Let me tell you something about my headaches.
I get these things called cluster headaches every now and again, and they’re called cluster headaches because they only come once a year and they often come in a large (and largely painful) quantity.
I wake up with them usually. And it takes me a minute to realize what they are, but once I do, I sprint out of bed for pills and a bottle of cold water. And then I have to run to the bathroom before the pills I just took and the water I just drank are puked up all over the floor. When I am able enough to get up from the bathroom floor, I put a Bed Buddy cold pack on my forehead and drag myself to bed. I usually writhe for a little bit, stop to cry and pray and scream and vomit and whimper. Light kills me. Standing kills me. Even sitting up kills me.
All I can do is just wait it out. Fortunately, cluster headaches don’t last longer than two hours. Sometimes they’re only fifteen minutes long. But the pain is still the same and I have that voice in my head that tells me this is never going to end.
Did I mention that cluster headaches have another name? Suicide headaches. Cluster headaches are considered one of the worst pains known to mankind and having them increases a person’s risk for suicide. Pleasant, right?
I’m explaining all of this to you because I had one this morning. The first one like this in a year. I probably could’ve expected it, but you always hope you never have to have one of those dreadful headaches again. This is my third year and it’s the exact same thing with the exact same thoughts running through my head.
Thoughts like I HATE YOU SATAN AND ALL YOUR STUPID DEMONS AND I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS BECAUSE I AM A DAUGHTER OF GOD AND I HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO SEND ALL OF YOU BACK TO THE PITS OF HELL IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST.
And then thoughts like JESUS, PLEASE HEAL ME. HEAL ME. PLEASE…PLEASE… PLEASE… PLEASE (and so on and so forth).
And then thoughts like LET ME DIE. JUST KILL ME. I CAN’T DO THIS.
And then thoughts like MY VOMIT TASTES LIKE GINGER ALE.
But you know what I think upsets me the most about these headaches? It’s not that they’re the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s not that I can’t stand or sit up or keep my food down. It’s not that I’m wanting to die. It’s not that my boyfriend is seeing this happen to me and has to hold my tangled hair back from my contorted, puffy-eyed face.
What upsets me the most is that I KNOW I have been given authority to command my body to be better and I KNOW God is good and delights in healing His children, but I can’t seem to get either of those things to happen.
My prayers felt powerless coming out of my mouth as the pain remained and nothing changed.
I had absolutely no control.
And that’s a scary thing to me because I almost always am in control (or at least I think I am). I don’t have much of a say in what the world does, but I can manage my own life and my own body and my own health and what I say or do. If I’m sick, I can go to the doctor and get medicine to make me better. If I don’t like a person, I can tell them to leave me alone and walk away. If I’m feeling something too strongly, I can write it out in a blog post or in my journal or in a song.
But today was a day in which I just couldn’t control things. I couldn’t control these bastardly headaches and I couldn’t control these ghastly thoughts and I couldn’t control the demons afflicting me or the God I expected to save me.
THAT is what upset me the most.
And that’s when the thoughts turned into WHAT KIND OF GOD WATCHES HIS CHILD SUFFER THIS TYPE OF PAIN AND NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT? WHAT KIND OF GOD HEARS HIS HURTING DAUGHTER’S PRAYERS AND REQUESTS AND DECIDES TO NOT GRANT THEM? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE LEARNING? ARE MY PRAYERS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?
And I wish I could say that He gave me this awesome revelation or I was healed right then and there. But I cried and vomited and rolled around for some time after these things transpired. I am feeling better now, but the healing wasn’t instantaneous and I didn’t walk away feeling as good as new.
But is God still good? Yes.
Do I still have faith? Always.
Do these headaches still suck? You bet.
But do I get through them alive? Every time.
This is not a post about God being cruel. This isn’t a post about how He chose to not heal me when I asked Him to and how that was so utterly wrong of Him. This isn’t a post about how there’s suffering in the world and nothing’s happening about it.
This is a post on time. That one thing NO ONE can control.
God authored time. A clockmaker gets a clock to tick, but whether or not that clock is working, time is still moving forward as we continue to orbit. And God lets this happen because time is HIS and His alone.
Why did I get this headache on a Tuesday morning versus any other day of the week? I don’t know. Why does this happen year after year? I don’t know. Why didn’t my headache go away the moment I called out his name? I don’t know.
And I don’t think I ever will know.
Just like I don’t know why death has to come early for some people and why he waits so many years before giving us the things we’ve been earnestly praying for.
All I know is that God is good and He has been faithful to me even in my wondering and questioning and faithlessness.
His decision to not heal me of my headache instantly is not an indicator of a lack of power or goodness or love. It is rather an expression of his power and goodness and love.
Why would I want to serve and follow a God who does everything I ask of Him the minute I ask it? If He did, I’d be engaged to a man I now know I didn’t have a chance of having a good relationship with. If He did, I would be knee-deep in a career I now know I wouldn’t enjoy. If He did, I would be the most impatient and faithLESS girl in the world.
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for (Hebrews 11:1-2).
The ancients– Noah, Abraham, Joseph, the marchers of Jericho, and many others– were not commended for how quickly their prayers were answered. They were commended for how faithful they remained when there appeared to be no answers. And what joy they must have received when their prayers were not only answered, but God was given the glory! He IS a God of power and goodness and love, they must have exclaimed.
If everything was done their way and in their timing, things wouldn’t have been the same. We would not know such ancients, such faithful warriors and servants of Christ. We would only know quick-fix prayers, which may do good for the body but not for the soul.
My soul has been healed this morning because I am reminded that God is the Master of time and He is a good one.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God has power to do what he promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:18-22).
I want to be like Abraham. I don’t want to stare at unanswered prayers and questions with skepticism and halfhearted hope. I want to stare at God, my good and faithful God, and I want to not waver in my belief.
I am persuaded that God has power to do what he promised. And He could’ve given me supernatural physical strength to send that blasted headache away forever, but He chose to gave me supernatural spiritual strength for my soul. That strength is faith. And I don’t see Him as a bad Father for that. No, He’s a very good one indeed.
I am healed.
In the book of Hebrews, the writer is speaking to the Hebrews hundreds of years after their ancestors had escaped Egypt to venture to the Promised Land under the guidance of Moses, one of the greatest Jewish heroes in the Old Testament.
It is evident from the first couple of chapters that the Hebrews are beginning to stray from the life they were called to live. The writer is advising them to look to Jesus, not just the familiar routine of their Jewish tradition. Instead of worshiping angels, who were considered great because of the messages and laws they delivered to their ancestors, they are told to worship Jesus, who is “as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” (1:4)
Instead of relying on the Law to save them, they are also advised to find salvation through faith in Jesus, who was able to “destroy him who holds the power of death- that is, the devil- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (2:14-15) The Hebrews might have thought that they could find their way to heaven through careful practice of their ancestors’ laws and traditions, but the writer was reminding them that Jesus made a way to heaven through his death and resurrection.
In order to boost the Hebrews’ confidence in Jesus, the writer even says “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.” (3:3) This is a mighty risky statement, considering Moses was considered by many the greatest in history. He led God’s people to the Promised Land and was given the Ten Commandments. Yet Jesus is raised higher.
Moses recognized there was someone greater than he, as seen in Deuteronomy when he tells the Israelites that “the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” (18:4) John the Baptist spoke of Jesus, as well. When questioned by priests and Levites, he denied being the Messiah, the One sent to save God’s people. He responded to their interrogations by using the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 40:3: “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ” (John 1:19-23) Isaiah, the greatest of the prophets, is speaking of One even higher than him, THE Prophet. Numerous time, major figures of the Old and New Testament attested that the Messiah was coming and He was to be praised above all.
So when Jesus finally shows up and dies for his people’s sins to make a way for heaven, why do the Hebrews resort back to the way of the past? The writer advises against this by quoting Psalm 95: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” This refers to the Israelites and how they turned away from God after their rescue from Egypt because of their disbelief. Even though they were on their way to the Promised Land, they still doubted God and failed to trust in Him.
“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” (Hebrews 4:1-2)
The Hebrews were guilty of not having faith, much like their ancestors. They knew Jesus came to offer salvation, yet they still looked to angels, the commandments of Moses, and their rituals and traditions to save them. It seems silly from our perspective that they would still fail to trust in God and His Son, even after being told time and time again that Jesus is far more than worthy of their praise.
But don’t we do the same?
Just like the Hebrews, we sometimes tend to focus too much on works and actions instead of the relationship with Jesus we are intended to build. We can go to church all we want and tithe all we want and help the needy all we want, but without earnestly seeking God, what good does it do? How will we ever grow? How will we reach the relationship He desires to have with us?
Just like the Hebrews, we harden our hearts and fail to believe God’s promises and truths. We keep coming back to the same lies we’ve been telling ourselves for years: “I can find my own way.” “I don’t need Jesus.” ” I’ll repent later.” “I’m not worthy.” “I don’t deserve to be loved.” “I’ll never find my way out of this mess.” “God can’t use me.” “There’s no point in my life.” “I could never make a difference.”
Even though we know what God does for us, we know Jesus saves all who believes, and we know we will be delivered, we still continue to doubt at times.
Where in your life are you suffering from disbelief? Where have you hardened your heart? Where have you looked elsewhere for salvation? Where are you chained?