I think I first heard this song from Laura Story on my Pandora station about a year and a half ago. I clearly remember being deeply touched by its beautiful melody and stirring lyrics. I was impressed that someone would have the courage to write a song so counter-cultural to the anti-suffering, instant-gratification, health-and-wealth version of modern Christianity which has permeated our society.
It's one thing, though, to like a song.
It's another thing to actually live it.
A couple of days ago, Blessings again gently drifted across my Pandora station. I hadn't heard it in months, and this time, the beautiful melody and stirring lyrics stopped me dead in my tracks. As I stood at the kitchen sink listening, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes...
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
That prayer for healing and for His mighty hand to ease my suffering? Um, yeah. I know about that one. I have been praying it for over three months.
You see, about five weeks after Isaac was born, and likely due to childbirth, a case of internal hemorrhoids manifested themselves. (I know; it's a rather private topic to discuss on a blog, but in an effort to be real about life's tribulations, I'm just going to go ahead and say it like it is.) At the time, I didn't know hemorrhoids were what I was dealing with...in fact, I didn't even know such things existed! I thought my problem was something else.
I did some research and started trying to treat my condition with home remedies to ease the constipation, discomfort, and pain I was suddenly experiencing. I tried one thing after another: prune juice, more fruits and veggies and whole grains, increasing my water intake to one gallon a day, sitz baths, stool softeners, essential oils, etc. But instead of getting better, my problem just got worse.
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
I had never experienced pain like this before. Excruciating and agonizing don't even begin to describe the feeling. It totally trumped childbirth ten times over. Things got so bad that every time I had a you-know-what, it was like knives sliced through me, after which, a fire burned inside of very sensitive tissue for the rest of the day. And then, the same thing would happen all over again the next day. Needless to say, I dreaded going to the bathroom. In fact, some mornings, I just plain dreaded getting out of bed and facing the torture that the day was bound to bring.
I consciously began eating the right amount of fibrous foods (and continuing with all the other home remedies) and was so encouraged to see immediate improvement! For a few days, that is.
It was the doctor's exam which revealed the problem to be hemorrhoids. While I had heard this word before and encountered it in my research, I didn't really know what hemorrhoids were or anything about them. (Enter more research!)
Armed with a topical prescription cream to start using and the encouragement that the fiber had been making a big difference, I went home with hope in my heart that this problem would begin to heal and life could return to normal.
Instead, my pain only seemed to get worse...if that was even possible. Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick..." That definitely described my emotional condition. As my hopes for recovery were once again shattered, the discouragement I had been fighting for many weeks seemed to settle over me like an ominous black cloud. I cried many tears because of the pain and the overwhelming feeling of despair.
We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love...
Oh, how the thoughts did tumble and the doubts rage!
Would I ever get better? Would I have to deal with hemorrhoids every time I had a baby? How could I keep enduring this terrible pain day after day? What kind of mother could I be if all I could do each day was feed and diaper my child in between taking hot baths? God, I don't know what to do! Please help me! I'm mad at You because You could heal me, yet you aren't healing me. Yet, I am ashamed to admit I'm mad because You are God and You know best and You are worthy to be trusted! I know suffering is a part of life, but this is not the kind of suffering I had in mind! This is not the kind of suffering I read about in Your Word. At least suffering for one's faith is a noble and worthy cause. But suffering with hemorrhoids??? I'm guessing this is a test, but I don't know to what purpose and I'm confused and hurting...
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe
As these thoughts tumbled and the days passed and the pain became more raw, another doctor's exam showed that my hemorrhoids had multiplied and some were now ulcerated. At least there was an explanation for the increase in pain. I was given a second prescription cream to start using...
I'm not exactly sure when the black cloud started lifting, but I think it was around the time of my birthday. The phone calls with dear friends and family, the comments you all wrote in, the conversations with many who knew exactly what I was going through and had advice to share...it was all like a breath of fresh air! Encouragement can mean so, so much!
In addition to the hot baths, high fiber diet, and prescription creams I was using, I began adding the various other natural remedies people suggested to my daily routine. These in turn led to more research and more ideas until I soon had a long list on the fridge of all the different "treatments" beneficial to healing hemorrhoids. At that point, I was willing to try just about anything that would lead to recovery.
The spark of hope in my heart that sputtered out so many times over the months is burning once again. Recently, I've had several days of very minimal pain and have been able to function normally, attending to my husband, household, and baby! This relief from the pain has also brought tremendous encouragement to my soul.
Additionally, I have been reminded this past week that my issue, while incredibly difficult to muddle through, is not nearly so hard compared to what some people deal with. A visit to a 93-year-old church member who is on oxygen for life because of a mistake doctors made and who probably won't ever heal from recently broken vertebrae due to her age was a rebuke to me as I observed her constant cheerfulness. A Facebook update on a new mother who is battling stage 4 cancer was an admonition to be grateful that I am not facing a fatal disease or agressive chemo therapy treatments just as a new baby entered my life.
Yes, even though my life has been fraught with physical difficulty that has taken its toll on my emotions, there really is so much to be thankful for.
Even though I've had some good days of late, I'm not by any means fully recovered. In fact, today was another hard day of burning, stinging pain that lasted for hours on end in which I could do little more than feed and diaper my child in between various types of baths and treatments. But thanks to the encouragement I've been receiving, the healing I think I am starting to experience, and the disappearance of the dark cloud overhead, the day was a little easier to endure.
This issue with painful hemorrhoids and a big question mark over how long it will be before I am totally better certainly makes these words from the song Blessings ring true in my heart!
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
As my husband constantly reminds me in sermons and personal conversations, the only true hope we have in life is the coming resurrection. This world is cursed and sin wreaks havoc every day. There is great suffering, trial, and tribulation. But those whose faith rests in the Lord Jesus and his substitutionary death on the cross in their place will one day leave this all behind and live in perfect bodies free of pain in the presence of God forever. Home is coming!
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?