Have you ever said that phrase to someone, maybe even said it to yourself, or had someone say it to you? My guess is that if you have ever traveled through a deep valley, your answer is “yes”. It’s one of the most well-intentioned, yet harmful statements that can be said to someone experiencing chronic pain, because it implies that we should be able to deal with whatever comes our way.
The Bible actually contradicts this notion that we are equipped to handle every difficult thing that enters into our lives; at least by ourselves, that is. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Phil. 1: 19-20; 2 Corinthians 3:4; and Isaiah 40:29.)
Summer vacation just started in our home and I’ve been mulling over ways to make this summer intentional for my daughter Promise. I want her to have fun, but I also know she is capable of growth and maturity and it’s my job as her mom to help cultivate that in her. She is eager to learn new skills and is excited to do chores (here’s hoping that lasts…). So I’ve made a list of things to teach her and tasks that I always want to get done, but never seem to have the time for.
Many of these things require skills, knowledge, and tools that she doesn’t have. I know that, but I’m still going to let her experience them, because I know she’s capable of developing into a person that can do them. In addition to that, I am capable of completing everything on our list, and I’ll be right there to teach and help her when she can’t do it on her own.
That’s the way God views the trials that He allows into our lives. He knows they seem insurmountable to us and that we do not have the capacity to handle them on our own. That is why He promises over and over in Scripture to equip us, never leave us, and carry for us the things in our lives that we can’t handle on our own. He knows our inadequacies, but He also sees our potential. Because of that, He allows us to experience more than we were made to handle.
I recently had a Neurology appointment with a doctor that specializes in tremors and autonomic dysfunction. About three years ago, I started to notice a tremor in my hands and legs. Promise will tell you I “vibrate”. I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t seek out a medical opinion about it until it started to interfere with my ability to do the detail work required for my artwork. Six months ago, I knew it had progressed to that point and so I scheduled the appointment.
After a thorough evaluation, my neurologist diagnosed them as Essential Tremors, or ET. It is impossible to know the cause of them, but he suspects it is because of the trauma my nervous system has endured from seven spine surgeries. There is a section of our brains where these tremor cells exist. Mine are over-reacting, which causes the tremors. Usually ETs develop in people around the age of 50, but mine started at 26. There is no cure for them and they will get worse as I get older. We will monitor them each year and eventually, when they go from “annoying” to “I can’t function,” there are a variety of treatment options to help manage them.
As I drove home processing this new diagnosis, I was experiencing many emotions, but predominately I was feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, and incapable of managing yet another diagnosis on top of my existing diagnosis of Spina Bifida, Neurogenic Bladder and Bowel, Chiari Malformation, and Neuropathy. I was questioning if I have the strength to remain hopeful, optimistic, and faithful. I have always said that I am thankful that my neurologic issues only affect my lower half because I still have my hands for my artwork, and now God is allowing a condition that will eventually take that away, too? It seems like too much to handle. And it is…on my own.
I have seen God carry and grow me through each hardship He’s allowed, and so I will continue to trust Him to provide the strength and endurance I need, morning by morning.
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lam. 3:19-23, NASB).
*First published in Just Between Us magazine, Fall, 2016 issue. Used with permission.
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Professor, Writer, and Speaker
Adriana is a freelance illustrator, professor, writer, and speaker who finds joy in helping others discover how God can bring “chronic hope” into their lives. She lives in Milwaukee, Wis., with her husband, Chris, and daughter, Promise.
Photo courtesy of Robyn Vining Photography.