I am originally from Calgary and have the most wonderful, incredible family. My parents always strove to model Christ-like behavior and to teach me about the Bible. They taught me about Jesus and how God became a man, lived a perfect life and suffered the worst possible death. On the cross Jesus took my place, the place of a forsaken sinner, so far from God, unable to bridge the gap no matter how hard I strove. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice and God poured out his wrath on him. He was resurrected on the third day and like a Passover lamb, his loving sacrifice covered me from God’s justice. It is through God’s great grace and mercy that he offers me redemption once and for all. They told me that Jesus would wipe my sins away, and give me a new nature. I would no longer be a servant to sin but a child of God because Jesus first loved me. At a young age, I accepted Jesus and became a Christian.
My life changed when I was thirteen years old. I got sick on New Years Eve 2003 and my health never recovered. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia a year later. I was in constant pain, always tired, unable to concentrate, totally isolated. I was trapped in a haze, not really knowing what was happening or why. Life just quickly and quietly crept by and all of a sudden I was about to graduate high school. In and out of the classroom, somehow I made it through despite missing at least half of my classes each year. Throughout that time I constantly cried out to God, only in him could I find hope. I would write notes to myself to remind me in moments of despair that God loved me and that was all that mattered. The increasing knowledge of his love for me caused my own heart to grow an increasing love for him and a yearning to know him more.
After being sick for four years – I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. By God’s grace alone I was accepted into a prestigious journalism program and I started school in Ottawa in the fall of 2009. It was in this extremely liberal and anti-Christian environment that my relationship with Christ blossomed all the more. Sitting in lectures where professors declared, “technology is the resurrected Christ” and “history is over” I needed to know what I believed and why. When I wasn’t reading Plato or Hobbes or Nietzsche I was listening to Ravi Zacharias podcasts and reading Lewis and Chesterton. Apologetics and learning more about God and why he made the world the way it is became my passion.
Each year I stayed in Ottawa, my health deteriorated all the more rapidly. I would scratch and claw and fight my way through the school year with all the strength I had, or didn’t, left, then after eight very long months, I would come home to Calgary and completely collapse – no vestige of strength remaining. I was in physical pain all the time, nauseous from morning to night, struggling to get enough sleep; with so little energy even the simplest task seemed insurmountable. Looking back now, I know that it was only through God’s provision and care that I was able to graduate. Yet nothing seemed to hamper my determination to further my education. I wanted to be able to defend the Christian worldview to the best of my ability and I thought a Master’s in political science would open some doors. My reckless approach to my long-term health however was unsustainable and I soon realized my health wasn’t going to hold up long enough to allow me to finish this second degree.
It was almost a year ago to the day when I realized I needed to surrender the plans I had for my life to the good plan God has in store for me. I withdrew from school, packed up my things and left the city that had become my home to return to Calgary. I am on medical leave indefinitely. I have been greatly humbled by my latest life change. I have had to set aside goals that were good but not good for me. My life didn’t look like my friend’s. It didn’t look like anything I recognized. But I recognized God’s faithfulness in this new beginning. Even though my path ahead isn’t clear to me now, it is clearly in God’s hands and his will is being done.
I cling to the same hope David does in my favorite psalm. He says in Psalm 143 (8): “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” When I face trials I remember James’ (1:2) call to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I ask, like Paul, (Romans 15:13) “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I rejoice in my salvation, remembering Jesus’ words (John 8:34-35) “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
I have been sick for almost half my life now. I don’t remember what its like to not be in pain or to not wake up feeling exhausted. But I know that my suffering does not define me. I know the pain I go through now will end. I know that I do not walk alone because Jesus has gone before me. I do not fear the future because I know who holds the key. I do not envy the healthy because I know where my true health comes. I know that it is in my weakness God is strong, his grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect. I know that our God is a God of endurance and encouragement. I know that I am not surprised by fiery trials but rejoice that I am able to participate in the sufferings of Christ and will be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. I know to count it all joy.
I know that in Jesus, God has given me an example to follow in order to suffer well. I know there is a purpose and a plan and do not ask why. I know that I have put my hope in the only one who can save. I know that I am forgiven and redeemed. I know that nothing I can do will ever earn God’s favor but I pray that my trials would be to his glory and that my actions point to my savior. And I hope through my life others will come to know Christ as the suffering servant who has come to take away the sins of the world. He is unfailing, never changing, all knowing and all loving. He is the God of mercy and grace who choose me at a young age and has brought me up as one of his own. My identity alone is as God’s daughter. I cling alone to the rock of my salvation, our firm and eternal foundation.
I want to be baptized today to proclaim to the world that my Lord is Jesus Christ and he is the only one who can save. Every day I will take up my cross and follow him. I just wanted to finish by reading my favorite poem by Annie Johnson Flint:
He Giveth More Grace
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.