At the end of December, I was hosting a Christmas party at my house for some friends when I started feeling ill. Days later I was in the emergency room with severe abdominal pain and was diagnosed with diverticulitis. I spent Christmas in bed and as the days continued to unfold with my illness, I only got worse. Two hospital stays later, I was transferred to a larger facility to be put under the care of a surgeon who could monitor my specific case.
During my stay, I had complications with IV’s, struggled daily with nausea and vomiting, and dealt with a faulty drain that was put inside of me to clear up an abscess. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink. I was starving, thirsty, and in incredible pain relieved only by heavy medications that left me numb and foggy.
Friends and family came to visit, pray with me and give me their faces in the midst of my suffering. I was surrounded and supported and held up. All of it left me feeling grateful and humbled. And when I was alone in those long days confined to a hospital bed, I found comfort and solace in praise and worship music.
Be still my soul, the Lord is on the side.
Bear patiently, the cross of grief or pain…..
Through it all, through it all my eyes are you.
Through it all, through it all it is well….
You’re a good, good Father
It’s who You are….
Christ alone, Cornerstone,
Weak made strong in the Savior’s Love….
The lyrics comforted me and reminded me of what was true about God in the midst of my physical suffering. He is good, He is faithful, He is for me, with me and He provides. Worship seemed to be the only way out of worry, fear, anger, frustration and helplessness. God felt close and caring, and I didn’t feel like I was walking these hard places alone.
I ended up needing to undergo surgery to have a drain put in to clear the abscess. I had hoped to also have a colorectomy at the same time, but my doctor said my colon was far too inflamed to operate and I would have to go back for that surgery at a later time. After a month in the hospital, I was finally allowed to go home on a liquid diet and IV antibiotics.
Recovering at home has been a hard and lengthy process. I’ve had to depend on the care of others to get through each day. Only in the last few weeks have I returned to work part time, been able to consistently keep down liquids and food, and found my energy has returned. But as I’ve felt better, I have grown in anger.
I am angry that I can’t eat a real meal. Surgery is coming up at the beginning of April, and I am angry that I have to go to the hospital again. I am angry that I have to go through another recovery process, and have to depend on others all over again to take care of me, my home and my children. I am angry at myself, convinced I could have prevented all of this from ever happening.
Underneath my anger, I am a scared and terrified girl. I am scared that I will not only spend the rest of my life sick, but that in my sickness, I will be left feeling unloved and uncared for by God if He chooses not to bring healing here.
Worry, fear, anger, frustration and helplessness have crept back in to my heart, except now, God doesn’t feel as close or caring as He did before.
I must admit that I don’t fully trust God to take care of me. It seems as though trials and suffering and how we respond to them reveal to us how we really feel, what we really think and what it is we really believe in. After years of knowing Jesus and a thousand beautiful, shining things in my story to point to, I still struggle to believe that He is good.
In Mark 9, we see a father bring his demon-possessed son to Jesus begging for Him to drive out the spirit and heal him. The father was desperate, and it seems as though this Jesus was his last and only hope. The father says “If you can do this, please do it!” And Jesus replies, “If I can? Everything is possible for one who believes.” The father cries out, “I do believe – but help my unbelief!”
Can you relate to this man like I can? I believe – I believe so many things about Jesus. But, I need help in the places I don’t believe too. My faith is often rocked by circumstances, by places I have been wounded and by Evil, who continues to assault me over and over again. Sometimes, we need help to believe. Oh I so want to believe He is good all the time, in every single thing. I ache with the wanting to believe that truth.
So today, as I await surgery and look to a future that has never been more uncertain or felt more scary, I cry out to God asking Him to come in to the places that I don’t believe. To shed His light of truth and grace in the darkness and trust that He will help me with my unbelief.
Deeply rooted in South Texas, Jennifer Stamness is a sunshine-lover, wife and mother to two young boys. She enjoys creating beauty in places like writing, music, decorating and throwing parties. She desires to follow Jesus into the unknown places He invites her to and is thankful for His abundant and amazing grace. Jennifer writes, dreams and shares pieces of her story here.