One sick day spilled into two. Two days lapsed into three days. Three days bled into a full week. Before I knew it, a week stretched into three weeks. How did we get here?
On that first day, I felt so miserable, I left my office early and didn’t much care that I had to cancel appointments, meets, and commitments. I figured a little extra R & R and I’d be up and around the next day, ready to meet the world with my usual gusto.
But when the next day proved to be not only not better, but worse and actually necessitated urgent medical care, all those around me knew it must be bad if this doctor would succumb to being the patient. I’m usually the one doling out the prescriptions, not receiving them.
Everyone in my family had been sick before me. I was determined not to join the ranks. I was usually very healthy. I ate right. I exercised. I took my vitamins. And yet, not only did I join them, but I got it much worse and ended up not only with a bad case of pneumonia but also the flu…at the same time. For weeks, breathing took all my energy. Anything else…sitting, talking, showering was a bonus, if it happened at all.
I’m usually the one people depend on to get things done; yet, the doctor’s orders for recovery echoed what God had whispered in my spirit: 1) Rest and 2) Stay calm. To do anything else risked my ability to catch my breath, and not being able to breathe was a sure recipe for panic. Ironically, anything else would have been an easier prescription for me.
I searched for answers to determine why I would be the one to get so sick—I was usually so strong and healthy. It seemed the more I beckoned God for answers, the quieter He was, and the more frustrated I became. Those first few days were a struggle to allow myself the rest I needed. I was still in the “doing” mode—even if the doing was searching, questioning, and learning. But in various ways, God kept bringing me back to three words: 1) Rest, 2) Trust, and 3) Surrender.
1. Remind myself, “that’s not today’s problem”.
So I sought to get quiet and do just that. As pressures from my daily life attempted to seep in, I reminded myself, “That’s not today’s problem. Today’s priority is rest. God will handle the rest.”
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)
2. Determine to take every thought captive.
As word of my condition got out, many tried to offer encouragement. It surprised me how many do not understand the power of the tongue (“The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21). Though they meant me no harm, many felt compelled to tell me horror stories of others with pneumonia or the flu, rather than speak words of life. Once I realized what was happening, I determined to take every thought captive and make them obedient to Christ while speaking healing and blessing to my own body.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)
3. Take care of my temple first and let God meet the needs of others.
I have a great desire to encourage and support others—sometimes to my own detriment. The last thing I want to do is let others down. Through this illness, I’ve had to learn to care for my temple first, and let God be responsible for meeting others’ needs.
4. He called me to rest, trust and surrender.
As I prepare mentally, emotionally and physically to re-enter normal life, I’ve had to recognize that it will be at a much slower pace than my pre-pneumonia condition. I simply do not have a choice, thanks to my compromised respiratory state. But more importantly, He has called me to extended rest, and to trust Him. *He has given me enough time in each day to accomplish whatever He calls me to, and it won’t require putting my health in jeopardy!
5. I must hold on to what I know, and trust Him.
When it comes to illness and disease, sometimes healing is instantaneous and sometimes it’s a process. Many have prayed and wondered why I didn’t get well sooner. I too wonder—I have kingdom work to do, after all. He often answers my prayers for others, but why not my own this time? That I cannot answer, but during a test, the teacher is usually silent. We do know, however, that He is faithful. He is good. He has a plan, and it is good. Because of Him, Hope Prevails! So despite all we don’t know, we must hold on to what we do know and trust Him.
6. When I don’t have the answers, It’s OK, because I trust the One who does.
As I’ve gone through this time, I’ve wrestled and grappled with many questions. Most remain unanswered. The conclusion I’ve come to is that it’s OK because I’m going to trust Him regardless. I don’t have to have the answers because I trust the One who does. In the words of Natalie Grant, I want the healer, more than the healing. I want the giver more than the giving. I want the Savior, more than the saving. I want Jesus most of all.
Friend, I don’t know what you are dealing with today. Maybe it’s illness, or relationship, job, or financial struggles. Whatever it is, God’s still in control. You may not understand what He’s doing, but you can trust your unknown future to a known God.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.