To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. –Isaiah 61:3 (KJV)
This past year, 2013, I’ve felt like I have been rolling around in ashes calling out to the Lord for help. At the start of the year, my dad had undergone a procedure to protect his heart from the further development of Sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease that usually affects the lungs, but, in rare cases, the heart.This left me on edge, but undeterred. I found myself on weekends or odd days of the week taking him to doctor’s appointments, between traveling to Fayetteville or Lumberton or organizing PHW liaisons’ gatherings. In other cases, I would have an appointment with a pastor, a class to attend, and end the day with checking in on my parents. I couldn’t understand what was happening in my life. At the same time, I had dear ones in my life who were also going through drastic health changes with their parents; I was overwhelmed with compassion and tired.
“Lord, when are you coming back?” I found myself asking at night or in the middle of a day when I realized I was almost out of gas and needed to stop (no pun intended, I’m referring to my car!). Uggh, I don’t have time to stop for gas…Lord, is this stress truly the course you have for me?
If I couldn’t have imagined it being worse, throughout this time I had insomnia. I would wake up at 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. and would be up for two or three hours at a time. I thought it was stress. I didn’t know that it was actually symptoms of subclinical hyperthyroidism that I was diagnosed with in October. Breathe.
In December, my dad had a heart ablation. I was overwhelmed, but the Lord was faithful. I managed to finish up exams successfully, and wrap-up the end of year projects for work with time and energy I didn’t think I had. On top of that, other family members began to visit North Carolina from all over the country to stay and help in ways that I didn’t think possible at the time. I can rest. I can breathe. And that is how I’m embracing the New Year. The Lord is faithful. I did get beauty from the ashes of this past year. I’m really looking forward to 2014, and the new year of rest.