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On Being Sustained

February 10, 2009


On Friday Duncan and Owen both pulled on my neck with the desire to be picked up and my back gave out. It had been feeling “tweaked” off and on for a few weeks. On Friday it had had enough. I felt my strength dwindle.

The pain quickly increased. When the boys took their nap I laid down to rest it. By that evening, however, despite the rest, I was not able to stand straight. For several hours that evening I rested it again, using a technique Josh knew to take all the pressure off of the muscles to try to get them to relax and stop seizing.

I don’t do well when limitations are placed on me. My go-getting spirit doesn’t like to be bridled. I immediately was annoyed. Josh was supposed to go away to a regional worship leader’s meeting the next day on Saturday. I was worried that he’d have to stay home. The next morning I felt better and encouraged Josh to go (he would have stayed home to take care of me).

I had to run an errand that morning, then I took the boys to the park, since the weather was nice. They had a fabulous time and I felt decent. But by nap time, I again was drained. I laid on the floor for two and half hours alternately dozing and reading. But again, by the evening I could barely function. I was growing weary, frustrated, and pain was shooting all through my back. Josh was on his way home with Chinese take out but the last hour seemed to stretch endlessly until he’d be home to take over. I’d gotten the boys dinner and was leaning over the sink and was reminded this was an opportunity to glorify God in my weakness, to “sing at midnight.” I knew my pain was minor in the realm of reality. It was mainly really annoying. I knew I had the hope this was just a temporary pain and it would eventually go away. I consciously–by God’s grace–decided that this was a small opportunity to grow.

And so I sang the first thing that popped into my head, a song I sing the boys.

Jesus loves me this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to him belong

They are weak but He is strong.

In singing there was strength. In singing there was joy. It changed my attitude in an instant, although it did not change the circumstance.

My small physical trial was soon to be over. Sunday my back felt much better, and with more rest, by Monday I was almost back to normal.

On Monday I was doing my devotions and they directly spoke to my situation over the weekend. In Paul David Tripp’s wonderful devotional Whiter Than Snow, he writes, “Human beings are simply not self-sustaining, and we were never designed to live as if we are. The doctrine of creation confronts us with the reality that we are neither physically or spiritually self-sustaining. We were created to be dependent. Dependency is not therefore a sign of weakness. Rather it is a universal indicator of our humanity.”

So true. I had a whole weekend experience to help that truth be a clear reality to me.

BUT, “God has promised to sustain us by his grace. He has promised us the sustaining grace of forgiveness, so that we can stand before him unafraid. He has promised the sustaining grace of enablement, giving us the strength to do what he calls us to do. He has promised us the sustaining grace of protection, delivering us from evil. He has promised us  the sustaining grace of wisdom, protection us from our own foolishness. He has promised us the sustaining grace of perseverance, keeping us until the final enemy has been defeated. He has promised the sustaining grace of eternity, giving us the hope of a day when the struggle will be over.”

Over the weekend I was blessed to be reminded that I need to be sustained. I’m thankful to God that I was so clearly conscious of it.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” -Ps.51:12

In what ways has God been strong in your weakness, either in the past or recently?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2009 7:29 am

    I am so sorry you were so much pain, Danielle. Anyone who ever has muscle spasms in their back is forever compassionate to anyone else who suffers the same.

    Thank you for your godly perspective and the character you demonstrated going through the trial. It is such evidence of God’s grace in your life.

  2. February 10, 2009 7:32 am

    I hope I’ve made it clear it WAS all God’s grace. Certainly not my own “moral” strength or whatever you’d want to call it. 🙂

  3. February 10, 2009 8:33 am

    His strength in my weakness has been the song of my life over the last two months. I have truly been amazed at His great provision for us (finances, insurance, rest…) since Isabel was born and Miguel lost his job. My faith has grown significantly in HIS ability to sustain me daily.

  4. zoanna permalink
    February 10, 2009 9:55 am

    I wish you had called . We would’ve asnwered your ER cry.
    Happy to hear how you chose to praise God and chose to see your intense pain as momentary affliction. That is so hard for me in the midst of what seems like ti’ll never end. You’re quite a model in your response to suffering.

  5. February 10, 2009 10:00 am

    This is a good post – I appreciate seeing a bit of where you’ve been. I know about that back thing too – I’ve had issues since last January, something about my nursing position and the lifting and the Lyme. I tend to be pretty frank about my health issues, simply because people asked so often when I was back collapsing all over the place. I learned to detach and describe, so while I would tell people “how I am doing” I wasn’t necessarily dwelling on it, even if it sounded like I was complaining because of the list of stuff I rattled off.

    I really appreciate your thoughts here, because I just found out that a woman I recently met is dealing with terminal cancer – cancer I thought was in remission or just breast cancer or something. I didn’t know it so deeply affected her life on a daily basis. I am embarrassed that I just rattled off my symptoms to her when she asked about my health without engaging with her or whatever. I don’t know how to interact with my chronic health issues in a healthy way (figure that one out!), and it feels awkward and trite sometimes to talk about Gods’ sustaining me.

    But the truth is, and I have seen it in this woman’s life, He is the one who sustains me. As much as I want to blame Him for the way my life is because of the health issues I have, I can’t, because I shouldn’t HAVE the life I have without His sustaining power. I mean, what guy would fall for a girl in a wheelchair who was in love with someone who wouldn’t love her? I get angriest when I look at the long term and feel as though the moment when the tired and the pain and the frustration is going to be my life forever, but He sustains today, and the grace will be there tomorrow too.

    Wow. I have written a post in your comment box. LOL – I’m in blogging withdrawal already!

    Thanks for adding some thoughts to my recent ponderings!

  6. February 10, 2009 3:49 pm

    Kelly, I can’t imagine going through all the physical trials you’ve gone through. I’m sure someone like you reading this post must roll your eyes (not literally, because you’re so nice). You know what I mean. 🙂

  7. Anne permalink
    February 10, 2009 5:11 pm

    amen. Isn’t it awesome that we have a savior who is and remains the same? ROCKS.
    Thanks for your thoughts, it is a great reminder to me who can get so bogged down in life, just the day to day strains of stress and whatever else that I lose focus and am not relying on him.
    I’m so thankful and blessed by the simple song you were reminded of as you struggled that day. Thank you too for sharing.

  8. mom permalink
    February 12, 2009 12:40 am

    Wish you’d have called, let me know. Would have loved to have helped; and enjoyed some time with you and the boys.

  9. February 12, 2009 7:57 am

    I knew you were working all day mom, and at the time it didn’t seem bad enough to have you leave work for it. Like I said, it felt the worse about the time they took their nap, which worked out great for me to get rest then.

  10. Bethany permalink
    February 13, 2009 6:05 pm

    Oh thanks for this Danielle. I needed to read it right now. I am really going through a difficult time.

    PS I understand the whole back thing. I herniated a disc while pregnant with Jude and then completely threw my back out when he was three months old. I couldn’t move and had just moved to California and had to have a stranger help me during the day with the boys because I couldn’t lift them (2 year old and a newborn). Seems like backs need rest and gentle care to heal. Praying for you that it would be strengthened. I know walking and keeping my abs in shape helps my back now. HUGS


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