Have you ever been told by someone that storms in your life will make you stronger? Or that God won’t give you something that you can’t handle? I’m talking here about storms that will bring out questions about your existence. You know the kind that makes you ask God: Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Was I not a good son or daughter to you? Then you feel confronted by the ever silence that follows these questions.
In 2016 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. It’s an Autoimmune Disease and according to the handbook, Living with IBD, Crohn’s is ‘where the body’s own immune system turns on itself by producing inflammation.’ The handbook that they gave me, at the Gastro-clinic, explained that Crohn’s is the inflammation of the bowel. Where the ‘wall of one or more of the gastrointestinal tract becomes thickened, inflamed and swollen.’ I was prescribed Azathioprine 100mg and Prednisone 40mg to help with the inflammation that was in the terminal ileum of the small bowel, and this was when my nightmare started. I prayed to God with no avail. How could He let this happen to me? I took the medication and evaluated everything that I ate. But the pains in my stomach and joints increased each day. I remember sitting across from my GP, begging her to make the pain go away. I was now on Paracetamol and Tramadol three times a day. People who live with this disease can tell you this kind of pain isn’t the only thing that you have to deal with. The diarrhoea, vomiting, lack of appetite and dizziness had a great effect on my work productivity. The medication was obviously not working, and in October of 2016, the doctors advised me that it might be necessary for me to have an Ileocaecal Resection (https://www.ibdrelief.com>learn>surgery). They wanted to remove the inflamed part of my small bowel and part of the colon, that was obstructing my bowels. By removing these parts of the intestines would cause me to be IBD free for at least ten years. There was also the possibility of having to live with a stoma bag. I was horrified. These things happen to other people, not to me. Haven’t I suffered enough?
I prayed like never before. I was visiting the healing rooms at my church (Elim Christian Church), where they prayed over me and gave me inspiring messages from the bible. The first was Psalm 103: 2-3, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases’. And Psalm 139: 14, ‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made’. But they also condemned me, saying that there could be a generational curse on me and that could explain the chronic illness that transferred from my parents to my sisters and me. It confused me that they could make a claim like this, for did Jesus not die on the cross for my sins? I truly believed that through Jesus, my sins had been washed away. Through his stripes, I am healed. Something within me started to change. Somehow, I knew this was a path that I had to walk. I went for another prayer session just before my operation. But I felt at peace knowing this was the will of God.
I woke up after the procedure, confused fighting of the hands grabbing the bedsheets of me. It was the nursing staff wanting to look at my wounds, making sure that I was not bleeding. In my confusion, I fought them. I could see my partner staring in through the opening in the curtains. I did not want him to be the first one seeing the stoma bag. I looked down on my yellow coloured stomach with scattered dressings indicating my wounds of war. There was no colostomy bag. A sense of relief washed over me, and I slept on. I woke up with the terrible pains of before the procedure. I’ve done the only thing that I knew to do when facing a difficult problem… I prayed. I walked the halls of the hospital, praying with each step that I took—reciting the verses to God, reminding Him that He made me without any faults. I was admitted on a Friday and discharge that Monday. God Is Good!
Unfortunately, I was back in the hospital two months later. The unexplainable pains over my abdomen continued. I was still taking pain medication three times a day. It wasn’t until one day at work when I could not take the pain medication, and I went into withdrawal from not using it that morning. I felt shaky and horrible, and I had to admit that something was terribly wrong. I stopped all my medication. Because of all the pain, I was in, my jaw dislocated. The snapping of the jaw caused hearing loss in my right ear. I now have a constant clicking jaw, made worse when I cannot hear and feeling stressed. Why Lord? My faith at times felt fragile, but I kept on calling on God. I knew that He wouldn’t let me go through this if there wasn’t purpose behind it.
I attended the Alpha Course at my church at the end of 2017. It was the second time I attended this course. I got baptised on the 30th of November 2017 at Buckland’s Beach Auckland. Although I could feel myself growing spiritually, the question, “why” kept popping up.
It wasn’t until I heard the sermon by Steve Green on the 10/06/2018 about ‘There’s purpose in the thorn’ that I understood the why. His sermon asked the question ‘Why did God allow the situation in my life to stay?’ In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ In my disease, God revealed my weaknesses so that He could be my strength. And now also bringing me in alignment with him so that I can do what He called me to do.
I decided to take a long hard look at myself. What I found wasn’t a pretty sight. I have never been a beauty queen, but this illness has actually brought out the monster within. It was something no one would like to admit to him- or herself. The pain has shattered me and showed me a part of myself that was on its way, destroying myself, my family and even my relationship with my friends and colleagues. There was a time that I was in so much pain that I would be leaning over the trolley where I worked, praying to God not just to take the pain away, but me too. I would think dark thoughts of making an end to it all. I just never acted on it. I would snap at my children and withdraw from my workmates. I was scared that they would realize my pain and report it. I lost my work none the less. It was a blessing in disguise because now I could re-evaluate my life. My younger son was constantly angry and started bullying other children at his school. Worst of all, he started talking to his teachers that he wanted to kill himself. Why? I would ask. I praised my parenting skills at that time. Not wanting to admit to myself that the limited time I spent with my two boys was not quality time spend at all.
One afternoon rushing from one activity to another, I had to ask myself how did I cope doing all this, work, housework and studying? I first firmly believed that the devil was sitting behind my illness and the way my household turned into chaos. It wasn’t the devil. It was me. I was given this body that was fearfully and wonderfully made. I was supposed to treat it as a temple. I always ate what I wanted, till I got sick, of course. I worked up to sixty hours per month, overtime when I was younger. What did I expect? When you drive your car hard each day without servicing and giving it a proper rest every once and a while, it would start to give in on you.
‘Are you cured?’ -You would ask me today. I have to be honest with you and admit, no. No, I am not. But my real walk with Him only started. I am on no medication, though. My pains are only present when I am feeling stressed. So too are the other symptoms revolving around the Crohn’s disease, making me wonder if doctors have it wrong. This disease should be looked at differently. Not just treating the symptoms, but also focus on the possible cause: Stress. Doctors give medication sometimes to help us to continue the lifestyle that you are used to. The continued use of these medications can be very harsh on one’s body and can take a different toll on you and your family. But, what if that lifestyle is the cause of the problem? Now only the irritating clicking jaw and hearing loss the only evidence of what happened, remain. I still have much to learn, but I feel more at peace. I am spending more time with my wonderful boys. Being part of their lives and not just looking in on it. Dinner time are now spend doing bible study and prayer around the table. My younger son is not so angry any more. His attitude at school has so much improved. I’ve learned that with much rest and focussing on His word, healing not just for myself, but also for my family can happen. Healing isn’t always the miraculous thing that you hear about. It is a process, a walk, that you need to walk with Him. He will show you how healing happens, from the inside out. What a walk it has been so far.