Sometimes it's downright awful.
I'm an honest person by nature. And though I don't often parade around with these raw emotions displayed across my face, I fully admit there are days I hide, days I stay in bed, days I cry in the shower, too weak even to stand, too discouraged even to reach out. There are days I wonder why I keep going, days I can't face the fact that this is what the rest. of. my. life will be like.
But such days are the minority. They're rare. Most of the time, you'll see me smiling, and that's no lie. It's not an act. I'm not pretending or forcing the pain aside. Most of the time, I really am joyful. My life is full, despite these health issues. I am a wife.
I am a mother.
I am a teacher.
I am a friend.
Daughter, sister, volunteer--my roles are many. People ask me often, "How do you do it?"
To answer, I have to tell a story.
Once there were three young men. They were faithful men living in exile in a foreign land. The king of this land enacted a law that everyone had to bow down and worship a statue of the king. These three young men remained faithful to their God and refused to worship the king of that land. The king liked these guys, and that didn't sit well with some powerful people in the kingdom. So the powerful people watched the young men and caught them in the act of disobedience to the king and turned them in. The king was bound to his word, so he had them brought in to face punishment.
What was the punishment?
Oh, just a furnace heated so hot it instantly vaporized the guard who opened it.
These men stared down the furnace and said words that ring through my head over and over again each day. "Our God can save us. But even if he doesn't, he's still God, and we'll still serve him."
God can save us. But even if he doesn't...
The men were bound up and thrown in. The king and his guards watched through the doors and saw four men walking around inside, among the flames.
Now you're looking up a few lines, checking something. Yep, three men. So who's the fourth? Hang on. I'll tell you in a minute.
So the king had the doors opened, and the three men walked out, no longer bound, not a hair on their heads singed, not even the smell of smoke on their clothes. The king was aghast and said, "No other god can save in this way!"
I'm staring down my own furnace of sorts. It's hot. It intimidates those around me. Those guys were on to something. God COULD save me. He could. It's within his power to heal me. But even if he doesn't.
But even if he doesn't.
The king said something else when those men came out of the fire. He said, "These men were willing to lay down their lives for their God. Praise be to God! No other god can save in this way!"
Remember that fourth guy? Most scholars believe it was Jesus. Jesus didn't start at the manger. He was with God from the very beginning. He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And he's with me. And so are so very many others. I'm not in the flames alone.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul (a guy who knew a thing or two about hard times) wrote, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
I'm willing to lay down my life for my God. My life is his. God can save me. But even if he doesn't, may the world look at the way I stare down the fiery furnace and say, "Praise be to God!"