Did you ever want to give up? I’m a fighter, but the last few years I have felt like quitting. I got sick with what was labeled “chronic fatigue syndrome” (CFS) in August of 1995. Never mind that my disease was so bad I was tested for AIDS, negative, of course. That winter a friend wanted to pray for my healing. But I stepped back thinking God wanted me to be a mover and shaker, searching for the cause and treatment for this wretched disease. In two weeks I will attend yet another medical conference, and write a report on anything they mention that might remotely relate to treating CFS. Do I expect a miracle cure? No.
It’s been eighteen years since August, 1995, and I am still sick. Over the years when one of my doctors retires, the next doctor gets me tested for AIDS again. It’s getting to be a joke. I actually went out in the lobby once, and started telling everyone I had AIDS. I had a big smile on my face. My doctor came running along behind me saying, “No, she doesn’t. No, she doesn’t.” The reality is, those of us with CFS wish we had AIDS since most AIDS patients are doing well these days.
This past August I went to church, as usual, sort of wondering why I bothered. Yes, after fighting this for eighteen years, I am getting depressed. We sang the usual songs, recited the usual prayers. I was bored. Then the sermon began.
“And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (Luke 13:10-17)
The math part of my brain kicked in and started counting. Whoa! It was exactly eighteen years to the month since I got sick. My eyes filled with tears, and I began to pray, “Lord, I didn’t want healing eighteen years ago. May I beg for it now?” I left church that Sunday with renewed hope – not in the medical system – but in God.
It’s been two months since my epiphany. Am I healed? Not yet, but I have renewed hope to keep searching for what is wrong and how to fix it. Here is a poem I wrote several years ago to wrap up my book, “Fighting My War and Keeping My Peace.” The poem and the Bible verse still wraps it all up.
The Beginning of the End
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
I thought when I started writing this book
I would be well by the end of the book.
I thought at the beginning that bad things didn’t happen to good people,
and if they did they would be soon resolved.
I have seen the end of all human goodness in these ten years,
and the beginning of the only Goodness.
I watched the World Trade Center explode.
Some of us were busy making money that day.
Some of us came to the end of the way.
We all realized the need to be prepared for the end.
I watched a nephew die in an emergency room.
He was only thirty years old.
He died because a nurse triaged him as
“He will be fine in the morning”
while his heart was exploding.
He came to the end and the beginning too soon,
but his end was with God.
I now realize the ending is infinitely more important than the story,
because that is the real beginning of the next story.
I finally understand that I am not playing chess.
I am one of the chess pieces,
and things are going exactly as the Master Chess Player planned.
I know the day I get off the ride, out of the cage,
Will be the best day of all my days.
I know there is love, joy, hope, and peace
even in the midst of agony.
The young woman
who sang at my wedding
had made a vow
to sing only songs about
She could have sung
most anything well.
For years I sang
all the other songs,
and thought she was silly.
I have learned
that only some things are
those songs that move us
toward the end of the book
and toward the beginning
are worth singing.
At the end, I will be well.
I will shout, “Checkmate!”
But the taking of the king
has involved so much more
than I could ever have imagined
at the beginning of this book.
Speaking of timing, here is a song that reminds us to strike while the iron is hot.