Are You Hurting? Pray.

I have a deep love for the Bible. I always have. Not like my favorite books, of which there are many, the Bible frequently comes to me fresh and new. Not new, as in new versions, or a newly purchased copy – no, as in the message therin.

Because I was a church worker for twenty-two years, one might think I have most of the Bible memorized. One might be wrong. I have read it all the way through a few times, and there are more than a few verses stored in my memory bank, but I am no Bible scholar or expert. Actually, as long as we are speaking on assumptions, I should let you know that most church workers aren’t.

I just love the way I can pick up my Bible (or my phone with the Bible app) and find God’s actual words speaking to me today. Not just words written by some man thousands of years ago, but words that are alive, rich, and ready for me to ingest.

I have been dealing with a frustrating health issue for a few months, which has been only getting worse. It’s not life threatening – only exhausting. A few months back, I noticed I was sleeping more and more, longer and longer. I have always been a champion sleeper, able to sleep long hours and through just about any noise, but this was different. Seven to eight hours was no longer enough sleep. I was now needing nine to ten, sometimes twelve hours, and could still take a nap in between. And I have become increasingly forgetful. My brain is foggy on a good day, and murky on a bad one.

I went to the doctor and had a physical with all the blood work. We talked about the usual culprits – I am over weight, have low thyroid function, and I am a Type 2 diabetic. But all my tests came back, showing improved health over the last time. In fact, I’ve been making slow but steady improvements over the last couple of years. It didn’t make much sense to me or my doctor.

I left feeling frustrated, and he vowed to keep thinking on it. Then, this morning, as I read my Bible, these verses came across my page, from the book of James:

“Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to reckon with.”

James 5: 13-16; The Message

I stopped immediately and prayed. And then I texted a friend and asked her to pray. It’s not that I haven’t prayed about this before – I have many times. But in my frustration this morning of feeling so, so tired, I found myself whining a bit. I started thinking about all the good things I have going on in my life that I am not enjoying to the fullest. I started thinking about the things I could be doing, but have been missing out on. And I whined some more. But while praying over these verses, I asked God to bring healing. I asked God to bring joy.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in my 30’s. My doctor, at the time, gave me this diagnosis after I had a bad round of mono. It was my fourth time since age 15 to have it. I was exhausted for over a year, but eventually found my stride again. And truth be told, I hadn’t given it another thought since.

This morning, I got a message from the doctor: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I had messaged him about it last week, wondering if that is still a thing, or could be a thing, and it turns out yes, it’s a thing. And it’s my thing. Since he was not the doctor who had diagnosed me many years ago, it wasn’t on his radar. And since I hadn’t thought about it or struggled with it in almost fifteen years, it had fallen off mine.

Now that I think about it, it makes sense. A flare up of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be caused by a virus or physical ailment, but also by emotional strain. In the last twelve months, my daughter and oldest child graduated high school. We traveled most of the summer. Then we had a major electrical fire at our house the week before moving her to college. I spent the next six months dealing with repairs and insurance frustrations. I left my job of 22 years to take on a new role. My husband’s grandmother died. My husband’s car engine blew on his cross country trek to the funeral, leaving him with no choice but to buy a new car. And now my son (and my baby) is about to start his senior year of high school.

I’ve had a couple emotional strains this year.

You may look at the list and think, “She’s such a whiner! That’s nothing compared to what I’ve been through!” And if that were truly your response, I would reply, “I am so sorry you have been through so much worse.” And I would mean it, because that’s the funny thing about life… I have been through worse, too. But for whatever reason, my body has decided, at this point in time, to say, “Let’s sleep this one off.”

So this is what I’ve decided to do:

I’m going to rest when I need to rest. I’m going to sleep when I need to sleep. I’m going to drink lots of water. I will take my vitamins and go for walks. I will swim in my pool when I want to move, and I will float when I want to relax. I will praise God for all the blessings in my life, and I will cry out to him when my heart is heavy. I will call friends and make dates to see each other, because laughter really is the best medicine. And when I am too weary to do anything else, I will ask those same friends to pray for me.

And I will believe, as James reminded me this morning, that Jesus will heal me and put me back on my feet.