With confidence, the three men tell the king that the LORD will save them from the fiery furnace and they follow this bold statement with one of the most faithful and amazing lines in all of scripture: "But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
On Tuesday, September 12th, I went to bed feeling fine. On Wednesday morning, I woke up to the beginning of a new journey that I'm still trying to wrap my mind (and life) around. Fine Tuesday night; sudden onset of something called Lofgren's Syndrome on Wednesday morning. By Friday I was struggling to walk or move much, suffering from intense joint pain and swelling.
A doctor visit telling me I had the flu, an emergency room visit telling me that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and a subsequent hospital stay later, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune/inflammatory disease called Sarcoidosis. There are only 200,000 of us in the U.S (I always knew that I was special).
It is a systemic disease, meaning it can affect multiple organs, each needing to be assessed by a different specialist. The past month has included trips to Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Rheumatology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, and soon, Pulmonology. I have been poked and prodded and scanned to no end as we seek to discover where this disease is and just what it's up to.
I don't have all of the answers yet and, in all honesty, I still don't have a handle on what it is exactly that I'm dealing with here. I know that everyday is different. Most days I'm tired, some days in pain, others not.
I am still learning what it means to have this disease and how best to manage it/the symptoms. I have every reason to be incredibly hopeful that I will continue to respond well to treatment, and I'm extraordinarily fortunate to have such a knowledgeable team of specialists at Northwestern Hospital. A long way to go for doctor's visits, but I do not take for granted that I have access to it.
I am grateful that I was able to get back to work after a fairly brief absence, but I know that have to be a little more mindful of how I spend my energy right now. I am thankful that I can still do what I love with the people I love. My church is amazing, and some days I think my call here at Hillcrest Covenant is too good to be true. I could not ask for a better community with whom to do life.
I don't know if I will be one of the ones for whom treatment is effective after 1-2 years, and remission will occur. I don't know if I'll be someone who will have flare ups/relapses throughout my life. "They" have no idea what causes this and it's sometimes called the 'snowflake disease' because no two people react to it the same way (subsequently, no two people respond to treatment the same way). So there is no sure way to know how this story will unfold for me. But truth be told, there is no way for any one of us to know how our story or our days will unfold.
We all have our "things." Sarcoidosis is now one of mine. It is not all of me, just a part of me.
Certainly I pray for healing for myself, even as I pray for the healing of many I love who are suffering far worse than I am. But ultimately I desire to have the faith and confidence of the three men who, when faced with death (which I am not! Not now anyway!) were not only able to trust that God would spare them, but were able to proclaim their faith and trust that God is good even if their story doesn't unfold as they pray it will.
I realize full well that it is easier for me to say in my current situation than it is for many whose situations are filled with deeper pain, more significant illness, heartbreaking grief. It is difficult to say when we look out at a world that is so filled with heartbreak and division--when we see a world whose story isn't unfolding as it was created to.
I may not fully understand what I'm dealing with.
I may not know what tomorrow will hold.
My story may not unfold as I thought it would (with regard to my health or any other thing).
But I believe with all that I am, that even if not, He is still good...and that He is enough.
P.S. Nerdy like me? Here's some more info on this crazy thing: https://www.knowsarcoidosis.com