The Butterfly Effect: pain with a purpose

butterflyFighting for my health day in and day out gets old after awhile. I’m tired of always having to be on my game. Wear a mask in the doctor’s office, avoid friends and family who are sick, carefully watch food preparation, keep the house disinfected, be vigilant about washing and using hand sanitizer until your hands feel raw. This way of living can create a sense of exhaustion, frustration, and loneliness. I hate that my energy gets depleted so quickly and that my ability to fight infection is low enough that it changes the way I live. Though we don’t voice it often, we wonder how long this will last and if it will ever get better. With all the current risks, it’s hard to silence the nagging fear in the back of our minds that we might not get to grow old together. After awhile, living with disease begins to take its toll.

But I am learning a new perspective on what is good. For over a year I have prayed, begged, and pleaded with God to restore me to full health. My husband has also prayed every single day that God would heal me of my autoimmune disease. But I am still sick. And God has not answered those prayers, at least in the way we expected. We are still hoping and praying that one day I will come to full healing, that we will still get the chance to have a family, and that we can look back on this time as a season of growth. We are still praying. But our prayers are changing.

This morning I came across the verse in Matthew 7 that talks about how God freely gives good gifts to His children. My first thought was, How can this be, Lord? I’ve been asking for all good things and if You freely gives to those who ask, then why have I not received?

And then an idea struck me. Could I be asking the wrong question? Instead of “Will You heal me?” maybe the right question was, “Why aren’t You healing me?” And that brought about a mind-boggling thought. God gives what is good. If God, who gives what is good, has not given me the health I have been asking for…then it must not be good for me.

Of course health is a good thing, but is it possible that right now at this time in my life it might not be good for me? If He isn’t taking away my pain, then there must be a reason this pain is necessary in my life.

Of course it would be great if God just changed my circumstances and took away all of my heartache. But He doesn’t. And if He doesn’t change my circumstances, than these circumstances must be necessary to bring about a good in my life. Changing my circumstances won’t necessarily bring about change in my heart. It will only delay the growth needed in my life because let’s face it, I pay way more attention to the condition of my heart and soul when I am suffering rather than when things are going well.

During our first year of marriage we went hiking in a canyon filled with trees and natural waterfalls. Surrounded by beauty, we saw a small butterfly perched on the rocky ledge. Seeing butterflies always reminds me that suffering is the fertile soil for change and growth. The caterpillar goes through much toil to emerge from his cocoon as a butterfly. He must figure out a way to squeeze his large body through a tiny opening. If we tried to assist him, what would seem to us as compassionate assistance would in reality be detrimental to his well-being. Without this struggle, his wings will not become strong enough to fly. The butterfly must go through pain and struggle for renewed life. Pain is necessary for change, transformation, and new growth.

So while I continue to hope for restored health, I am now praying for change. Until God changes my circumstances, I pray that He will use these circumstances to change my heart.

If God is not answering my prayers for what we want, then He must be giving us what we need. And if I could see the whole picture, I would agree with Him.

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