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.
The book of Romans has been driving me crazy (in a good way) for the past couple of months, and one verse in particular has stuck in my mind.
“Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)
These words are so fancy. Like what on earth does it mean to be predestined? And not only that, but also to be called and justified and even glorified?
I’ve been coming humbly before God and begging for Him to show me what this means.
I know there’s a powerful meaning here.
After soaking it in for a couple days, I feel like I’m a few steps closer to understanding the implications of this verse and I figured someone could benefit from this too.
I’m sure I’m far from fully uncovering the truth, but this seems like a good start.
Predetermined: to be chosen, to be decreed from eternity by God
You and I are predetermined. We are chosen by God for a purpose. The scary thing about that is we don’t know what the full purpose is. Some people have been given insight into God’s plan for their life, but even then they don’t know it to the full. We are so clueless. Yet despite our cluelessness, the plan prevails. God set something into motion involving us since before we even came into this world. Just think about that for a second.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Repeat this after me: I am predestined.
Called: to be beckoned and invited, to be given a name or title
You and I are called. We are invited to something greater. We are invited to God himself. When Jesus gave his life up for us, the veil was torn and we no longer had to have that separation between us and Him. Not only that, but we are called a new name. We have been given a new title. I’m not just Jessie anymore, and you’re not just you. We are now His children. Ladies, you are his precious daughter, his beloved. Men, you are his son, his warrior. He is so proud of you.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
Repeat after me: I am called.
Justified: to be declared righteous and just, to be accepted and allowed
You and I are justified. We are declared righteous in His sight. We are accepted. The word “justified” can be confusing and I have stumbled over it for some time. How could I possibly be righteous in God’s sight when it’s clear I’m so… NOT? But here’s the shame-shattering truth: from the moment you received the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, you were washed clean. You’re not some sinner. You’re not some lost soul. You are redeemed and righteous.
What does that mean for our lives? That means that despite our confusion, our wandering, our mistakes and weaknesses, we are protected by the blood of Jesus. We WILL mess up. I definitely mess up daily. But I am still just as accepted and pure and perfect. In my imperfection, I am still perfect because Jesus was perfect enough to bestow that perfection upon me. And the same is completely true for you. Once you are a new creation in Christ, you are NEW.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
Repeat after me: I am justified.
Glorified: to be made glorious (like Jesus), to impart glory to something, to be celebrated, to be radiant
You and I are glorified. We are radiant. We are celebrated and exude the glory of God. And because of our gloriousness (bestowed upon us by Jesus), we can in return bestow glory upon Him. It’s such a beautiful cycle!
The more we look upon Jesus, the more we are made to be like him. And the more we are made to be like him, the more glory we bring to the Father. This is mind-blowing and yet I feel like we pay it so little attention. We forget about this constant sanctification that we are undergoing. We forget that everything is used by God. We forget that everything comes FROM Him and is FOR Him.
We are from God and for God.
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36)
Repeat after me: I am glorified.
I’m still learning what all of these things mean and I’m sure I’ll never fully understand. How amazing God’s truth is! It’s so amazing that we can’t even fully fathom it. Why would we serve and worship a God who we can fully comprehend and understand? No, it’s because of His mystery that we continue to come hungry and thirsty before Him.
I am so hungry for truth.
And if you’re hungry too, then start in God’s Word. Chew on what these things mean. Read the stories, the testimonies, the letters and exhortations.
I feel like we’re so darn busy sometimes, way too busy to let God fully do His work us. We’re too busy to hear Him out or really digest the wisdom and truth he’s wanting us to have. He needs us to just stop for a second and find rest in Him. We have to stop being such a “Martha” (poor Martha just can’t catch a break). We have to learn the art of being still.
And being still means that we cease striving.
It means that we cease striving to fill ourselves up with things that are not God himself.
Even in seeking truth, we can end up taking our eyes off of the truth, off of the main point. The main point and focus should always be God. The truth is found in Jesus. The wisdom is given to us by the Spirit. God wants us to know Him and He gives us all we need to do just that. But being still is a vital component of that.
I know this concept of being still doesn’t relate to Romans 8:30 directly, but if we are to understand the Word of God such as this verse, we do have to start with rest. We have to quiet down long enough. His voice is there, but sometimes we’re so busy that we miss it.
Be still and know that He is God.
We are predestined, called, justified, and glorified for Him.
I pray that we begin to understand more of what that means.