“It’s Not Against Flesh and Blood”
It was a long, hard summer.
I could clearly see the enemy attacking. Yet, I felt taken aback by the means with which he was attacking. The attack centered on my family and seemed to come from all sides. It began with our 19-year-old son who was serving as a counselor at a Christian camp for the summer. I got a text from him the second day of July:
“Mom, I need you to pick me up. They believe I may have Lyme’s disease. I’ve been in a lot of pain for a few days and parts of my body are so swollen I can hardly move them. I can’t drive myself home.”
When my husband and I arrived at camp, my son hobbled out looking like he had had a stroke. His jaw, neck, both shoulders, his wrists and hands, his knees, and finally his ankles and feet were all crippled by whatever was attacking him.
I took him to the ER as soon as we got back to town. He had a fever and inflammation; so, they began treating him for sepsis. They took tubes and bottles of blood and sent it off to the University of Minnesota that night. They even did x-rays and antibiotic treatments while he was still hooked up to the IV bags. My 19-year-old son was wheeled out to my vehicle late that night with the mysterious diagnosis of poly-arthritis due to some kind of infection.
We followed up for a month with our family physician and every doctor she thought could help her find the source of the inflammation and weakness. Every tick-borne disease test they could think of came back negative. We researched with friends and family and online sites to no avail. On a good day he had a couple of hours that he could hobble around weakly before he was in so much pain and fatigue that he ended up sleeping on the couch or slumped over in a wheelchair.
The only answers were non-specific tests that showed his inflammation level was over 200 points, and there may be an autoimmune disease involved. After looking down every avenue, our doctor finally made two referrals. The first was to a rheumatologist and the other to an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon could see us right away, but he said there was nothing he could do. He gave Ben a high dosage of Ibuprofen and sent us on our way telling us to see a rheumatologist. That same day we heard from the rheumatology clinic – the soonest Ben could be seen was October 18th. In July, the middle of October sounds like a year; especially when your child is in this kind of condition.
Meanwhile, I had family accusing me of risking my son’s health by not seeking enough medical attention for him. They also accused me of neglecting my daughter. They began attacking her character to other individuals in our family and their community. This was probably a bigger surprise to me than my son’s health issues. I have two grown sons. Another son who is a junior in high school, and my daughter who just turned 14. I am not a perfect mother, but we have all survived together this long, and I feel quite proud of their spiritual and emotional health.
None of this is something I can control. I cannot take either of these situations and do anything to change the length we have to wait just to meet with a doctor who may or may not have answers for my son. I cannot change another person’s choices, or even their opinions. It hurts, of course, but I don’t have time to curl up and worry. I have a daughter to love, a son to care for, a children’s ministry to lead, and, as of this year, a classroom full of second graders to teach. Besides, my God is bigger than all of this, and He is in control.
I finally remembered to pull out Ephesians 6 and pray through it. I want to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. (v.10) I remind myself of the truths I know from God’s Word. I put on the full armor of God so I can take my stand against the devil’s schemes. (v.11) And I remind myself every day, that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. That’s been the hardest part for me.
See, things are still unsettled. These are situations where I have had to sit back and release them to Jesus. Lord knows I have wanted to take them back and get worried or angry over them again and again over the last few months, but I can’t. My first inclination when I am being attacked is to see the cost to us physically, emotionally, and sometimes financially. I also begin to look at the other people involved and want to see their faults; make it all their fault, and I get defensive. The Lord is my shield and my fortress. He protects me and shelters me, but I get in the way if I do not stop and get out of His way.
As the days and weeks have slipped by, my son has recovered most of his “normal.” My daughter and I have grown closer in many ways. Actually, my nuclear family as a whole has grown closer. We can see that, individually, we stand strong in the Lord when we are fully armored and ready for the real struggle, but we are even stronger when we are prayerfully standing together as a fully-armored family unit faithfully serving and waiting on our Lord.
Father, thank You! My gratitude seems so weak compared with all You are to me and Your faithful love. I surrender and take upon me now the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of Peace, the Shield of Faith, and the Sword of the Holy Spirit. In all things I will strive to remember that my struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, and the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. In You I am strong, Lord Jesus. Amen.