I am going to tell you a very personal story, but that’s okay, because it is all about me. That sounds a little conceited, but you will understand that it is anything but that in just a few minutes.
Our scripture this morning is about a very strange incident when our people were wandering in the wilderness and being disobedient. They suffered and God graciously provided deliverance.
As long as I can remember I have had headaches. My mother used to get frustrated with me because I complained about them so much. Almost incapacitating. From a parent’s point of view, that can be a suspicious form of avoidance—not wanting to go to school or some other thing to get out of. That wasn’t the case for me, though—I just felt really crummy.
Several years ago, with a new baby and 2 school age daughters, I got another headache. Only this one felt like someone had lowered an elephant on my head and was crushing it. I tried everything I could think of, and nothing relieved it. Steve eventually gave me something with codeine in it and I fell asleep and when I woke up it was better. But it was really scary—I didn’t know what caused it and I didn’t want it to happen again, but it did.
Originally preached Sunday, March 11, 2018
Long story short—having had several “incidents” when I was younger involving smashing injuries to my face, we decided that it was probably my TMJ, and an oral surgeon removed my wisdom teeth and prescribed an oral splint that I wore for several years. I also had surgery on my left TMJ. Still had headaches. But they were getting worse.
Here I was in my mid 30’s now, with 5 busy children, trying to handle everything in my life, which included college, and Steve finally diagnosed my headaches as migraines. Thankfully, for the first time in history, there was a new medicine that actually alleviates them. I won’t bore you with all that, but I can name all of the migraine medicines and what kind of side effects they have, because I took them at least 5 days out of 10 for over 25 years. Whenever I worried about the long-term side effects, I concluded that a possibly shorter life was at least some kind of life.
A few years ago, in late July, all of a sudden the bottom dropped out of my life. I was so tired I couldn’t function normally, and I knew that something was seriously wrong with me and I went to see my doctor and he took all the right tests and listened to my symptoms and told me there was nothing physically wrong with me, and to go straight to a counselor and he put me on an antidepressant. My fatigue had come upon me so suddenly I was shocked—I told him that I wasn’t sad. There was nothing going on in my life that could possibly cause depression. I knew that there was something PHYSICALLY wrong with me and that he must be wrong, but as depressing as his diagnosis was, I did what he told me to.
It was very humiliating to me to be on this type of medicine. The ironic thing was, Steve and I had literally been through purgatory and back with family situations, job situations, life situations, and we had sailed through. And now, with NOTHING apparently wrong in our lives, this? It just seemed crazy to me. And yet, I was authentically, honestly, down-to-earth miserable and incapable of even the most basic activities at that point.
And so, over the next few months, I got back some energy, started feeling more like myself again and something completely unexpected happened. I noticed that I had not had a headache for a while. In fact I could not remember the last headache. Headaches had been my normal for so long. Until this humiliating, unmentionable situation I now found myself in.
Wow. The disease of depression that had attacked me became the source of my new healing.
I think you can imagine how many times over the years I had prayed for healing. I never lost faith, but I was discouraged. My healing—and I DO call it that—came from a very unexpected place, and one to where I would never have willingly gone. Now I had hit bottom and had no other options.
Isn’t that the way it so often is for us in our spiritual lives? We try everything we can think of (and THAT is the problem!) and when none of that seems to help, we rely on despair (irony intended). I can testify to you that God always has a better solution than we do, even when it seems illogical to us. God continually tells us to rely on HIM, not our own understanding, and yet we have such a hard time with that! This morning we are going to visit a very strange scripture (from our human understanding) that reminds us that God is in charge.