancel

  • January 19, 2018 - 10:41 am

    Josiane - Dear Vaneetha. thank you for your testimony, this week I thought to myself, am i going to feel that way for the rest of my life. But you have shown that God will help me today. May God bless you and strenghten you.ReplyCancel

    • January 19, 2018 - 6:13 pm

      Vaneetha - I am so glad this encouraged you today, Josiane. Thanks for writing!ReplyCancel

  • January 19, 2018 - 7:53 pm

    Shelley - Vaneetha, I needed to hear this today. Thank you for being an instrument in Gods hands to share truth and grace to His people. I’ll be praying for sufficient grace each day for you and relief from pain.ReplyCancel

    • January 19, 2018 - 8:52 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you for praying Shelley! So thankful the Lord used this in your life. Thank you for writing.ReplyCancel

  • January 19, 2018 - 11:25 pm

    Mike R - O the perfect timing of your post! You put down exactly what I have been going through in this time as my disease has increased and I have spent most of the last two months in my back. I have been plumbing new depths in my understanding of Job and sinking to the deeper parts of Psalm 39, trying to seal my lips from complaining but finally bursting out, “You have done this to me,” and then lying silent before the Lord. Finally I tell the Lord, “I can’t live like this….”

    How merciful our God is to have included the complaints of Job and David in the Bible. How humble he is to listen to my complaints and not strike me. He patiently applies his firm hand but never without love.

    In a strange way I am grateful that there is little help offered by my doctors who can only quietly shake their heads and offer the honest answer that modern medicine has no cure and nothing that can relieve most of my symptoms, for it points me directly to the sovereign hand of God, not allowing me or anyone else to deny his power in an over my condition, to levy a heavier load or to restore health. My life is in his hands.

    Indeed it strips me of my hope in my favorite idols and refuses me the life that I want. It shows me my love of self and the hardness of my heart. It reveals the shallowness of my faith and the flaws in my theology, which has so often been my secret idol. I am gently deposited before the Cross and told to find my hope not in health and not in my desires but in the empty tomb.

    May God bless you in your work and health, Vaneetha.ReplyCancel

    • January 20, 2018 - 3:11 pm

      Vaneetha - Your comments always inspire me, Mike. Love all you wrote, especially this: “My life is in his hands.Indeed [my pain and weakness]strips me of my hope in my favorite idols and refuses me the life that I want. It shows me my love of self and the hardness of my heart. It reveals the shallowness of my faith and the flaws in my theology, which has so often been my secret idol. I am gently deposited before the Cross and told to find my hope not in health and not in my desires but in the empty tomb.” Thanks for writing and showing us God’s sufficiency.ReplyCancel

  • January 20, 2018 - 7:43 am

    carolyn - thank you for your faith and words. God’s words are what keeps my eyes lifted up. Praying for you and all who need God’s moment by moment grace and strength to keep movingReplyCancel

    • January 20, 2018 - 3:06 pm

      Vaneetha - So thankful that God used this post, and that His word keeps your eyes lifted up. Thank you for your prayers and thank you for writing!ReplyCancel

  • January 20, 2018 - 9:23 am

    John B - What you’ve written brings much clarity to my own walk with God and suffering. You certainly have gone to great lengths to fight through this, endure and pursue victory. You remind me of Job. Thank you for doing so much hard work to blaze a trail which I can follow.ReplyCancel

    • January 20, 2018 - 3:12 pm

      Vaneetha - So encouraged this brings comfort and clarity to you in your own journey of suffering. Thank you for writing, John.ReplyCancel

  • January 21, 2018 - 7:36 am

    Jamila - Thank you so much for your honesty and words of encouragement. It has been a privilege to read and also be comforted by the posts you have written. Thank you again!ReplyCancel

  • January 21, 2018 - 5:04 pm

    Sherry B - Needed this so badly Bless you.ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2018 - 10:50 am

    Hosea Long - WOW! and WOW! again.ReplyCancel

  • January 23, 2018 - 12:24 pm

    Debby - Thank you for sharing your story. It is a wonderful encouragement. I struggle to find the balance between waiting and trusting God’s sovereignty and provision while also pursuing treatments that can provide some relief. I know that some people with my autoimmune condition experience remission, and yet I have experienced so many roadblocks and detours. I’ve learned so much about the wonderful intricacies of how God has created our bodies, and continue to feel passionate about sharing insights that might be helpful to others. There are so many wonderful advances in integrative and functional medicine. But as my symptoms seem to get more challenging I seek to trust Him more for all the unknowns and the assurance of His sustaining presence and grace, even while I try to remain proactive in my health. thank you.ReplyCancel

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