God sent a fish my way six years ago in the form of physical ailments. As hard as I flailed and fought to find my way out, my fish wasn't anywhere near vomiting. And I'm glad. When we feel the heat of our trials being turned up, our natural inclination is to find the nearest exit and get out. And if we do, we will miss God's best.
What if Jonah's whale had vomited him up after the first day, or the second? If so, Jonah would not have been brought to the place where he was able to humbly submit to the Lord and pray,
"When I was in trouble, LORD, I prayed to you, and you listened to me. From deep in the world of the dead, I begged for your help, and you answered my prayer. You threw me down to the bottom of the sea. The water was churning all around; I was completely covered by your mighty waves. I thought I was swept away from your sight, never again to see your holy temple. I was almost drowned by the swirling waters that surrounded me. Seaweed had wrapped around my head. I had sunk down below the underwater mountains; I knew that forever, I would be a prisoner there. But, you, LORD God, rescued me from that pit. When my life was slipping away, I remembered you-- and in your holy temple you heard my prayer. All who worship worthless idols turn from the God who offers them mercy. But with shouts of praise, I will offer a sacrifice to you, my LORD. I will keep my promise, because you are the one with power to save." (Jonah 2)
Then and only then did the Lord command the fish to vomit Jonah out onto dry land.
Since the time my new doctor had agreed to remove the cyst which was so rudely encroaching on the space in my spinal canal, my husband's wondered aloud a few times about why, when another doctor had found the cyst a couple of years ago, didn't he remove it then? There are a lot of physical answers to that question, but the spiritual truth of the matter is that I hadn't learned all God wanted to teach me through this trial yet. And once the intended transformation had taken place, the Lord gave permission for the surgery.
I think about a scenario where the Lord would have allowed me to find the exit and escape the heat of my trial early. Oh, how lacking in spiritual riches I would be.
Don't ever be in a hurry to escape a trial. The Lord is with you in the heat as He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Embrace your Lord in the trial - it is a gift given by a sovereign God Who is in complete control of every degree all the while you're in it. Trust Him, pray to Him, love Him. No matter how dark the darkness, He is there.
The heat you feel is the heat that is melting down your faith once again so that the dross of doubt, and mistrust, and insecurity and any other impurity can be seen so that we can then give God permission to remove it, and our faith becomes that much more pure. That process will take place hundreds and even thousands of times so that we can then present to God our most holy faith - something much sweeter than lemonade.
And I'd like to add that I am still, as of now, feeling all the same symptoms that this surgery is supposed to take care of. The thought, though, is that those nerves are still irritated from the surgery itself and it may take a while to feel the changes. This is part of trusting in the Lord, too. He led me to have the surgery, and I have to know that it wasn't for no reason.
Thank you all for your prayers as I went through the surgery and now as I'm going through the recovery process. Even the recovery is a time to still learn more trust, more patience and more gratefulness. It's a slow process. Typing out this blog is a much as I've done in the two weeks since my surgery - which was a crazy ordeal. The cyst ended up being much larger than originally thought and even travelled down my spinal cord about six inches. The bony plates that protrude from the vertebrae had to be removed from three of them in order to get to the cyst, and they were put back with metal plates and screws. I'm hoping that will give me an excuse to never have an MRI again. Most of the recovery takes about three months but the bones will take up to a year to completely heal.
I'll tell you though, seeing God's love in action through some of the sweetest friends in the world, and even through some precious souls who I've never even met who have prayed for me, asked about me, sent me cards, and brought us food is an awesome and humbling thing to experience. And a special thank you to my family - my kids who have pitched in to help with hardly a whimper, and my husband, who has practically run himself ragged to do for me what I can't do for myself right now, which is just about everything. If the goodness of all these people are an indication of what heaven will be like, I'm going to blessed to have some amazing neighbors.
In His Hands,