This morning I rose before the sun, belly still bloated from last night’s meal. I drank my green tea, mellowed with rice milk, and got my boys ready and off to school. I kissed them goodbye, but not the pain in my gut. As I sit here typing I am eyeing the clock, waiting for time to tell me I can eat two eggs and drink one more cup of tea. Today will be a good day.
Eight years ago my body broke when my digestive system crapped out on me . . . literally. After years of prayers, herbs, tears, diets, cuss-filled rants, and pain-filled, sleepless nights followed by depression induced sleep-filled days, I was finally able to see a specialist. He diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) caused by Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). It felt good to give this monster a name.
The long and the short of it is I am currently able to (somewhat) tolerate six foods. Some days I can eat only dinner. On good days I get two eggs mid-morning. Evening meals are always the same: steamed chicken or beef with broccoli, and sometimes white rice and carrots. Occasionally I’ll push it and try a different food, only to find the food pushes back—and it’s not worth it.
The problem is this: I have too much hydrogen and methane in my small intestine, which causes significant pain and bloating, food intolerances, and a variety of unpalatable GI issues. Antibiotics and diet help to a degree and for a time, but relapse is likely. Having high methane levels makes this more difficult to treat, and the antibiotic that is most effective for this can only be taken once every few years.
So, I’m hungry.
I’m hungry for so much More than food.
Any soft, warm, freshly baked bread will silence a growling gut, but there is only one Bread that will satisfy a hungry soul.
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
How do we hope in a world full of hurt? We hope beyond the headlines . . . we look for More than what we see. My hope had been in my faith, for my healing. It is now in and for so much More: My hope is in His faithfulness, my hope is for His glory.
Today, I thank God for my two meals. I thank Him for never leaving me alone in my pain, and for always feeding my deepest hunger.
Not that this kind of thankfulness comes easy—it doesn’t. I must remember God is working all things together for good because He IS good. Without this knowledge I nearsightedly stamp THIS SUCKS on sickness, suffering, injustice, and evil . . . and then give God a piece of my mind. I forget His plans are bigger, His power is greater, and His purposes always prevail.
His hatred for the sin that unleashed hell on earth is so much greater than ours; His compassion for His people—far beyond our comprehension. His mind-blowing love drove Him to take on our pain and punishment, and in return give us More than we could ever hope for or imagine.
Tim Keller wrote:
The Biblical view of things is resurrection—not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.
He goes on to quote C.S. Lewis:
They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.
Because Jesus flipped the script on the cross I can celebrate even in the midst of suffering. Here in the “now but not yet” I continue to pray for physical healing, and I praise God for sweet, intermittent tastes of freedom and relief. Although I’m not fully free . . . I am. Sickness has no hold on me because my hope is set on More, and while health may elude me for a time, my God never will. In well-being and light He is with me and loving me; in pain and darkness He is here, doing the same.
Thanks to Him alone, I am full on empty and hungry to share the love and goodness He’s given not only to me, but to all who will pull up a chair and feast on His Bread.