Growing up, my parents taught my siblings and me what it meant to live a blessed life. I heard phrases like we are blessed to be a blessing. A heart that gives is able to receive. God blesses us in ways is ways others might not see. When you live an outward-focused life, God blesses. Even amid financial trouble, health scares, and countless faith-building situations, my parents never wavered in their belief of that. I continued through much of my life, believing wholeheartedly the same idea. It wasn’t until I encountered my own faith-building situation where I understood it for myself.
When the word for blessed is translated into the paleo Hebrew script, the letters depict something pretty amazing. The first symbol represents a house, tent, and family; the second is a symbol of a man being the head of the household, and the third is a symbol of an open palm of one’s hand, which represents giving and receiving. In Hebrew, it is understood to mean to give or receive an inheritance (house, family, land, or other natural resources of value).
My story begins my senior year of Bible school. Four weeks into my last semester, I was struck hard with something unexplainable. Within the following two weeks, I dropped 20 pounds and would endure sleepless and painful nights for the next coming months. Doctors couldn’t give concrete answers up until the time I went home. Once I was back home, I realized it was an autoimmune condition. I would continue to have flare ups, but by the following year, I became better. I continued to take it easy and rest well.
Spring of 2018, my condition took a turn for the worse and brought on Raynaud’s syndrome. One wrong procedure, a negligent doctor, I was facing a surgery that could entirely alter life as I knew it.
I think back most days and kick myself for being too trusting, accepting the first diagnosis, and not getting a second opinion. Perhaps all of those thoughts might be true, but then I hear my mom’s voice in my head. She would say that “God is not surprised by this.” She said it every time I cried, pouted, or got upset. I couldn’t understand how my problem could have gone from minuscule to colossal. I had sleepless nights from pain so intense I would scream and moan for hours. There were some desperate moments when I wanted to die to escape the torment I felt. What had happened to me was so rare that doctors were left amazed; It was a mystery how something could have happened to someone of my age and overall health. It was exhausting, taxing, but oh, the gratitude it brought to my heart.
I would love to say that I’m now completely cured of my condition, but the truth is I’m still waiting for that miracle. But even in the waiting, I can’t tell you how much my faith has grown for others. I know God can do instantaneous miracles though it hasn’t happened for me. My prayers have changed. If someone is praying for healing, I’m jumping at the chance to believe with them. My heart grieves for those that are hurting. That is indeed another blessing God placed in my hand. I believe He increased my faith and used such an unlikely circumstance to do it. I have always struggled with doubt and a pinch of unbelief. I think the enemy believed that this would take me out, but I’m so happy to say it did the exact opposite.
During this trial, I found something so special. I think back to those sleepless nights and how I found comfort in God’s Word. In those times, I felt God was right there with me keeping me company. I got to know Him in such a unique way. He became my confidant, my comforter, and my close friend. He is the blessing I found in the storm. My faith grew in the ground the enemy thought would choke the very life and love for God I possessed. The assurance that God is on my side and has called me has never been more apparent. I now have so much gratitude for the little things we take for granted. I find myself being grateful for walking down the stairs, nights of uninterrupted sleep, the ability to cook for myself.
I feel honored that God trusts me to carry out such a trial. It brought out a tenacity, a fight to go on, a strength, and unwavering faith in my Savior. I feel such a responsibility to tell my story and encourage others amid an uncertain trial. I have to admit I still have days when I want to feel sorry for myself, but somehow I’m always quickly reminded of what I’ve been through and the strength I now possess. A strength that only comes from above.
I think back to the image of the Pictographic letters of the word blessed, and I can’t help but zero in on the open hand. The open hand to give and receive doesn’t always look like what we might want. But it is always what we need, and He knows the end from the beginning. I’m so thankful that I decided to open my hand all those years ago. I gave Jesus my heart and my life, to do with it what He wanted.
This is how one lives The Blessed Life, by giving Jesus your all and trusting that He will see you through whatever He places in your hand.