I am typing this as I sit in the middle of a McDonald’s at 8 am in the Zurich, Switzerland airport. I am the only person at McDonald’s (I guess there is no sense of urgency since breakfast is served all day now). I am simultaneously wired on coffee and exhausted from losing a night of sleep. You see, I did not catch a wink on my flight over here because the day before my trip, I unfortunately caught a cold, and day 2 congestion mixed with 40,000 feet of altitude is not a friendly combination. But my cold did however leave with me with a few funny moments* and a little nugget (subconscious McDonald’s reference) of wisdom.
The story requires a little preface. So, insert here back story:
Two days ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. She was talking about how this past month has been one absent of joy, which is normally a natural part of her nature. She just didn’t feel like herself and she felt weak.
When I was miles high in the air on my flight (feeling sick, weak, and unlike myself) I was thinking back to our conversation, and I remembered her words: “I feel like I am using all of the tools to battle against it, but it keeps coming back. Like the attacks and the thoughts that keep popping up shouldn’t be because I am doing everything I am supposed to do to stop it.”
She was telling the truth. I’ve watched her pray the prayers asking God to free her from this, speak truth out loud over lies, confess insecurities, and boldly tell the enemy to get away.
After our conversation, I asked her if she wanted to go up for prayer at church, and we walked up to my friend Jana. As Jana was praying, she explained that she knew exactly what this felt like, but now she was free from it. Jana said that she prayed over and over and over when she had gone through something similar, and then one day, out of nowhere, the switch flipped. Her depression was over. Her joy returned, and she doesn’t know why or how, but one day, the season finally ended.
Cue the Congestion Connection:
Two days ago, another thing happened. I started feeling an itch in my throat, and I knew what was coming- a cold. All the symptoms were there and I knew that I was going to do everything in my power to stop the congestion from coming on and I was going to show that bacteria who was boss.
So, I got “all the tools to battle against it, and I did everything I am supposed to do to stop it.” I went to Whole Body and spent an outrageous $50 on immune system products because the organic people convinced me that their gummies and essential oils would cure me, and I was desperate (but also skeptcial, so I still bought Nyquil and Advil as a backup plan).
I took all the pills, sprayed all the nasal spray, and boarded my flight. I thought I was doing okay, and then it all hit. The plane descended. My head was banging. I lost all hearing as my ears popped past layers I didn’t even know existed.
When the plan landed, I spent about three hours trying to yawn, holding my nose and blowing- utilizing all of the strategies. As I was googling “Will I ever regain my hearing?” …(dramatic I know,) I thought of my friend and how she has at moments wondered, “Will I ever get my joy back?” I’ve been there too, wondering “Will I eternally live in this state of attack when all I want is a snotrocket of lies to explode out of my head after I have been pushing and pushing for what seems like too long?”
She was convinced she maybe might never really hear truth again. I was convinced I might never actually hear again. Hours passed and I stopped thinking about it, and then out of NOWHERE while I was standing in line to board my next flight, they popped. I had a mini freak out, shared my enthusiasm with the stewardess who didn’t understand how big of a moment this was for me, and then I remembered what Jana told my friend in prayer.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, out of nowhere, it changes. The ears pop. The joy returns.
But there is nothing I can do to fix my sickness in my timing, no matter how many tools I think I’ve used that should justify my healing, God is in control. While the methods and prayers and medicines are helpful, He is the physician of my spiritual and physical needs, no matter how trivial or serious. And while the freedom does come, it comes on His terms, His will, His timing.
Anyways, I write this to encourage you that joy does indeed come. If you are convinced that you will live the rest of your life in partial freedom, if you have settled to believe that you are in an eternal funk that will never end, keep pushing. Keep pushing. It may take hours, weeks, months, but when you least expect it, your ears will pop and they will be open to hear the truths that were always being spoken over you.
*Funny true moment: When I got off of the plane, I went straight to the restroom (pictured above) and I fell asleep in the stall.