By Rachel R
I was born blue, not breathing. I was surprised when I first received that piece of knowledge about a year ago. Although I cannot remember the exact occurrences (including surgeries and many hospital stays) that took place during my youth, I know that growing up with cystic fibrosis has molded me into who I am today. Over time I’ve come to learn how submitting my will to the Lord’s through faith has led to my being healthy today. As a child having this illness, I had a very difficult time gaining weight and absorbing nutrients. Every night my parents connected a pump to a gastrointestinal tube in my stomach to allow a nutritional solution to flow for weight gain. I will never forget the stench of it, and there were countless mornings that followed with nausea, loss of appetite, and occasional pain and discomfort. Still, during the continued night feedings in my childhood and early teen years, I was able to gain the needed nutrition and body weight to grow. By following the doctor’s counsel, I truly feel that the blessings and happiness that came and still come are from submitting my will to the Lord’s. Living today with cystic fibrosis is not always easy. In summary, it affects my lungs and digestive system as thick mucus is built up in my airways and digestive tract. There are many medications to be taken each day along with airway treatments and rigorous exercise. Today, I’m able to cope and although I may be considered “fun size” (5’1). I am strong and healthy.
Over time, the things I’ve experienced while fighting this life-threatening chronic condition have increased my understanding of how God loves His children. Because of His great love for each of us, He allows us all to go through difficult times that try our faith. Through our challenges and difficulties, we can grow and hopefully develop Christ-like attributes.
One of the ways we can show our faith during our trials is to find joy, even during hard times. The Lord has opened my eyes to the blessings that come through hardships. For instance, over time, one of my favorite hobbies became running. It was not a sudden passion, but grew as my health and lung function improved with each mile. Earlier this year, I decided to sign up for a half marathon. The months’ worth of training was exhausting and required much effort, but I was grateful to be able to cross the finish line. I could claim that my own efforts, self-discipline, and persistence were what allowed me to run the half marathon. However, as my throat stung with the sensation of trying to allow enough air in my lungs, as my legs wanted to give in while pacing up steep inclines, and as I wondered how I would reach each mile, I cannot deny that Heavenly Father listened to the prayers I sent. Each obstacle became more bearable and doable. Running a half marathon is just one of the examples in my life where obstacles seemed nearly impossible to accomplish with cystic fibrosis.
Through my experiences I’ve seen how having faith in God, especially during hardships, has allowed me to gain a fuller joy. The unique challenges in my life have been manageable only with the help of a loving Heavenly Father. That connection—the answers I’ve received along with peace and comfort– that comes through prayer has always brought peace and clarity, even during the most severe storms I’ve had to face. This is a way I have found true joy.
I have also found how peace and happiness come while submitting to the will of the Lord and trusting Him. We have a Savior who bled at every pore in Gethsemane for not only our sins, but for every sorrow or pain we’ve felt. Yet, during all of this, he submitted to Heavenly Father’s will for him, continuing to show His light as He stated: “I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.” This verse struck me as I realized how our Savior loved Heavenly Father to the point where He was willing to accept what was asked of Him. Although we are not expected to suffer as did Christ when he felt the pains and sorrows of everyone in an atoning sacrifice, we can follow His example by turning our will to the Lord. He desires that we grasp concepts or life lessons that can only be learned through certain trials we face. While we go about life’s challenges exercising our faith, we can grow into what our Heavenly Father wants us to become.
I truly feel that the blessings and resulting happiness that have come into my life are because of my willingness to find joy in living and submitting my will to the Lord no matter what. The reasons behind His guidance and counsel become apparent as we turn our will to His and look for the blessings during hard times.