Monday, October 3, 2016

My Time in Prison



Many years ago, when I first embarked on our family's homeschooling journey, I also had a medical transcription business.  After teaching the children their lessons, they would work independently while I transcribed, usually four hours a day.  The schedule worked out quite nicely for everyone...

Until, a  month into my first year of  homeschooling, I started to develop severe anxiety, dizziness and extreme weakness.  My youngest, at the time, was only in 1st grade, and my oldest was in 5th grade.  My husband couldn't take too many days off to help me, especially as the sickness dragged on.  And we didn't have family nearby that I could call upon.  This added to my anxiety as I felt the weight of being my children's sole caregiver when I could barely care for myself...

The doctors were perplexed as to what was causing my symptoms.  One doctor thought it might be a severe sinus infection and put me on heavy-duty antibiotics.  My endocrinologist thought it might be euthyroid sick syndrome.  I was somewhat relieved to "have a name" for my malady even though there wasn't anything definitive about that possible diagnosis, AND it didn't lesson the severity of the situation.  All my tests came up negative for mono, which my symptoms definitely mimicked.

The weakness I suffered with was incredible!  I couldn't even walk up the hall without my husband helping me.  My anxiety level was to the point that I actually wanted some type of anti-anxiety medication to aid in my symptoms.  And anyone who knows me knows I HATE taking medication!  Thankfully, my doctor did not want to prescribe anything like that, and I say thankfully, because as I would see in hindsight, the severity of my anxiety was related to the mystery illness.

Yet through it all, I somehow continued to homeschool from the couch and managed to complete my medical transcription work each day...

The Lord sustained me every step of the way...  But. in the midst of that trial, I failed to recognize His presence.

I became depressed and angry when each morning I would wake up with no sign of improvement.

About four weeks into the illness, my situation worsened and I ended up spending a day in the hospital where it was discovered I was severely dehydrated.  After being pumped full of IV saline, I felt like the Pillsbury Dough Boy!   The hospital released me finding nothing unusual in my blood work.  I was so discouraged to be leaving the hospital with no answers and feeling just as weak as I did when I entered...

My only consolation through this sickness, was talking to my friend Wendy who oddly enough was having similar symptoms to mine.  Yet talking on the phone would deplete my energy so quickly.

I was not in a good place spiritually as a result of what seemed like a never-ending sickness.  I essentially turned away from God rather than running and clinging to Him.  I didn't pray or read the Bible, the very things that would have strengthened me despite my physically weakened state.  I became frustrated with myself for not drawing near to God.

It was a very dark time for me.  I felt like I was in prison with no hope for parole...

And then one morning, in God's infinite mercy, I turned a corner.  I actually felt a little bit stronger.

In the days to follow, I began counting the small victories, like walking up the hall unaided, standing for longer periods of time, and walking around the house more and more; until one day all my strength was back!  I was free!  Free from the past six weeks I had spent in prison.

I don't have a testimony like a brother in the Lord of mine who experienced a severe bout with bipolar.  He was hospitalized, but despite his manic episode, he witnessed to other patients at the psychiatric facility about the love of Christ.  Clearly God took what appeared to be a bad situation from human standards and turned it into a great victory for the Kingdom.

My testimony was quite the contrary since I was basically "kicking and screaming" through the whole illness.

But God...

God used that time in prison for me to develop a trust in Him with trials that seem to be never-ending or maybe even hopeless.  A beacon to look back on and remember, God is the Great Deliverer who delivers in His perfect timing in His perfect way for His perfect purposes.

God has also used that situation in my life for ministering to others who are suffering with long-term illnesses to give them hope that God is in the business of deliverance and can redeem any situation how He lovingly determines.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, 
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

I found myself in prison again, this time for a quick stay...

I have shared in other blog posts that years ago I had discovered a lump in my neck that ended up being a good sized thyroid nodule which needed to be biopsied.  This struck fear in me at first!  Even though the doctor said, "If you have to get cancer, this is the best kind."  Really??

This time, instead of running from God, I mobilized God.  I had every prayer chain praying for me.  I also prayed fervently for myself for the Lord to bring healing to me.  I trusted Him with the thyroid nodule because He made my body and knows EVERYTHING about it.  Nothing is a surprise to Him!

The first biopsy came back with an inadequate specimen to test.  The doctor said they could try to do another biopsy in a week, but he was doubtful it would yield anything usable.  He was preparing me for what he believed would ultimately happen - a thyroidectomy.

But I continued to run to God and mobilize prayer warriors...

The biopsied nodule ended up growing back even bigger than the first time!  This seemed disconcerting to say the least!

But in looking back, I believe the nodule growing bigger, is what ultimately allowed the doctor to get an adequate specimen.  What seemed like a bad indicator, was actually the means whereby the good specimen was collected.  A specimen that came back showing "NO CANCER", and no need for a thyroidectomy!

Within a short time of initially discovering the lump, I had the peace of knowing that it was benign.

Throughout that brief trial, I was able to testify about what I expected my God to do and ultimately share before several congregations at a joint hymn sing about God's healing power.  Not only that, I was able to testify to my doctor, who was not a Christian, about the power of prayer and God's amazing love.

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About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.  He killed James the brother of John with the sword,  and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread.  And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.  So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.    Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.  And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”  And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.  When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him.  When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.  And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer.  Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!”  But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.
Acts 12:1-17

God used the Apostle Peter's time in prison to miraculously deliver him, quickly directing his steps to the brethren so that he could testify to them all that the Lord had done.


..they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.”  The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods.  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.  Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.  

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened.  When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and twas about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”  And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.”  But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.”  The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens.  So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city.  So 
they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
Acts 16:19-40

The Apostle Paul, while in prison, finds himself in a similar miraculous situation as the Apostle Peter did in the earlier account, yet he and Silas DID NOT leave when the prison doors flew open. The very act of staying in the prison cell despite the miracle was the means by which the Philippian jailer and his whole household came to a saving knowledge of Jesus.   Not only was an entire family converted, but Paul and Silas' time in prison and the events that took place became an offering of encouragement to the brethren.

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Do you feel imprisoned?  Are you in a time of trial that seems like it will never end?  

You may be waiting for a medical test result; healing for your marriage; salvation for your children; a loved one to be released from the bondage of addiction; relief from mental illness or the impending death of a loved one or even yourself from a terminal illness.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:25

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:5

Oh I pray that you will be encouraged by the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul, both of whom did not become discouraged in prison, but relied on the prayers of the Faithful as they themselves sang hymns, and rejoiced with great expectation for the God of Hope to bring deliverance, all the while testifying to the great love of God the Father.  God ordained both Peter's brief stay and Paul's extended stay in prison to accomplish His perfect will.

Our Heavenly Father may also ordain times in prison for us...  Having a Kingdom perspective in those short-term and long-term trials will bring us comfort knowing that our loving Father is accomplishing His perfect will for our lives and the lives of others.

I believe that one of the greatest gifts God gives us besides His precious Son's gift of Grace, is HOPE. We have Hope in Christ Jesus for EVERYTHING.   We can have that Hope because everything that touches us comes through the Father's loving hands.  

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23


Oh!  May we all trust God in and through our circumstances.  

And if like me, you have found yourself withdrawing from the Lord in your trials, may you be strengthened knowing that I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, {you will} strengthen your brothers {and sisters in the Lord}...

Our time in prison may be brief or extended.   It's hard not to be inwardly focused during our time of trial, but indeed, the time we spend in prison, God will use for the edification of others and His own Glory.  Let us be obedient vessels to that end.

Let our victory in Jesus be evident to all, even when we find ourselves in prison... 


You might find me on these link-ups:
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28 comments:

  1. Thank you for this.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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    1. You are very welcome.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. :-)

      Delete
  3. Thank you for sharing your stories. We can definintely imprision ourselves with discouraging thoughts and anger towards God. I've been in a cell before, too.

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    1. You are welcome.

      Thank you for sharing that very accurate insight. Indeed we imprison ourselves with discouraging thoughts and anger towards God.

      Praising God that He sets the captives free!

      Blessings,

      Delete
  4. I've also been in a prison cell, probably right next to you. I'm thankful God shows us light and helps us unlock the door to freedom in Him. Your story is a blessings. Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. Julie, You are probably right.

      Indeed! What a gracious and patient God we have.

      And your comment has blessed me. :-)

      You are welcome!

      Delete
  5. Beautiful, encouraging words here, dear friend. I am SO thankful God brought you through it all and gave you the victory at the end of your trials. I remember the scare you had with your thyroid and how God came on the scene and answered prayer for you. OH, He is a mighty God Who is absolutely worthy of our trust. I am so grateful for you and your precious encouragement and friendship. God bless you abundantly!

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    1. Thank you my sweet friend!

      Indeed, our God is might and absolutely worthy of our trust.

      Thank you so much Cheryl. Your words always bless me. :-)

      Many blessings to you! I think of you often.

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  6. Wow, thank you for being so honest with your struggles. You are a huge encouragement to me. My poor 9 year old has had a fever and severe cough for 3 days, and I know it's not that bad, but it sure is draining. Your post is what I needed to hear. Thanks.

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    1. Brenda, Praising God that you have found encouragement here.

      Awe. I remember those days. The constant care of a sick child, but moreso, we just want to take their discomfort away. The emotional aspect is the most draining.

      Praying your son feels better soon.

      May the Lord bless you with a restorative night sleep tonight.

      Thank you for sharing.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your story with us, friend. When we are going through the dark seasons it is nice to be reminded of the truth. I was just telling Bettie G, who suffers from chronic illness, that I don't understand why things happen but I know there are other people suffering out there who do not know they are loved by God, and I pray your words and her words find those hearts. Blessings to you!

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    1. Meg, You are welcome.

      Joining you in prayer that those who are suffering feel the love of God in a profound way.

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

      Blessings friend.

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  8. Yes, thank you for sharing your honest heart, Karen! As I walk through chronic illness, I understand the feeling of being in prison, or being "captive" as I wrote about. It has certainly changed my perspective and given me a deeper heart of compassion. May the Lord continue to bring hope to all who feel that suffering. And may the Lord Bless His heart in you!

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    1. Bettie, You are very welcome! :-)

      I am so sorry to hear about your chronic illness, but rejoice with you in how the Lord is redeeming your circumstances for His Glory and your testimony.

      May the God of all Comfort comfort you.

      Blessings,

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  9. What an incredible journey! Thank you for sharing what you learned along the way. Trial WILL come, and your encouragement will help us as we walk through those trials! Visiting from #heartencouragement

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    1. Kelly, You are very welcome! :-)

      You words really struck me. It is so true, the Lord has told us that trials WILL come, yet He will never leave us or forsake us.

      Thanks for sharing your insight and for your kind and encouraging words. :-)

      Blessings,

      Delete
  10. I've spent some time in prison as well. Thanks for sharing this encouragement.

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    1. Amber, Thanks so much for sharing here. I appreciate it very much!

      You are very welcome!

      Blessings,

      Delete
  11. Amen, Karen! We find the hope to walk through anything in Christ! Last year I began being sick with much of the same symptoms you talked about here. After almost a year and finally embracing a new life style, we found out that the new to us home we'd moved into was the culprit behind my illnesses. It was riddled with black mold and I was reacting to it! I have been so thankful to be gradually returning to health at this point. Enough damage was done that it will take awhile to heal completely, but I am praising God for our discovery!!!
    Blessings, my friend, and thank you for sharing HOPE with us at #MomentsofHope!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

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    1. Lori, Oh my! Thank you for sharing your story. Joining you in praise to our God and Father for giving the doctor's wisdom and bringing you healing.

      Now you've got me wondering... It was just before my mystery illness that I was spending a lot of time in our finished basement. My homeschool room was down there along with my office. I don't remember mold then, but we are discovering mold now. I don't know if it is the dangerous black mold (and I am going to see if I can have someone assess it. I believe we did have someone look at it one other time and it was not black mold.) but anyway, you've really got me thinking. Except my kids weren't affected or my husband. So idk. Maybe black mold only affects certain people.

      Thanks so much for sharing your story.

      Blessings to you Lori.

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    2. Wow I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue just after we moved out of a house highly infested with mold. My dad was just tested positive for being allergic to it. Mold is no joke! But God brings us through. Beautiful testimony, Karen!

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    3. Kelly, Oh my!

      After reading both of your comments, I am going to have our basement tested. I don't think we have a black mold issue, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

      Praising God for His patience and healing.

      Thanks for taking time to comment. I appreciate it!

      Delete
  12. An incredible journey with an amazing testimony of freedom through Christ. He frees us from the prison of our minds, our bodies, our ill health. Praise God!

    Thanks for sharing your story (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely evening.
    xoxo

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    1. Jennifer, Indeed and Amen!

      You are welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Same to you. :-)

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing this encouragement. I love the phrase, "But God..."! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!
    Tina

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    1. Tina, You are very welcome!

      I do too! :-)

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to comment.