Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why Me? Why NOW?

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” – Romans 8:28 AMP

 “Why me?” Tell me that wasn’t your first thought when it finally sunk in that yes, in fact, you DO have a painful, chronic, incurable illness. It may not have stayed there long, but if you’re like most of us, you’ve probably said something along those lines, or at the very least, “Why now?” For me, the timing of my RA diagnosis couldn’t have been worse. After spending six years as a single parent, I had finally met the man of my dreams and remarried in May 2014. The future looked bright as we anticipated many years of paddling our kayaks and hiking across the country together. We knew that my move into his house would be stressful, as would my daughter’s adjustment to living with a new stepdad, but that was just par for the course. What we weren’t expecting was all that happened within just a few months of our wedding day.

My father had fought hard to keep his Stage IV lung cancer at bay for two years, and when my then-boyfriend Ben told him he wanted to marry me, his reply was, “Well, you better do it soon, because I’m not going to be around forever!” That was around Valentine’s Day. The weekend before Mother’s Day, Daddy was able to take off his oxygen tube for just a few minutes to walk me down the aisle to my waiting groom, and even to dance half a song with me. As I felt my father’s arms around me while we slowly swayed to the sound of Martina McBride singing “Over the Rainbow,” I couldn’t imagine being any happier. “If tiny little bluebirds fly across the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?” The words of the song touched my heart. Finally, everything in my life was falling into place.

About 8 weeks after the wedding, I got the news that Daddy’s cancer was back in full force and had spread considerably. Within a few days of that news, he entered the hospital for a complication. He never came home. I was at the hospital every day for almost three weeks after that, with the exception of when my daughter and I were baking a cake for her 10th birthday party. Watching him dying, unable to comfort him in his pain, was truly the most excruciating experience of my life to-date. After he was gone, time seemed altered. Some days, it felt like his passing was an eternity ago, and on others, it seemed it was just yesterday. Waves of grief drifted in and out of my heart, as the ocean tides move in and away from the shore.

The day that would have been Daddy’s 79th birthday, I spent the morning with my mother, comforted by her presence and the memories we shared of my father. She had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, and I had mine. What began as a difficult day ended on an equally challenging note: the confirmed diagnosis of my rheumatoid arthritis. In the morning of September 16, I cried for my father. That afternoon, I cried for myself. “Why me?” I asked God, with a very small voice. “Why NOW?” I cried, even louder. Why, at the beginning of my wonderful marriage? And why, just a few weeks after the painful death of my beloved father?

Sometimes, it’s really hard to see God’s fingerprints in the details of our lives, especially when bad things come along. We ask that question of “Why me?” knowing full-well that the answer is really “Why NOT me?” After all, people get bad news all the time. Who am I to have a pity party about getting RA at age 50 when people a lot younger than me – even children – are being diagnosed with cancer, even as we speak? And is there ANY good time for difficult circumstances? When my mother was diagnosed with cancer at age 41, she proclaimed, “I don’t have time for funerals!” I was just about to graduate from high school and my father had been transferred with his job to a new city. It was NOT a good time. But she persevered – determined not to let it beat her – and not only had a quite miraculous recovery, but also ended up becoming both an entrepreneur and competitive ballroom dancer – with just one lung!

I do not yet know what God’s exact purpose is in my diagnosis or its timing, just as you may be struggling with yours. What I do know is that He has one. I am happy that God has provided examples in His Word of people just like you and me, whose lives were interrupted by something seemingly bad that somehow was the impetus for something better.

Perhaps you have heard of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,” the musical based on the biblical story of Joseph, the youngest brother in an Israelite family whose jealous brothers sold him into slavery in a foreign land, then told their father he had been killed! Now, THAT is what I call an unwelcome life interruption. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he was doing quite well in Egypt, when BAM! He got thrown in jail on a false accusation of attempted rape. Talk about a raw deal.  I am sure there were days when Joseph had to be asking “Why me?” and “Why now?” when these seeming disasters happened in the midst of an otherwise happy life. What he didn’t see for a long time was that God’s plan was in the works. When the time was right, God gave Joseph the ability to interpret the king’s dreams. As a result, he was released from prison and saved both Egypt and his own family from starvation during a great famine. Those difficult circumstances led right to where God wanted and needed Joseph, and his faith and obedience resulted in him not only being joyfully reunited with his family, but also in being a blessing to others - beyond anything he could have dreamed of.

Today, whether you are faced with a recent diagnosis or struggling with an illness you’ve had for a long time, do not despair. Jesus was very clear in His instructions for us to live one day at a time, when He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow … today has enough troubles of its own. Let tomorrow take care of itself.” All you are asked to do is to do what you can with TODAY. Do not lose hope. One day, you will look back and it will all become clear, just as it did with Joseph.

Try filling in the blanks in the following phrase with your own name and circumstance: Who knows? It’s possible that you ____________________ for a time just like this.” Seek God’s purpose in your circumstance and ask not “Why me?” but rather “Why not me?” Look for His fingerprints in your life, in the ways He is working all things together for the good of you or others. And do not question “Why now?” but rather wait to discover God’s PERFECT timing with the question of “Why not now?” How can God use you right where you are? Pray about it, and share what God reveals!

Why Me? Why NOW? originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins.  Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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