(By Diego Cuartas)
The path began this way: On October 27 I wrote in my journal, “With digestive issues, a muscle in my left arm hurting and eyes that seem weak these days I am reminded of how fragile we are–like the grass flower that is here today but gone tomorrow.” Then on October 30 I recorded the thoughts found in Psalm 8:4, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” This same day a few things unfolded that eventually formed the diagnosis of a Bell’s palsy case. While having breakfast I noticed my tongue was somewhat strange, it felt numb on one side. I dismissed it after suspecting that I might have burnt my tongue the day before during dinner without realizing it. By 11:30am the numbness had moved down toward my chin and then up toward my right side cheek. By noon I was feeling muscles around and above my right eye acting strangely. The symptoms intensified but remained in the same locations. After taking the necessary steps to seek counsel on what to do, I was referred by my doctor to go to the emergency room. I was reluctant to go but thought it would be better to do so. Four hours later I was diagnosed and treatment had begun. I could not believe how quickly something like that could develop and impose a series of limitations on my normal functions. If you had asked me in the first days that follow to hold water in my mouth while standing in front of you, I guarantee you an unsolicited splashing would have been experienced immediately. Half of my mouth would not close! I won’t burden you with details, but I noticed that my life was placed in a situation where thoughts were being filter through these key thoughts: “Am I really fragile?” and “Is God mindfully caring about my situation?”
For the last three weeks I have been the recipient of underserved grace. As the days progressed and the uncertainty of how soon recovery would take place, I was reminded of these truths God had so kindly revealed to me before I became sick. One thing I notice is that when God speaks to me, He is being merciful in that He is delivering something I need on that moment or day. But He is also orienting me for the future. The reality is I don’t see further than 12 inches beyond my next step. How gracious of God to speak to me three things that He knew I was going to need within hours. What He spoke to me through His Word became an anchor for my soul during the 21 days of this struggle. I must admit that as I write this blog I am still experiencing a remaining 3-5% limitation due to the condition. I am thankful and doing very well. The recovery has been incremental and felt daily. Here are the three things that God used to hold me while my body was adjusting to the abnormalities:
- Humans are fragile
- I am mindful of those I have created
- I care about them
This is not how I heard these statements. The way I heard them was more personal than that. It sounded more like this:
- Diego, you are fragile; this is who you really are
- Diego, I am mindful of you
- Diego I care about you
Another observation I make is that there are times when God speaks in some general terms, and there are other times when God speaks more personally. His voice was sustenance to my soul. And in the moments when other voices were introduced into my situation, it was very helpful to anchor my soul in God’s words.
God does accomplish a lot of things in our lives through hardships, but one thing that I am learning is that hearing God speak and orient me created a space for my soul and mind to glean other fruit God had prepared for me to receive. First, he created space for me to embrace a more humble approach to life—this was emphasized to me daily as I recognized that I could not do things the same way I was used to due to the limitations produced by my new condition. Second, he reoriented my soul to consider being more merciful toward others who are undergoing their own version of suffering or the limitations they involuntarily experience today.
So, we really don’t know how much there is for us tomorrow in what God speaks to us today. Perhaps we would listen more attentively. Perhaps we would cherish His voice as the voice of One who loves us. One who whispers into our ears, “I am mindful of you and I care for you”.
- In what experiences of your life are you feeling alone? Perhaps forsaken?
- Whose or what voice influences your heart the most?
- What kind of things is God providing space for you through your present hardships?
May God share His heart with you too.