Friday, August 29, 2014

The Purpose of Trials: 5 Things Being Diagnosed With Diabetes Has Taught Me

photo credit: Jill A. Brown via photopin cc
One thing I love about being an author is the ability to see my life through the lens of a story. When I go through a difficult situation, I know it's for a reason. Not necessarily because I believe that "everything in life happens for a reason", but because I know God is the author of my story. And when He's penning my life's story, there is nothing He is unaware of, no detail of my life that doesn't have a specific purpose.    

This is what I reminded myself of last week when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. So many Christians believe that we "deserve" to live a worry-free life since God is on our side, yet this is not the case.

John 16:33 (NLT) says,

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

When we give our lives to God, we can trust that every situation we face is in His hands. There are multiple reasons He may allow us to experience trials--one is so that we can learn lessons that we may not have grasped any other way.

In my case, there are already 5 things God has shown me since my diagnosis:

1. It's all about perspective. 

There is a positive and negative side to every situation, and we have the option to choose which to focus on. Ultimately, this decision is going to affect our mood. I don't know about you, but I would much rather look at the "bright side".

In this case, I am grateful that I now have a diagnosis and treatment. This past month I have been experiencing crazy symptoms: constant thirst, hair falling out, sudden weight loss, dizziness, etc. Now that I'm on treatment, these symptoms have subsided. (I've even gained back three pounds already!). How frustrating would it have been to come back from the doctor without a diagnosis or any way to treat those symptoms?

I am also very thankful that I did not get diagnosed with anything worse than diabetes. I can still live a normal life, I will just have to make adjustments. (And you can imagine how happy I was to find out that I can still drink coffee!)

So rather than blaming God for some illness you may now have--or for your "bad day"--trust Him and thank Him anyway. Satan wants us to focus on our problem because he knows we will become miserable by doing so. Yet when we lift our eyes and focus on God, we can see our situation through His eyes, and we will realize that "He is with us and will never leave us" (Deut. 31:8) and that "we are more than a conqueror through Him" (Rom. 8:37).

2. This life is not about us. 

I was only in the hospital for three days, but needless to say it was not very enjoyable. I don't know how people don't go crazy staying in a hospital bed all day, every day. I want to remember what that felt like, only because it is just a taste of what so many kids experience. I have always had a heart for kids in children's hospitals, and now the desire to reach out to them has increased even more.

It can become so easy to live with a selfish mindset. Besides, we go throughout our entire day focused on ourselves: our time, our desires, our tasks, etc. We tend to keep that mindset, all the while blinded to the needs and wants of others. Yet God says we are to put others before ourselves (Phil. 2:3). We are not called to live our days according to us. God has given us the gift of time, and we need to use that by being a blessing to others. There are so many ways we can reach out to those who are less fortunate, and even a portion of our day devoted to them could really make a difference.

3. God can turn around any situation that Satan meant for harm.

I believe that God can heal any and all sicknesses or diseases (Psalm 103:3)--yes, even the chronic Type 1 Diabetes. I believe that He can turn this situation around for good: whether its purpose is to become a testimony for others, to learn more about living a healthy lifestyle, to one day write a book that will relate to other teens with diabetes, or to simply to make me stronger.

Whatever the case, I am not going to let Satan win in this situation by letting this disease discourage me. Rather, I am going to trust that there is so much good that can result from this.

Genesis 50:20 (NLT) says:

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people."

4. God is aware of all of our situations.

Many Christians blame God for the hardships in their lives, assuming it's proof of His lack of love towards them.

This couldn't be further from the truth, and it always makes me upset when I hear another Christian say something along these lines. Again, God never said we would have a worry-free life, and just because we may face difficulties does not mean He isn't with us. 

Think about it: God sent His son to die a criminal's death on a cross. But that doesn't mean He didn't love Him! Rather, God knew the end result was going to be much greater than the momentary persecution. 

The good news is that we serve a big God: There is nothing we will face in life that is too big for Him, and He is with us every step of the way.

5. Trials build muscle. We were never intended to live a comfortable, smooth sailing life.

I always remember the movie Karate Kid when I'm put in an uncomfortable circumstance.

In that movie, the main character, Daniel, wants to learn how to do karate--but rather than learning how to fight, his instructor makes him do chores such as painting a fence, waxing a car, etc. Daniel doesn't understand the purpose behind this work and becomes frustrated that his instructor isn't allowing him to do what he really wants.

However, Daniel later realizes that he had been practicing for karate all along. Although those tasks seemed pointless to Daniel at the time, his instructor showed him that he was actually building the muscles he needed in order to learn karate. 

Similarly, many times God will answer our prayers by allowing us to go through trials that aren't necessarily comfortable. Yet rather than getting angry with him (like Daniel first was with his master), we need to understand that He sees the big-picture. Some prayers can only be answered through hardships. (For example: If you ask God for more patience, He may answer that prayer by putting you in situations that will give you no choice but to build patience.)

Whatever the case, trust that God knows what He is doing, He knows far more than you, and learn whatever lessons that He may be trying to teach you during this trial.

No, God did not call us to have a comfortable, smooth-sailing life. But I'm glad He didn't. He has a greater purpose for us than that, and the only way we can get there is if we first go through times that strengthen our faith and leave us with no choice but to rely on Him. 

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In the heat of a moment, it's not always easy to find the "bright side", or to remember that God is with us and can turn any situation around for good. However, it is during these times when it is crucial we do just that. We aren't called to only trust in God when our circumstances are going great!

When the Israelites were wandering around in the wilderness for years, they made their situation much worse than it could've been. Rather than continuing to thank God for freeing them from Egypt, they chose to complain; Rather than being grateful for the manna He blessed them with, they longed to have the food they used to eat in Egypt (Num. 11:4-6). Not only did this mindset during their wilderness cause them to be miserable, but it kept them from reaching their Promised Land.

When you go through a wilderness in your life, refuse to have the kind of attitude the Israelites did. Instead, thank God for the many ways He has blessed you and trust that His ways are always best.

Perhaps the only way you can reach your "promised land" is by first going through the wilderness--so if that's where you currently are in life, then you know there must be a promised land somewhere along the horizon. =)

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     ✎ Have you ever gone through a time when you had to completely rely on God to pull you through? Looking back, can you now see why God may have allowed you to go through that season? 

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  1. Praying for you, Tessa!
    -Emily and Mary S.

  2. Thank you for this post, Tessa. I'll be praying for you. Thank you for being so inspiring:)
    In Christ,

  3. You're very brave and an inspiration to have this reaction so soon to the news. I am praying for you, and thank you for the lessons you shared. I believe that God can work this for good too, and He will help you through it!

    There have been at least three times that I desperately needed God to pull me through a rough time, and He did. He did! It took patience, trusting Him, and doing my part to stay faithful to Him and His purposes. But the storm was worth, and I'm a better person because of it. Would't want to go through it again, but I thank God for what He taught me!

    Love, Katy

    1. Exactly! I’ve learned that it is always worth going through the “rain” before arriving at the “rainbow”. I’m reminded of the Scripture Romans 8:18 (NCV), which states:

      “The sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us.”

      This is such a great verse to remind ourselves when going through difficult times!

      Thank you for your comment, Katy!

  4. So sorry to hear about your diagnosis but I am glad you have such a good outlook on things.

    I can remember a wilderness I went through and to an extent am still going through. But looking back it allowed my family and I to grow. God uses tough times to help make us stronger and, even though it may hurt at the time, to pull us out of bad situations. Once the pain has died down you can see God's hand in things.


    1. So true! After I wrote this post, I came across James 1:2-3, which goes along perfectly with this topic:

      “My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.”

      It’s crazy to think that we should be full of joy in the MIDST of our suffering. Yet that is exactly what God wants us to do! We need to have His perspective while we go through tough times so we can see the many ways He might be using the situation for our benefit (whether it is to grow patience, faith, etc.)


    2. Great verse. I have one that I believe the Lord gave me when I was going through that tough time:

      Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. ~ John 16:20


    3. LOVE that verse! It actually reminds me of Psalm 30:5, which states: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

      Such a great reminder! Thank you for sharing this with me! =)

    4. You are welcome. I love Psalm 30:5 too. :)


  5. Praying for you, Tessa! Stay strong in the Lord and keep clinging to the truth of His word and His promises.

  6. Hey, Tessa!

    Wow! You have such an amazing attitude!

    My little sister was diagnosed with type 1 at five years old. She also had most of the symptoms: frequent urination, thirst, extreme weight loss, blue feet, etc.

    We had no idea what was going on and wanted to take her to the doctor, but money was tight at the time.

    Later one morning, she threw up brown vomit and couldn't even talk. She lie on the sofa, as pale as a ghost.

    My mom knelt by her side, giving her some orange juice (bad idea) and panicked.

    She was soon rushed to the hospital by my dad. As he tried to get through traffic and to the hospital, he would look over at her and yell, "Don't close your eyes!" Because she was ready to just pass out.

    When they made it to the hospital, the nurses and doctors checked her blood sugar. She was 777, which was extremely high. That told them she had diabetes.

    Thankfully, God helped us through that rough time. And I'm not gonna lie: diabetes does completely change your life, day-in and day-out. But you're not alone, and I will be praying 4 God's strength to help you through this difficult time.

    1. Oh my goodness, that’s horrible that your sister had to go through that! And at such a young age too. =/ I bet your parents were terrified.

      I had been showing symptoms for a little over three weeks before I finally went to the doctor. I’ve been so busy this summer I never got a chance to go! Plus, I figured it was just a vitamin deficiency. (I didn’t want to Google my symptoms since I knew that would only make me afraid, haha.)

      That’s crazy that your sister’s blood sugar was 777. Mine reached over 500, but I think that’s the highest it’s gotten. (Although there is no way of knowing, really.)

      Honestly, I don’t know how others get through situations like these without having God’s hand to hold onto. Thank you so much for your prayers!

      God bless <3


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