Darkness seemed prevalent in our household…literally. I was young, about eight years old, when my older brother became critically ill. He suffered from chronic pain, headaches, fatigue, neurological symptoms, among many other symptoms that caused him to be bedridden at 12 years old. Because of his headaches and sensitivity to light, the window blinds remained closed and his door shut. I was young and I did not understand. All I knew is that he said he felt like a speeding truck hit him, and yet one hadn’t. All I knew is that when I wanted to cuddle next to him or hug him, I could only give him an air hug because of his skin sensitivity. All I knew is that he had become only 100 pounds at nearly 6 ft tall, ghostly white and immobilized when he had once been a boy of the outdoors.
My Godmother watched him often during these first months and I remember her talking about Jesus. She had always told us about Him, and I remember praying “the prayer” with her when I was young, but this is the first time I remember thinking about God, wrestling with Him. How could God do this to my brother…and then shortly after, my twin sister?
She got sick a year later, when we were nine years old. She used my grandma’s walker to slowly move across the house. My life became darker at this point because foil covered the windows in our room. I dressed for school every morning in the dark just to come home to a darkened room where my sister remained. She cried at night in pain and I remember crying silently with her. Yeah—I thought about God during these times: I questioned His goodness, His sovereignty, His love. But she loved Him and trusted Him and declared His goodness despite the pain she felt. I did not understand.
Well, we did figure out the cause of the illness—Lyme disease. And no, it is not uncommon for entire families to suffer from the same thing because we traveled to the same tick-infested areas together: campgrounds. And after the guys went hunting with the dogs, they’d bring home ticks.
So, being part of the family, I became sick too. However, because the diagnosis was obvious, I started treatment quickly after the symptoms began. I still felt the pain, though I can’t compare it to my siblings, and was unable to go to school for three years. Each year that my sister and I attempted to begin a new school year, we wore out quickly as our symptoms flared up, and surrendered to home school, which felt humiliating and defeating. But this is where the bitterness became sweet.
Even though I lived among a family who understood this disease and the pain it caused, I still felt completely alone. While I am still close with many friends I knew during this time, at such a young age, most of them did not understand the loneliness, the pain, the humility of this illness and the despair I felt. So as I was lying in my bed feeling alone, forgotten, fearful of what my life could amount to, I cried out: “I am so alone!” And a voice that was so distinct and powerful that it might as well been audible declared “YOU ARE NOT ALONE.” Suddenly, the presence of God came over me and tears of joy quickly replaced those of sorrow because I knew in full confidence that God was not only real, but that He was faithful, He was present, He was good. This began a sweet relationship with Jesus as I got to know Him intimately during this time of sickness.
Though I believed in God, it still took me time to grasp my need for a Savior. I am a sinner and without Jesus, I have no hope for salvation. Over time, I began to grasp this and accepted His gift of salvation through His death and resurrection. He saved me! He gave me hope.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2nd Corinthians 5:21)
Since this testimony, I have experienced testimony after testimony. There is pain and there is joy, but one thing is certain: I am not alone. And neither are you. And though you are a sinner and what you’ve done leaves you unworthy of a holy God and bound to death, what Jesus did is more powerful than the grave and nothing can separate you from His love if you choose to receive it. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Ask God to show you His presence and power and work of salvation, and then accept His love and seek Him with your whole heart. And please let me know if you have any questions.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13
I would love to hear your testimonies! Feel free to respond!