Want to know how I am doing? “I’m doing well,” with a smile on my face, is my usual response. Even with all things considered, most of the time it’s true. But lets be real, as hard as I try to convince the inquiring party of my bliss, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies.
It’s often easy to hide behind wanting to appear tough and full of faith, but the truth is, my body is nearly always uncomfortable these days.
I feel as if there’s a knife penetrating into my left shoulder for most of the day.
I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve been able to get away from home this summer thanks to the intensity of my body spasms caused by the slightest bump in the road.
Not only can I not feel my girlfriend’s hand when I hold it, now it’s often “don’t touch me” or it will shoot my body into an intense series of spasmic shaking. (Talk about romantic.)
One of my best friends is getting married soon and I’m frustrated that a 500 mile road trip stands in the way of my presence as the best man by his side on his big day.
Regardless of what I believe, it gets old having to sit through doctor appointments hearing the prognosis of never moving anything below my shoulders again for the rest of my life.
I’m exhausted from waking up in the middle of the night and staring at the ceiling for hours unable to fall back asleep.
It’s hard not to feel like a burden on the people around me, being dependent on them to take care of my every need throughout the day.
I struggle fighting against comparing myself to my peers moving full steam ahead in the post-college world without me.
The icing on the cake is that I’m 25 and live down the hall from my parents. Not quite what I had envisioned growing up.
I know storms can be relative. I’m aware enough to be thankful about what I do have. A loving family. Great friends. A roof over my head. A full stomach at the end of each day. Regardless of how worn down my body may seem, I’ve remained healthy. While that is great to take inventory of, it doesn’t necessarily mask everything. When I think of promises God has made, sometimes they seem so distant and almost too good to be true…especially as time goes on and my body continues to feel worse.
Years ago a ship sailed into a storm in the Mediterranean Sea. The winds were of hurricane force. The crashing waves were daunting. The crew gave up any hope of being saved as their food supply ran dry. A man named Paul stood up, claiming an angel from God had spoken to him ensuring that the group would weather the storm and every life would be spared. He boldly proclaimed, “Keep up your courage men, I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me!” I can imagine his fellow shipmates rolling their eyes whispering among themselves, “Is this guy nuts? Doesn’t he see what’s happening?” Sure enough, soon after speaking this, things did not get better. They got worse.
Often I feel in the midst of that storm. I want to give up. I wonder if God has forgotten me. Was believing he had a promising future for me just a pipe dream? It gets harder and harder as my physical body continues to decline and just causes more discomfort and frustration. It’s easy for the prevailing thought to be, “It doesn’t look like there’s much hope left.”
This was likely what the men on the boat were thinking. They were about to come upon some rocks and the crew was not keen on listening to this man who was waiting on God’s provision. The ship struck a sandbar and began to split into pieces. Panic arose. This man who believed God would save them urged them again not to give up. Soon thereafter daylight came and in the distance they saw a bay with a sandy beach. What seemed impossible was now a reality. Eventually, just as Paul had said, everyone on the boat safely reached the island of Malta just south of Italy. (For the full account of this true story, click here.)
While the situation only seemed to look worse for Paul, he kept his faith while those around him wanted to give up and accept their fate. Am I going to look at the storm around me? Or am I going to focus on the God who is with me in the midst of it? Even in a storm there is still a silver lining. Hope still remains. I still believe I have a great future ahead with a purpose that I could not have imagined just a few years ago.
I want to keep my eyes fixated on God himself rather than my circumstances, believing the daylight and the shore are just around the corner. It may not see always seem like it, but I know he is there. I want my cry to be in tune with the song below, understanding that, “As the thunder roars, I barely hear you whisper through the rain, ‘I’m with you.’”
Contact info: Ryan.S.Atkins@Gmail.com
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