Fear of flying / Refinement

Today, I’m sitting in my hospital bed thinking and wondering, dreaming and hoping.  I’ve come up with an idea, a proposition… Bear with me as I get there.

I suppose it’s like the fear of flying.

See, airports aren’t scary, but for some people they facilitate fear just because of their proximity to take offs, landings, and turbulence.

I’m not scared of nighttime, but it facilitates fear because I know bedtime is soon approaching.  It means that soon the people will go away and the quiet will set in.  It means I’ll soon be alone to fend for myself.  Plus, it’s all too clear to me that I don’t sleep well at night, and I have memories of some very traumatic nighttime attacks.

In the same manner, I can say I am not afraid of hospitals, IVs, tests, or doctors.  Even surgery, really.   They just facilitate my deepest fear that I know I’m in over my head with illnesses science can’t even control. Illnesses that prevent me from achieving my dreams, make each day a struggle, and put limits on my life in all sorts of ways. Illnesses that play with my mind, making me worry about where my insurance will come from once I leave my parents’ and what kind of guy would ever want to marry this kind of a disaster. Illnesses that produce hours of phone calls and sorting through bills, dealing with insurance, and filling out forms. Illnesses that easily fill a pillbox full of medications that have taken over my body. Illnesses that self-adjust differently each and every day, illnesses that threaten my ability to make plans.  And ultimately, illnesses that could one day kill me, taking me from the people and the life I so greatly love.  That’s the only thing I truly fear.

But for now, I think maybe my illnesses are like the 6th grade. You have to go – you may not want to but have no choice.  Reluctantly, you bring home new knowledge every day.  You can’t help it.  Fortunately, it makes you a better person as you learn about the world and gain social skills. 

Likewise, I don’t have a choice whether or not to be sick, but I can be grateful knowing at least it’s making me a better person. This lifetime has given me so much love, increased my patience, and given me an empathy most people can never obtain. It’s given me opportunities and experiences that are important to my life and career studying to be a nurse. And most precious to me, it has given me a choice to put my life in the Refiner’s fire as somehow He refines and uses this damaged life for His glory. 

And finally I say, if all of this has been for even one person to know Him, if all of this has been to keep one person afloat, then each and every painful part of it has been worth it.  All 19 years of it.

I can’t get the thought of “Refiner’s fire” out of my mind.  Malachi says,

For He will be like a refiner’s fire. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify and refine them. 

John Piper states,

He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.  But it does say, he is like a REFINER’S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.

May the crazy miracle of just getting through my days be to the glory of Him who holds my future.  Praise God for the hope of refinement, of our ability to choose to be bettered through the pain and turmoil of this life.

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