I went to my church yesterday morning.
What’s so unusual about that? Well, apart from Easter Sunday, it’s the only time I’ve been there since February! I’m not deliberately ‘forsaking the assembly of the saints’ (Heb 10:25). It’s been unavoidable because I’ve been away at other churches but more recently because I’ve been battling with fatigue again.
To be honest some times are harder than others to cope with chronic fatigue and this is one of those times.
I feel frustrated that I’m not me; I miss the freedom I had; I feel limited in what I can plan to do; I can’t manage a regular routine or job; I don’t earn anything; I can’t do the long walks I so enjoyed; I sometimes feel afraid to go out because it can take so much effort to chat with people.
I feel a failure when I can’t do a ‘normal’ day and I want to explain why I can’t keep up or have to take a nap, so I don’t come across as lazy, disinterested or just plain self-absorbed. I feel like I’m not doing or being enough even when I’m trying to give 100% of what I have. It affects me mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
Plus I feel guilty for being a moan when I don’t do the “I’m fine” response and my honesty seems like a long list of negatives.
Just as David poured out His feelings and struggles in the Psalms before crying out BUT and turning his problems into praise, so I want to shift my focus from fatigue to His faithfulness in the midst of it all.
At the minute social gatherings like church feel overwhelming especially when Mr R is away leading worship somewhere else. So it was a challenge to go yesterday, never mind alone, BUT I want to share His great faithfulness in the midst of my fear.
On the way, I had asked God to bring someone who could ‘hold my hand’. A strange request!
I slipped in the back door and the first person I met was a friend whose mother is also struggling with the ups and downs of chronic fatigue so she could understand exactly how I was feeling. While we had a tearful hug in came a friend who had been so helpful at the start of this journey two years ago as her husband had previously been ill with post viral fatigue. The next person I saw was another dear friend who had also experienced chronic fatigue many years ago. After the service another friend who has been healed from ME also came straight over.
One of the verses mentioned in the service was Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God had indeed answered my strange request. He was reminding me that He is always with me in the midst of this and He is the one who is holding my hand. He gently led me from one source of His love, compassion and encouragement to another but He who always does “immeasurably more” (Eph 3:20) had an extra special surprise for me.
After the service I noticed a couple were sitting behind me who have a holiday home in the area and have often visited our church over the past 7 or 8 years. The husband asked to speak to me for a minute. He said he wanted to thank me for the way I had always been so friendly to them when they visited and that my friendliness had been instrumental in them becoming Christians! I was so touched by this and said he had no idea how much I needed to hear that, he tearfully replied “yes I do, because Jesus told me to tell you”.
How GREAT is His faithfulness!!
Thank you Lord for reminding me and showing me how much difference a simple, friendly hello can make.
Maybe you’ve been feeling afraid or discouraged, and on your own. I pray you too will know that “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” and you feel the comfort and security of Him walking through it all with you, holding your hand, “your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10 NIV)
Maybe you’ve been through difficult circumstances and you can now reach out to others going through similar situations. He can turn around this pain for your good, for the good of others and for His glory.
Whether you feel in the valley or on the mountain top, I pray you know the difference a friendly hello can make.