Fighting for Joy: His Goodness

It’s been a few weeks since I had the appointment with my doctor about how my body is reacting to the new diet and supplement regimen. The day of the appointment, I was scared, and to be honest, I was having a hard time trusting in God’s goodness. I was afraid that my body wasn’t responding. Over and over, my thoughts echoed lies. Sure, God is good, so why is He not being good to me? Why does my sanctification involve so much pain, exhaustion, trial, and sadness? The Lord could change my heart at His command, so why do I have to go through this? Things just don’t seem fair. My thoughts even went so far as, God doesn’t want to heal me because He wants me to stay in this spot. He wants to teach me; He wants to put me in the pressure cooker to see how I stand up.

After thinking on these thoughts for a while, God nudged me to pray. To pray that I would see His goodness despite the results of my blood work. To pray that my heart would be changed, that my attitude would change. That I would instead run to the Lord for comfort instead of running and hiding from Him in fear. Even to pray again for healing.

And what a distorted view of God I have! It’s something that I constantly have to fight for, to see His goodness. I so often trust in His sovereignty; however, seeing His sovereignty without His goodness is disastrous. (So is the other way around.) Seeing just His sovereignty causes us to think that He’s just an angry tyrant and we are His puppets. Seeing just His goodness causes us to think that He’s a senile grandfather who spoils His grandkids. But, He’s neither of those images. He is sovereign and He is good.

As always, the Lord didn’t allow my thoughts to continue down this dangerous path. He gently reminded me of what is true about Him. And as I think about it now, I’m brought to tears because I’m confident that He was fighting for me in those moments. If He didn’t care, my thoughts would’ve continued. The Lord reminded me that He is good despite my circumstances, that no matter what happens to me, I am alive because of Christ. And for that alone, I know He is good.

Ephesians 2:3-10 says, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

When I was disobedient and living for myself and the world, God made me alive in Christ through Jesus’ death and resurrection. I’m alive, not because of anything I did, but because the Lord was (and still is) gracious toward me. And because I’ve been made alive, I am a daughter of God. Because of this, God promises to give me good gifts, even when I can’t see it or when I don’t see them as gifts. This trial is a gift, and I constantly need to remember that.

In the end, the Lord answered multiple prayers that day, and He continues to answer these prayers. He showed me His goodness despite my circumstances. He allowed me to see joy because of Jesus. He changed my attitude and heart. And, as an added bonus, He started to heal me. Not only am I seeing changes in my energy level, but I also saw a change in the blood work. My body is responding, praise the Lord! I still have a long road ahead, but I know I’m getting better. Most importantly though, I’m seeing and experiencing the Gospel more than I ever would have without this process.

(And every time I hear this song, I am reminded of God’s goodness.)

My constant prayer is that God would be glorified in this and that others will see His Gospel through this. Though I often don’t know what God is doing, I’m thankful that He has revealed some of His glory to me through Jesus and what Jesus has accomplished for me. With that, I leave you with part of a Psalm I was reading today, Psalm 27. (I encourage you to read it all, because it’s so good.)

Psalm 27

Fighting for Joy: Attitude

Sorry I’ve left you with some unanswered health questions after the last post about discouragement. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget.

Let me rewind a little…

Shortly after the breaking point in September with the doctor who said no one could help me, I called what seemed like my last resort, Dr. Waldo, a functional medicine doctor in Indianapolis. (*Insert “Where’s Waldo?” reference.) Within a few weeks, I was in Indianapolis with my parents explaining my symptoms to the doctor. Immediately, he started nodding and chuckling, showing me that this would be an easy case for him. I walked out of the office with an unofficial diagnosis and with a more hopeful heart.

Three months and 20+ vials of bloodwork later, on my 23rd birthday, I had my next appointment with the official diagnosis based on the lab results and the biochemical makeup of my body. (It was amazing to listen to him piece it all together. He sounded like a child who just pieced together a 10,000-piece puzzle.) Without giving you the long scientific explanation, in short, I have lead and mercury toxicity, plus high ammonia levels and not enough good bacteria in my stomach to get the toxins out. These are causing my body to not be able to make melatonin or serotonin. This is also not allowing my body to eliminate toxins normally. It’s a vicious cycle of reabsorbing toxins, which makes all these problems worse. Needless to say, my body is “broken.”

A few weeks later (January 3), I started a strict rotating diet (low in sulfur and without preservatives, pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics) and an intense supplement regime. If you’re friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen pictures of the foods I’ve been eating or my attempts at cooking unfamiliar foods. Putting together the diet was like a puzzle, but the end result is shown below.

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(In the last few weeks, I’ve switched a few things around.)

The first four days were the hardest. My body was detoxing sugar and caffeine, which made me feel like I had the flu. And I was cranky. That’s probably an understatement. My poor parents had to deal with me and my attitude for those few days, but they showed me a lot of grace and kept reminding me that this is for my good and for healing.

It’s been exactly one month and one day since I started the diet, and it hasn’t been easy. I thought I was doing okay for a while, and then the dreams about food started. I would wake up and not remember what food was in my dream, but it caused a lot of discontentment with the food I’m currently eating. The dreams brought out a critical and frustrated attitude that was worse than any attitude I’ve dealt with before. There was even a point when I was in front of bowls filled with chips, pretzels, and desserts, and all I wanted to do was rebel. Not because I was hungry, but because I felt entitled to eat the food in front of me. By the grace of God, I didn’t give in. It was in that moment that I realized that I had been trying to walk through this in my own strength, not in total dependence to Jesus. In that moment, God exposed my heart idols of food, health, entitlement, and control. My attitude toward God was an attitude of entitlement. I want to eat what I want when I want to eat it. I should have good health because I eat better than a lot of other people. I shouldn’t have to spend hours cooking one meal every day. Yes, entitlement at its finest.

It’s this attitude that I have to fight constantly. The “I want what I want and when I want it” attitude. This attitude is sinful and robs me of joy in what God has given me. And it’s only by His grace and power that I can fight it. Not in my strength, but only in His.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

When we give our lives to Jesus, we belong to Him. We are no longer our own; we have been bought with a price. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we surrender our rights, our desires, our futures, our plans to Him. But we surrender it to Jesus, the only One worthy of our lives. The only One who can satisfy and give life.

When we surrender, we receive life and life abundantly.

If it’s one thing I’ve noticed in the last few months, it’s that complaining and having a critical attitude or attitude of entitlement really keeps us from experiencing the joy God has for us.

I have life in Jesus, and for that alone, I can be joyful. He has given me so much else that I don’t deserve, but because He loves me, He wants to provide me with good gifts. The doctor He provided is a gift. The food I can eat is a gift. The wonderful group of people surrounding and encouraging me through this; it’s a gift! And this trial is a gift, because the Lord is changing my heart and stripping me of myself so I can be more like Him.

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(This is me after a trip to Whole Foods. So thankful for that store!)

And I’ve noticed that as I thank God for what He has provided, I see more joy.

So, I ask you, wherever God has you, how is your attitude? To what rights are you clinging? Have you surrendered fully to Jesus and the life that He brings?

Here’s my challenge to you: Think of five things for which you can thank God. And in moments when you start to have a critical attitude, choose to thank God instead. Watch what happens!