Choose Joy, Gratitude & Contentment, Idahome, Lupus and Chronic Illness, Personal

Learning to Suffer Well ~ June 2020

Hello, friends!

Despite all appearances to the contrary, it turns out that I have not fallen clear off the face of the earth at some point since my previous blog post! This spring has just been a whirlwind for me and my family – jam-packed with starting a new life in a new town, learning a new job, and dealing with a new health trial that I never saw coming (more details on that in a minute). All this newness, combined with the overall craziness that has defined the year 2020 up to this point, hopefully justifies my three-month-long hiatus from the world of blogging. There are some phases of life when one’s proverbial plate really is so full that certain things simply have to be allowed to fall by the wayside, at least for a season.

But crazy or not, plate filled to overflowing or not, I decided it was time to write a brief post to A) prove that I am still alive and B) update those of you who may be curious to know what is going on in my life at the moment and what God has been teaching me as I ride this roller coaster.

First, a brief synopsis of the past three months:

My family decided to pull ourselves up by the roots and move two hours south of our spot by the river and nestle into a cozy dip in the rolling hills of the Idaho Palouse. This involved selling our family home of more than 25 years and leaving our beautiful property on the Spokane River. (Did I mention that we no longer live by a river? I will probably bemoan this fact at least once more before this post is done!)

I was the first to pack up and head south, as God miraculously provided a full-time job opportunity at an amazing company in Moscow, Idaho, with a start date of May 18th. I am still in awe that this even came about at all . . . Right in the middle of the Covid-19 shutdown, when so many millions of people had lost their jobs and were in desperate need of employment, God graciously saw fit to open this door to me. My work involves Labor Skills Research and Data Curation (a fancy term for Poking Around the Internet and Keeping Track of All the Things!) and I work for cheerful, gracious people who are a pleasure to serve. I have officially been at this job for more than six weeks now and I still have to stop and pinch myself to be sure that it is real. I am grateful beyond words for God’s kindness to me and for the many clear ways in which He directed my steps to this job.

Wild roses at sunset . . .
one of the last photos I took
of our home by the river.
©ChaseBeautyChooseJoy, June 2020

Now, you might think that moving to a new city, leaving my family behind to pack up our belongings and move out of our family home, and learning the ropes at a brand new job would be enough to fill my plate to the full. And I would certainly agree with you. God never gives us more than we can handle (or so we’ve been told), so this will be good and plenty for me, thank you very much! But it turns out that God often does give us far, far more than we ever thought we could handle on our own . . . not to test our own strength, but to demonstrate HIS. God sometimes sees fit to send us overwhelming trials, not to give us a chance to prove that we can handle it, but to give us an opportunity to admit that we can’t. Why? Because as long as we think that we can handle hardship in our own strength, we will refuse to seek the Lord for the help that we have actually been needing all along. As soon as we think we have everything under control, we begin to rely on ourselves instead of on the One who grants every beat of our hearts and every expansion of our lungs as divine gifts from His hand. We begin to forget the One who holds us upright.

And so God, in His lovingkindness and care for our souls, unexpectedly lays us on our backs.

On May 12th, as I was preparing to drive a load of my belongings down to Moscow, God laid me on my back with the worst pain of my life. I won’t bore you with the details or a blow-by-blow account of the past seven weeks – I will just say that it turns out that I have a kidney stone that stubbornly refuses to give up residence in my body of its own accord, despite the usual treatments to encourage it to do so. And after multiple attacks of intense pain (if you’ve had a kidney stone, you know what I’m talking about . . . if you have not, I hope that you remain in happy ignorance for the rest of your life!) the time has come to surgically remove the little stinker from its happy home. I will be going under general anesthesia sometime between 4pm and 5pm on Wednesday, July 1st (surgery is scheduled to begin at 5pm Pacific time) and I covet your prayers. I have a complicated health history, which increases the odds both for complications during surgery and a slow recovery afterwards.  

God had brought me through many health-related trials in the past, but I think I can safely say that this kidney stone has been the hardest in terms of actual pain. I have had to rely on God’s strength and grace more than perhaps ever before. On several occasions in recent weeks, I have been in such agony that I barely had the presence of mind to pray for the pain to stop . . . and yet, I have somehow always been able to mutter the words “Yet not my will, but Thine be done” and to actually mean them. This is pure grace and completely, absolutely, 100% not of myself. In between the bouts of agonizing pain, I have been praying for strength to face the next attack and that God would somehow allow me to go through the pain without anger, without self-pity, and without lashing out in a way that might bring dishonor to my Lord. I have prayed that I would suffer well. I realize that even the mere desire for this is a pure gift of grace. I am thankful beyond words.

Comforting words from
“The Loveliness of Christ”

I know that there are reasons for this time of physical suffering that I may not see today, tomorrow, or ever, but that those reasons undoubtedly involve God’s glory, my own good, and the encouragement of those around me. I pray that God would use this trial, and any other trial He sees fit to bring me through in the future, to achieve all of these purposes.  Please pray with me that He would continue to give me patience and joy, even when my physical body is in the throes of pain and sickness.

~ Cassandra Marie

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
~ Psalm 27:13

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