IN 2012, I WAS DIAGNOSED with lupus. The disease left me wheelchair bound for half a year.
Before my flare-up, I was working and going to school full time, which didn’t leave me with very much time to spend with God. In fact, I worked so hard that my body became constantly exhausted from work and study, and every free day I had was used to sleep. The day would be over by the time I woke up, and my week of work and school would begin again. My relationship with God was not something I put a lot of effort into.
C.S. Lewis writes, “God shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” My lupus flare-up was a time when I finally paid attention to God. I had physical pain that was difficult to relieve — medications, hot packs, cold packs, and rest would not make my pain go away. My feet had a constant burning feeling, and I was exhausted to the point where I was afraid to sleep; I knew when I woke up, I would feel the same pain all over again.
“God shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
I was disabled physically, and I had to completely rely on my parents and people around me to meet my most basic needs. I still remember the morning I realized I couldn’t move my fingers; it felt hopeless and humiliating at the same time. The lupus left me unable to use my hands. I was in an undergraduate program for piano performance, and I had to leave for the semester because I lost the ability to move my fingers. I felt useless and lost. What was I supposed to do now? All I could do was go home, rest, and pray that God would heal me.
Being completely bedridden gave me a lot of free time. Not being able to go anywhere I wanted to, or to use my hands to do simple things like write or feed myself, left me with a lot of time to think, reflect, and pray. Now that I didn’t have the activities I derived my identity from, such as playing music and being a worker bee, I was able to redefine where I located my identity.
It wasn’t easy because I would get frustrated about not being able to do anything externally. I wanted to be productive. But my suffering reminded me of how Job and Jesus also suffered, which served as a reminder that Jesus was still by my side. I began to realize that this time of being alone and bedridden was a chance for me to seek out what God had wanted me to learn.
Since I didn’t have to worry about school and work during this period, I had more time to reflect and pray. One of the biggest lessons God taught me was that I could only find true happiness in Him. I was created by God to serve Him. My prayer began to be one that asked God to show Himself to others through me. As hard and painful as my circumstances were, they provided space for God to shine through my life. The harder life became, the more I needed to hold on to God. And while there were good people around me, God is the only one who promises that He will never leave me — and can deliver on that promise — and He is the God who is in control of everything.
I also recognized there was a chance I would never fully recover from my sickness. I came to terms with this fear — if this was a way for God to be visible through me, then I would be satisfied with that.
If this was a way for God to be visible through me, then I would be satisfied with that.
God forced me to take a Sabbath. That half year was one of the most meaningful times I spent with Him.
I had to come to God with nothing to offer Him except for my pain, my tears, and my sick body. He gave me moments of peace and comfort, despite the deepest pain I experienced in my life. He reminded me in a mighty way that without Him, I am absolutely nothing but skin and bones. But because I am His child, someone He knew even before I was created, I have a purpose. If I had not gotten sick, I would have never been able to see that.
I had the chance to share my experience with another pianist who underwent shoulder surgery, which left him unable to play. He shared Psalm 23 with me, focusing on the line, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” God didn’t ask permission; He made him lie down. I felt very much the same way. I had been so caught up in my life and my own goals that I didn’t care about what God wanted for me. God had to make me lie down in green pastures. This involved me physically lying down for almost six months, but the result was that God restored my soul. I was able to come back before God and pray prayers that I meant. Now, when I sing songs and pray words of God’s goodness and love, I truly mean them with all my heart.
God didn’t ask permission; He made him lie down.
This Sabbath restored my relationship with God. I feel like I have only begun to realize how vast, wide, high, and deep His love is for me. I can still barely comprehend it. My experience has given me a tiny glimpse of my Savior’s love, that He endured the most excruciating and humiliating pain by dying on the cross for me. Through Christ’s suffering for humanity, I know and understand that He is truly with us and knows our pain. I love that I am now more aware of His love, which brings me comfort and peace. I realize how important it is to not just rest, but also to find restoration and refuge in God.
I realize how important it is to not just rest, but also to find restoration and refuge in God.
It’s been three years since my diagnosis. I was able to return to school and finish my undergraduate degree. By the end of 2013, I had regained strength and complete dexterity in my hands. That meant I could play the piano again and graduate with a music degree. I also made a few changes in my life because of my disease, one of which is making sure that I get adequate rest — not only physical rest, but rest in God. I recognize my need to abide in Him. When I take my faith seriously, I make time for Him. He is a priority in my life.