According to New Health Advisor, the primary purpose of nutrition is to fuel the brain and subsequently the body’s cells, muscles and organs.
Starvation is the process whereby the body generates fuel by progressively more destructive means until every fuel store has been depleted. Normally fuel is derived from the conversion of glycogen to glucose during digestion. When glucose is no longer available from nutritional input the body takes it from fat stores. When the body’s glucose has been expended it creates fuel from ketones stored in the liver. Once the body’s ketones have been consumed the body shifts to robbing protein stores starting with the muscles and moving to organ tissues. At this point death occurs as a result of illness due to the lack of vitamins and minerals that feed the immune system or the systematic shutdown of bodily functions known as a vegetative state. Muscle loss and a lack of energy along with a bloated belly are the hallmarks of starvation. The entire process takes approximately 70 days.
This morning I realized that I’ve been on a hunger strike of sorts. It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part; well not entirely anyway. But I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to reconcile my circumstances, and my feelings about them, with what I know and believe to be true about the God who loves me. The thing I haven’t done is regularly sit down in His presence and let Him speak to me.
The truth is that I don’t really want to taste, chew and swallow what God wants to feed me. It’s a bitter, mushy, unpalatable meal that He has set before me, and so I’ve turned away from the nourishment I so desperately need. I’ve repeatedly refused to lift the fork to my mouth to taste, chew and swallow the bitter lessons of love, discipleship and suffering. And as a result, I’m wasting away much in the way a body dies of starvation.
In the absence of a steady diet of the Bread of Life (nutrition for the soul and spirit), I find myself weak and weary and more than likely my mind has become bloated with illogical thinking. (It’s hard to make a definitive statement on the state of my metal processing as it all makes sense to me)! Regardless, my spirit has been fueled by biblical nutrition from days gone by which leaves me vulnerable to the misinterpretation of scripture and misunderstandings about God—His character, will and purposes. It’s resulted in atrophied spiritual muscles and strength. Hence, I’m spiritually weak, weary, vulnerable and probably a bit delusional or at the very least misguided. Everything within me has shifted into self-protection mode.
I trust God with my eternal future. I trust Him to walk me through everything He will allow in my life; but I don’t trust Him with my heart. I don’t trust that He will protect me from further emotional pain—because life has taught me that He won’t. It doesn’t matter that He has a good purpose for my pain—the old the end justifies the means philosophy. It doesn’t really matter that He has provided comfort and consolation in my grief.
I think I have spiritual PTSD.
But I know—I know I’m spiritually anorexic.
Renee Swope said,
“We can find the plans God has for us when we surrender our plans to him.”
Surrender—that’s the last thing I want to do! No, fear has left me grasping to hold on to the two people I hold most dear. I’m terrified to lose them too. I wish fear were as easy to conquer as simply reciting Bible verses. “Fear not for I am with you.” “When I am afraid I will trust in you.” “Be ye strong and courageous. . . ” I know these verses, and more. They are written upon the tablet of my heart. But it’s not enough for this wounded heart . . .
“Because God loves my kids more than I do, I must trust His plan for them.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst
If you search the Internet for articles about trusting God with your children you will find the majority of the articles revolve around things that, while not insignificant, are also not matters of life and death. A quote like Lysa’s can sound painfully trite, if not impossible, to parents of sick or special needs children; especially when death is dogging their every step, regardless of the truth of her words.
Spiritual maturity is a process that requires ever increasing trust in God. And trust is hard to come by when it’s been betrayed, or feels as if it’s been betrayed. Self-protection is the knee-jerk reaction. Resistance, cynicism and even rebellion often follow.
But there are things that can help overcome those common worldly responses.
Romans 12:2 comes to mind:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
And in this, I have failed.
Living on lessons learned in the past has limited ability to renew my mind let alone transform my heart.
Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
And I haven’t sought the Lord for deliverance from my fears, or my circumstances either. . .
Why you might ask.
Why would you deny yourself the bread of life?
Why deny the power of God to change your circumstances and deliver you from your fears?
God’s Word is filled with triggers that incite my fight, flight or freeze reflex. Verses that torment—that feel untrue. Verses about protection—about healing. Verses that reflect promises for the here and now—or maybe for eternity alone—or could they apply to both? God’s Word hurts!
Praise and worship music lifts me up then slaps me back down as it cycles through praise and thanksgiving followed by trials and victorious overcoming. But I don’t feel like an overcomer and I certainly don’t feel victorious.
Prayer—prayer is just plain emotional. Faith and fear, anger and resentment, trust and bitterness assault me. Prayer is an exercise in trust. It’s begging God to do that which I cannot do myself; which generates expectation—hope—within my heart. Prayer requires reaching for His hand, grasping it when it comes within reach, and trying desperately to cling to it as things continue to get worse—when it feels as if my prayers have gone unheard or worse yet—that my feelings have been disregarded.
I’m resigned to Gracen’s prognosis. Every request for the removal of the thorn in her flesh has been repeatedly answered in the negative (lest I dare hope His answer is ‘wait‘ instead of ‘no‘). Begging for a change in circumstance in the face of continued negative responses just sets me up for further disappointment. I don’t need my glasses to read the writing on the wall. Encouraging me to continue in prayer and have hope for healing leaves me feeling guilty and ashamed as if I’ve failed in my Christian duty—as if I’ve failed my daughter. However, even the Apostle Paul quit asking for his thorn to be removed after three seasons of prayer.
And deliverance from my fears is beyond the scope of my faith . . . at this time.
My fears are all bound up in Gracen’s future, her prognosis, and deep spiritual wounds that remind me that I have trusted God for things in the past that He never promised. That’s not to say that He failed me, no, not at all, but I was still hurt by misunderstanding the promises He did make.
Sometimes I think it’s a cop-out to say I don’t currently have enough faith. Maybe you do to. But I ask you to return with me to Romans chapter 12. After Paul’s admonition to avoid being conformed to this world—after his encouragement to be transformed by the renewing of our minds—he went on to say this in verse three,
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.“
In the majority of card games, cards are dealt by the dealer either upon request or as the rules dictate. If faith and trust are living and growing spiritual fruit, I think it’s highly likely that at times God deals me a bit more faith when I request it, and at other times He deals me more because His plan dictates that I will need it. The well of faith is always sufficient; but faith still needs drawn out of the well!
I recognize that my unintended hunger strike needs to come to an end. I’ve devoured every last bit of spiritual knowledge stored up in my heart and mind. I need a regular diet of the meat of the word in order to renew my mind and transform my heart. I’m sure I’ll miss meals on occasion, but I’m making a conscious effort to be regularly fed.
Right now, my diet consists of a Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study by Lysa TerKeurst called Uninvited. It’s subtitled: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out And Lonely.
It’s a start and it’s hard.
It’s hard because the foundation of the lessons are the love of God, as it should be. Yet, Lysa TerKeurst, points out that, “What we see will violate what we know unless what we know dictates what we see.” Did you get that? What we see undermines truths we absolutely believe about a God, and will continue to do so, until our hearts and minds are transformed. Then the truths we know will alter our spiritual perspective, thereby overcoming sight by faith.
Every time I look upon my daughter, I see disease reigning victorious over her physical body. Fear of losing her, fear of unbearable grief have created a living, breathing terror within my heart—terror of God almighty—of His plans—terror over how much His plans will hurt. And that terror undermines what I know to be true. God loves me. He loves me and I have nothing to fear from Him. But what I know to be true is not dictating what I see when I look upon my daughter. I don’t see her one step closer to complete healing. I don’t see her drawing ever closer to no more pain. I don’t see her through the eyes of eternity. The hope of eternity is obscured by the dimmest of mirrors reflecting and distorting what will be with the reality of what is right now.
And right now I feel less than—less important, less valuable, less loved than the believers who surround me with joyfully intact and healthy families. Right now I feel left out—left out of the blessings everyone around me takes for granted. Watching their children grow up, embark on careers, marry, have babies, and watching those babies grow. Right now I feel lonely—lonely for missing family members, lonely for friendship, lonely for the Lord because it’s so very hard to draw close to someone you know will hurt you, or allow you to be hurt, again—maybe even soon. Lonely because grieving is very much a solitary activity.
So I am trying with this online Bible study. My self-imposed hunger strike is over! And I’m hoping to find a way to live loved. To live in the full assurance of the height, width, and depth of God’s love for me so that I can be renewed and transformed—so that the image in my mind of the mastery of disease over Gracen’s body will be concealed—will be completely replaced—with a clear image of Gracen the way Christ will see her when she steps into His presence. That’s a pretty tall order; but I know that God is able. It won’t happen overnight; or quickly for that matter. But given time, it’s a possibility.
It’s a possibility.