My friends will be the first to tell you that I love puttering around on Facebook. I have such diverse friends that any time I pull up my home page, I can be assured of some interesting reading and conversations. Lately I’ve seen quite a few posts about strength. Most of them state that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle or that God gave us our struggles because He knew we were strong enough to handle them. Lovely thoughts, and I agree with some of it.
I have complete faith that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle at the present time. However, I don’t necessarily believe that God allows certain things because He knows we’re strong enough. I believe He allows things that He knows we can eventually be strong enough to overcome. Maybe that sounds confusing, so I’ll explain what I mean.
I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. When I heard the doctor’s words, my first thoughts were for my children and how I could keep this to myself so it wouldn’t affect them. I told 2 close friends who respected my choice not to tell the kids, but cautioned that I’d have to tell them something eventually. Knowing that the treatment would be very difficult, I began wondering how God thought I was strong enough to deal with it when He knew I was barely getting through each day with the current burdens I was carrying. I told God He was wrong – I couldn’t do it – and there needed to be another way. I wonder some times if He just sighs when I say things like that. He’s so very patient and I am so very, very stubborn. I cried a while, then decided I was going to take charge of my treatment and spent a lot of time reading about it. I had found the strength to make it through the day.
It soon became apparent that keeping things a secret wasn’t helping anyone. So I told my kids. Of course they were scared, but they also reassured me that we’d walk this road together, and if there were times I couldn’t walk it, they’d be there to help me along. I hated telling them and I felt like I’d failed them for being sick, but it relieved a burden. I had again found the strength to make it through the day.
The treatments don’t hurt, but the side effects are murder and they become progressively worse. After my treatment Tuesday I told God I couldn’t do another one. I was done, come what may. I cried to a friend because I know he understands what it’s like to live in sickness and pain every day. And when I got those feelings out, I didn’t feel quite so weak anymore. By the evening I was sick as a dog and hurting badly, but the thoughts of giving up were gone. I had found the strength to make it through one more day.
Yesterday I was barely out of bed. My rheumatoid arthritis has reared its ugly head because of the treatment I’m undergoing. Add in the other side effects and the pain was barely tolerable even with Vicodin and Oxycontin. Yeah, not a fun day. I distracted myself with TV, puzzles, and Facebook. I think I drove my friends and family crazy texting them with every silly cartoon and joke I saw. They never said a word, and I think they all knew why I was doing it. I love them for being so tolerant. As difficult as it was, I had found the strength to make it through the day.
This morning I woke up in agonizing pain. I wanted to stay in bed but my responsibilities don’t allow for that. When I walked in to my kitchen I found a mess everywhere I looked. My boys had spilled food on the floor and left it, tossed containers and wrappers in the general direction of the garbage can, and left dishes in the sink with food still in them. I got angry. Then self-pity took over and I found myself asking God how He really expected me to manage everything when the boys didn’t cooperate, my oldest child (who would normally take charge) was never home, and I was looking forward to just being sicker and sicker. I started to feel panicky thinking about how sick I could possibly become and I cried out to God and told Him I wasn’t strong enough to deal with the things I know are coming. You’re probably a step ahead of me here…sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake. God told me I only had to be strong for today. I only needed to get through this moment, and then the next. So far today, that is what I’ve had to do…string the day along moving moment by moment and not look any farther. I am finding the strength to make it through the day.
This is what I believe about strength: We only need enough strength to get through the trials of the moment. None of us possess now the strength we’re going to need for a situation 6 months from now because God gives daily what we need and it grows. I don’t have the strength I’ll need to survive 4 weeks from now, but I don’t have to worry about it. God is already there. He knows what it’s going to take to get me there. If I walk with Him and trust in Him, He will only give me what I can withstand today. Then He will graciously help me take that strength and multiply it in order to shoulder the burdens of tomorrow.
People often ask me how I’ve been so strong through everything I’ve gone through. I suppose it’s because they see me after-the-fact or they don’t realize at the time that I’m just functioning minute-to-minute. That’s all I have to do. Gods grace is sufficient. All He wants me to do is keep walking. And what is walking? The stringing along of one step, then another, one moment after the other…