Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

I Give Up

Today I feel like giving up. Oh, I’ve felt this way before but I confess at this moment, in the very moment that I type these words, I am at the most difficult time and place of my life. This is real. Honest. Transparent. Probably too transparent. Yet something tells me to write it and be honest because I know there are others who feel like giving up too. I know it. I pray that God brings those dear ones to this blog and encourages them.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11

Why are you downcast, oh my soul?

I’ll tell you why I feel like giving up, though I know it won’t adequately capture what’s going on with me. It’d be the same if you were writing about your heartache. It’s difficult to convey the depth and width of the pain. As I write this, I’ve been battling what specialists believe is a persistent and chronic lyme disease. After two plus years of treatment, I’ve made no progress. I endure severe pain on a daily basis. I feel like a 37 year-old trapped in an 87 year-old’s body. I have a vast array of symptoms in addition to the pain, including insomnia (which is why I’m writing this at 1am), gastric issues, POTS symptoms affecting the heart, dizziness, chronic sinus and other infections, splitting headaches, intense fatigue and more. I struggle with depression and anxiety with full-blown panic attacks (which I have never experienced before). I also struggle with the results of multiple prescribed medications and having to withdraw from them. There’s a lot more but I won’t babble on. I can only say that it’s horrible having to live this way, and I have no reason to believe I’ll find remission any time soon.

In addition to the chronic illness, my life is riddled with what seems like problem after problem, trial after trial. It’s almost become comical. I won’t go into detail as much of it is private, but I can only say that I often, throughout the day, shake my head in disbelief at how badly everything goes. Relationships. Finances. Events. Treatment. Even day to day living…like with the household. Everything. Everything goes wrong. It’s shocking. It’s so disheartening. It’s so hard to push forward. That’s why I want to give up.

Now, when I say I want to give up, I’m not saying that I want to take my life. That is something I will never do. I would never do that to my daughter. I would never do that to my Lord. When I say “give up”, what I mean is “give in”. I feel like giving in to despair. I feel like giving in to full-blown grief. I feel like isolating. I don’t feel like going shopping, being social or even talking, really. I feel like spending my time with my kiddo and just letting it all fall apart, since it seems to be always falling apart around me anyways. That’s how I feel, but let me assert with confidence that giving up is not the answer.

Suffering is a part of life, and some suffer more than others. Some Christians suffer more than others. It’s life in a fallen world. Sickness, stress, pain, divorce, brokenness…it was never part of God’s perfect plan. Sin brought it in along with death and decay. We live in a world that groans because of the pain and sin and destruction. We await with hurting hearts the redemption of the returning Messiah. It’s a mess, friends. I know this is the truth and so I do not resent God for the pain I’m experiencing. I know He didn’t send it to me or inflict me with it. Now, He may be allowing it, but that’s not the same thing. He has promised to make beauty from ashes and to redeem our suffering. He is the Rescuer. Deliverer. Savior. Father. King of Glory. He is all and everything and perfection.

 

““The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Deut. 32:4

“To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17

“For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.” Deut 4:31

““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” Rev 21:4

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

I believe what God says in His Word. I believe it, but I’m weak. I’m broken. Brokenhearted. Broken in body. Broken Spiritually. So here’s the good news….God can and does work in our brokenness. If you’re broken and hurting like me, know that God isn’t finished. He is working and stronger than ever in our weakness and brokenness. We are not alone. We are not lost causes. God has not and will not ever forsake us…..even if we give up for a while.

 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Ex 15:2

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29

 

We may not know what God is doing…I don’t. I don’t understand it. I ask Him, “why? Why me Lord? How can You love me and allow this? Am I cursed? Have I done something wrong to have earned this constant pain?” I don’t know what He’s doing but I can trust in Him because He said I could and because He is good. He is God. He is love. I trust in His character and His promises. He never promised a perfect or pain-free life on earth. He promised salvation from the grave and everlasting life. He promised we would not drown when the waters overtook us. We would not burn when the fire burned all around. We would be pressed but not crushed. We would be broken but not destroyed.

 

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Cor 13:12

 

All we need to do is cling to Him and wait. Wait. One more day. One more hour if need be. We need to wait and not give up. Can we not wait for one hour? We can through the power of the Holy Spirit my friends. We can. I’m praying for you. Please pray for me too. And remember….

God is good and He loves you!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

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When Will I Be Healed? – God’s Will

12241540_10203630329638421_1285773297065267458_nAs a Christian I’ve always sought to understand the balance in God’s Word about asking for and believing in miraculous healings. I’ve studied God’s Word as I’ve seen conflict in The Church about if God heals, how God heals and when God heals. With so many different mindsets and opinions out there amongst God’s bride, it’s important for us to study to show ourselves approved and seek to understand as best we can what God’s will for healing is…because that’s what really matters.

As we study the Bible, we learn about God’s character. We see balance in His character. We see sovereignty and also the gift of free will. We see wisdom and also the occasional blindings for a higher purpose. We see immediate answers to prayer and others that take time. In all that God does and all that He allows, we see purpose and perfection because His will is perfect. He is always good.

So when we talk about healing, I immediately expect to see those characteristics of God in the works and indeed I do! So here’s what I’ve learned about healing God’s way, and how I apply it to my situation in dealing with Chronic Lyme Disease:

  1. God does heal. There’s no doubt about it. We see examples of Jesus healing and of God healing through the prayer of His people repeatedly in scripture. While some insist that the gift of healing stopped with the apostles, my question for them would be why? What scripture do you have to support that theory? See, I’m not about just trusting the opinion of feelings of mankind. The Bible says the heart can be deceptive. I’ve seen no scripture to indicate that the gift of healing isn’t for the church today, so I believe God does heal. I’ve seen Him heal both miraculously and through medicine. Glory to God!

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

2. God doesn’t always heal…at least not on earth. God healed many in scripture, but some He chose not to heal. He didn’t heal Paul of his failing eyesight or the thorn in his side. He didn’t heal Timothy of his frequent infirmities and stomach issues. Yet He raised Tabitha from the dead through the prayers of Peter. We see that God does heal, but sometimes He chooses not to. You may have faith to trust God to heal you, but do you have enough faith to trust Him through the illness He allows you to have?

“No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” 1 Timothy 5:23

3. God has a purpose in healing or not healing. I’ve been to churches that claim healing as if they are single-handedly controlling the power of the Holy Spirit, slinging Him around at their will…but isnt’ it supposed to be God’s will? Since when do we have the authority or power to command the Holy Spirit? Let us not forget the Holy Spirit is a part of the triune God. As we come before the Lord to seek healing, we ask for it…we ought not to demand. We ought not to “claim” it as it is our right rather than God’s good pleasure. I see a lack of humility in that approach and an underestimation of God’s sovereignty and His perfect wisdom. See, God knows why He heals some and doesn’t heal others. He has a purpose in it all. He healing many throughout scripture but He didn’t heal others and it was for a specific purpose. Perhaps He has a higher purpose for my suffering. Perhaps my suffering will be a ministry to help me reach others (it already has served that purpose).  Perhaps my suffering will somehow bring God glory as people see my faith stay strong in the midst of pain. Perhaps I need this struggle in my life. God’s ways are so far above ours. When we claim healing and demand from God what WE think we need and what WE want in our lives, we are almost telling God that we know better. We are seeking our will instead of His will. Nay, I will trust in Him and His ways and His perfect knowledge.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self  is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

4. Faith in sickness and health…. just like the marriage vows in most weddings, we ought to pledge our love and honor to the Lord in times of sickness and health equally. Our faith should be just as strong in those weak and painful times as in the healthy, easy times. Faith isn’t believing that nothing bad will ever happen to us. True faith is trusting God and allowing Him to help us through it no matter what comes our way. The disciples were beaten and killed. Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith. Our Lord Jesus was mocked, beaten and killed for us though He was without sin. The Bible warns us that these times will bring pain, trial, illness, testing and persecution. Any teacher who tells you that life with Jesus should bring you health, wealth and prosperity on a worldly level is selling you something that’s definitely not based on the Word of God. It leaves Christians confused when times of hardship come, and they will come. Faith in good times and bad. Faith in sickness and health.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

 

And so, dear brothers and sisters, take heart and rest assured that your lack of healing is not necessarily because of a lack of faith. It’s not because you are a bad Christian and definitely not a sign that God’s turned His back on you. Do we need faith to be healed? Yes. Jesus said we do. There’s no doubt that our faith plays a part in it. But are the faithful guaranteed earthly healing? No. Do we have the power to demand the Holy Spirit heal us on our terms? No. Do we stop asking for healing? Never.

Pray for healing.

Know that God can heal.

Surrender to His will and trust Him.

Glorify Him in sickness and in health.

Know that one day, we will have heavenly, resurrected bodies where there will be no more pain, sickness or death. Praise God! The glory that’s coming so far exceeds the pain of this life. It’ll all be worth it one day, friends. God’s promises that. Do you believe Him?

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My Experience with Pain

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Pain. Anyone who has experienced a broken bone, has had to pass a kidney stone, has given birth, has suffered severe injuries or has chronic illness understands pain. Everyone goes through times of physical pain. People get arthritis, back aches, muscle pain, headaches, etc. Pain is a part of life. For some, pain is a part of daily life. For the chronically ill or those who suffer from lifelong injuries, pain is a constant enemy that tries very hard to beat us up physically, emotionally and even spiritually.

I’ve suffered from pain for the last six years. That’s about when I believe my Lyme Disease started. It began with arthritic-like pain in what they call the cross area of the back (neck and shoulders). Pain was the first symptom and it has never left me….not in six years. I’ve had good and bad days, but it’s always there and it’s always getting worse.

Over the course of the six years I saw many doctors in search of answer and help. I had other symptoms as well and so I was tested by GPs for markers for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and more. They would run blood panels and find no answers so eventually they would tell me I was fine and to go home. I knew I wasn’t fine. I also saw many specialists. Over the six years I saw a cardiologist, a neurologist, a gastroenterologist and two rheumatologists. They did x-rays of my neck and saw arthritis. One rheumatologist told me I just have a bad neck (forget about the rest of the pain) and just to take good care of it. The other gave me a shot in the shoulder and then sent me to a few months of physical therapy. The pain continued and got worse.

All of these doctors and still there were no real answers for the pain, and definitely no solutions. It was hard but for a long time the pain was tolerable. It wasn’t fun, but I could pretty much do what I needed to do. The other symptoms (dizziness, heart issues, numbness and tingling, stomach problems, headaches, etc.) were also frustrating but not terribly bad. Then I went through a tremendously stressful event in my life and it put my symptoms into overdrive.

The past 12 months have been indescribable in many ways. How do you explain that kind of relentless and crippling pain? In the morning, before I’m fully awake, there is a brief period of intermission between sleep and awake where the pain hasn’t registered yet. I value those few seconds because in a moment all of the sensors begin to awaken, reminding my brain of the widespread pain throughout my entire body. I can tell you that in those moments when the pain comes alive again to plague me for another day, sometimes all I can do is weep just a little and cry out to the Lord for help.  I imagine it’s how someone might feel after being beaten up the night before by a team of boxers. Except there are no bruises…no evidence of the pain that anyone can see.

So this pain…the pain that never goes away and never lets up… it does leave you feeling beaten up. Obviously the physical pain is there. It also affects you emotionally and spiritually. Emotionally there are times when the pain gets the better of you. It steals joy away. It reminds you that your life isn’t what you thought it would be. You can’t do what you want to do. You feel alone (even with loved ones offering support). You feel like no one understands. It can affect your marriage and other relationships. With Lyme, you worry about finances and you’re never sure if you’re choosing the right treatment protocol. Sometimes there’s a lot of fear. And sometimes you just can’t handle the turmoil of knowing that you may be looking at a lifetime of pain. It never lets up. Never a break. Imagine having the flu forever. Every day. The pain can bring you to times of struggle with depression and anxiety for sure.

Any Christian who has experience pain, physically and emotionally, knows that it can be a spiritual struggle as well. Accepting that God is allowing you to suffer isn’t always easy. We know the He never promised an easy life here. His disciples all suffered. Jesus suffered more than we can imagine. Still, in those times when you cry out to the Lord for help and healing and yet it doesn’t come at that moment, it can be hard. We ask God why this is happening to us. Why me when I have strived to serve you? Sometimes we feel overlooked or abandoned by our churches, often because we don’t let them see how badly we’re suffering and that we need help. We don’t want anyone to know that we are struggling. We don’t want to complain or be a burden.

Pain beats you up but I fight back and I’ll never stop fighting. I’ve been a Christian for many years and I believe God has a purpose in the pain and suffering. He brings me comfort and He reminds me that this present pain is not worthy to be compared to the glory that’s coming. He gets me through day by day, step by step. I praise Him that I can still teach and that I can still go out and spend time with my daughter. I know that He can heal me completely, and of course that’s my daily prayer, but I also trust Him that if He tarries in bringing healing it’s for a reason. I know that He has abundant grace for me on those days when I take my eyes off of Him and have them focused on the pain. He loves me when I fail and on those days when I let the pain get the better of me. He never leaves me or forsakes me. He is my Deliverer and my Comforter! Thank You Jesus!

This blog may have some across as dark and miserable, but I leave you with words of great joy. Beloved, there will be an end to pain! Yes there will!!! Pain may attack us and beat us up while we are here on earth, but there is glory and healing and complete restoration coming when we put our faith in Jesus! We will not suffer forever. We will not be left in torment. We will be delivered and restored and every pain will be chained up and thrown into the pit. Pain loses! Jesus wins! He already has won. So, even in the hardest times here on earth, we must keep our eyes on Him. We must remember we have victory in Jesus over pain and sin and every other evil thing. Victory over pain!

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To Help You Understand My Chronic Pain

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HeartBroken-Tears are the Baptism of Soul via photopin (license)

“I feel terrible.”

“I know.”

“You do? Do you really?”

There are some things in life that one must experience to fully understand. Infertility. Rape. Depression. Losing a child. Being abused. You see, we can look at situations and people and have a deep concern, empathy and heartbreak for them. We can see people suffering and try to imagine how awful it would be to experience such tragedies, and yet we can’t fully understand their pain unless we’ve walked in those shoes. For the person in pain and suffering, there is a deep desire for others, especially loved ones, to understand what we’re going through, and yet we wouldn’t hope for anyone to really have to struggle as we do.

My husband recently told me that he wished he could have my pain for a day so that he could better understand. It was a thoughtful thing to say. He makes every effort to understand and I appreciate that. So in honor of his desire to see more clearly what I am dealing with, I’m going to give as truthful an account as possible in hopes that understanding will grow, helping people to minister better to those who suffer with chronic pain.

I don’t like talking about my pain. I am very much the type of person who wants to make people happy and be cheerful and put on a brave face, but too much pretense weaves around ourselves something of a lonely cocoon. If no one knows we are hurting, then we suffer alone. There is no one to talk to or to pray for you. Since chronic pain is often felt but not seen, you are expected to function the way you look on the outside. It’s exhausting. So, I’m going to be honest and my prayer is that this helps others like me and the people who love them.

1, My Diagnosis – Everyone’s pain is different, and there are a variety of causes for chronic pain. To this day, after seeing many specialists and doctors, I am technically diagnosed with fibromyalgia, though I feel confident that there is more to it. Being somewhat “undiagnosed” means I am constantly searching for answers. It means I don’t know what to expect. It means there really is no treatment. I often feel like I’ve no where to turn for help and that going to the doctor is a waste of time. It’s scary and frustrating. I am not really being treated for fibro, though my doctor does ask about my pain on regular visits. I’m not on medication.

  1. My Pain – I go through flare-ups of pain and various symptoms on a cyclical basis. I’m not trying to whine or complain here, but I am going to share some of the pain I experience either on a daily or cyclical basis. Joint pain is top of the list. I always have pain in my shoulders, neck and upper back, as well as various tender points. The pain flares up and those flare ups can last a long time. Right now I’m dealing with one that has lasted about 6 weeks. The pain right now is also in most of my other joints. I have arthritic pain in my fingers, hands, feet, back, knees, etc. I suffer headaches, brain fog and strange sensations. I have had gastrointestinal problems for several years resulting in chronic gastritis (inflammation of stomach lining). I have to be cautious about my diet to avoid horrible stomach pain. I also have very bad reflux. The fatigue can be severe. I get dizzy often. There are times when my pain is so severe that I can barely move. It is worse in the mornings. It wakes me up early because I can’t lay down any longer. This all began around the time I turned 30…so around 4 years now.
  1. Invisible Illness – People with chronic pain understand something that others don’t….just because I look okay doesn’t mean I am ok. There are days when my condition overwhelms me and I wonder how I can make it through the day, yet I can’t slow down. I can’t stop. I have to work, clean and keep up with my responsibilities as if I were healthy. I just know there are people sitting at home collecting disability who suffer less than I do on a regular basis. My disease is invisible to the human eye. As a result, it feels as though the whole world is expecting you to just keep at it. It feels as if no one believes you are hurting and they can’t possibly understand how much.
  1. Feeling Like a Failure – While I am struggling to keep up with my responsibilities, I also know I’m failing quite a bit. I can’t keep up the house like I’d like to or do as much as I want to do. My husband has to help me around the house more than I’d like. I need to say no sometimes to various ministry opportunities and events. I just can’t do it all. I struggle with feeling like a failure as a mother and wife. I know the enemy uses these things to feed lies to me, and so I cling to the Word of God that He will work all of this together for good. I trust Him that He will carry me when I can’t go another step.
  1. Emotional Side Effects – If you think the physical pain is the only part of it, you’re missing something. The emotional suffering is also very much a struggle. You see, there is something emotionally devastating about chronic illness. Each morning, day after day, I wake up to pain. I struggle through pain, and other symptoms, throughout the day. I go to sleep in pain. It’s constant. It goes on and on and on and there is no cure. I can expect to be in pain for the rest of my life, though I do pray for healing according to the Lord’s will and timing. Imagine how awful it feels to be sick and then go on to imagine that sickness is going to be your life for the rest of your days. Imagine never having a day where you feel perfectly well again. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating and so very sad. If not for the blessed assurance I have in Jesus, I’d feel so lost. I don’t know how people survive this pain without Him.

This may seem like a bit of a downer, but I really felt compelled to tell the truth here about what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I know that my husband longs to understand it better, and maybe you have a loved one suffering with pain. Your loved one needs you to acknowledge the struggle and believe in what he/she is dealing with. You know, it’s easy to minister to and care for a person who is suffering with a short term illness. You help out and then she gets better. A person with chronic illness is a whole other deal. This person will need your understanding, love and support probably forever. It’s hard. It’s a big job. So blessed that there are people out there who love God enough to love His people even in these long-term illnesses.

If you are married to someone with chronic pain, I know you are suffering too. It’s hard to watch your spouse hurt and not be able to fix it. I encourage you to be understanding and supportive. You will have to help pick up the slack around the house and help take care of your beloved. You will have to understand when he/she can’t keep up or must decline an activity. You will have to be there to hold things together when his/her world seems to be falling apart. Hang in there and trust the Lord.

As I write this, I am aware that publishing it is going to make me look weak and that it exposes to others something that I’ve tried to keep hidden. You see, I don’t want to be known as the lady who’s always sick. On the other hand, I need support too. I need friends who pray for me. I need help from time to time when it gets bad. My husband needs to understand, and my guess is that other spouses need this too. While it all seems pretty disheartening, please know that it is the hope and grace of Jesus Christ that keeps me going. I know God has not forsaken me and that He will get me through. I believe He has a purpose for allowing it. I do pray for healing and trust Him. I’ll never give up hope. I’ll never stop praising my Lord. He gives me strength day by day to endure this thorn in my flesh. I pray that all who suffer with chronic pain and illness would know that hope and love of Jesus. We need Him to get through this.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m happy to answer questions and I’d love to hear your stories too. God be glorified and may He bless you abundantly!

* * * Added: have asked me if I take anything for pain. I wanted to share that I am taking Plexus products for pain, better health and weight loss. I am noticing that my flare ups seem to be less intense most of the time. The longer I’m on it, the better I feel overall. I’m not saying this to sell it, but because I believe it is helping people. If you’d like to know more about Plexus, let me know. You can also check my website… Radiant Health

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