Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Diabetes & My Christian Faith

I've been a Christian since I was 10 years old. Not to say I've always lived my life the way that Christ would have liked me to, but I accepted Him as my Savior shortly before my 11th birthday. He's been a constant in my life, even when I tried to avoid Him.

Another constant in my life has been diabetes. I've actually had diabetes longer than I've been a Christian. Wow. I don't think I ever thought about that until I was typing that sentence.

Seeing as how these two aspects of my life have been in my life longer than almost anything else, you'd think I'd come to terms with both of them.

And I have. But I've always had a problem dealing with them and how they relate to each other. I've never blogged about my thoughts on the "healing" crap that gets passed around by all the "miracle cure" people. But I've commented on several of the blogs by those who have voiced their opinions.

I fully believe that my Jesus died for my sins and that He took stripes for my healing:

- 1 Peter 2:24 Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

-Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.

Those verses alone tell me that He can heal me. His decision to do so is up to Him. I am faithful and will do what needs to be done. If I get my healing here on Earth... FANTASTIC! If I don't get it until Heaven, I still get it and will be thankful in eternity for His healing.

I do believe that He's had a hand in my life with diabetes. In regards to complications... I have very few. I've been living with diabetes for almost 25 years. My care wasn't always the best. A large majority of my childhood and my young adult life (up through college) I took minimal care of myself at best. When I look at the state of my body after all of that, I can see His hand on my life.

In spite of all of this, I've always had a hard time relating my diabetes life and my Christian walk. I know they are intertwined, but I've always had a hard time putting the two together in my head. Too many people have asked (maybe not directly, but still...) "What are you doing wrong, that you've not gotten your healing? Do you not have enough faith?" While I know those statements are absurd, I've always found it easier to keep diabetes and church.... separate, for the most part. Easier on me. Easier on my brain.

Not long ago I found out that the New York Historical Society was going to be having an exhibition called Breakthrough: The Dramatic Story of the Discovery of Insulin. This looking incredibly interesting to me. But as you all know, I don't live in New York. And my yearly trip usually occurs in May. This exhibit is set to close long before May.

I had nearly resigned myself to missing yet ANOTHER thing in New York (and asking myself AGAIN why I don't actually live there...) when my roommate suggested we take a very quick weekend trip to the city. And by very quick I mean less than 24 hours, sleeping on a friends floor and turning around and driving back. She wanted to see a show again (I won't lie... I wanted to see this show again myself) and she had to go to Maryland that weekend anyway. By the time you get to Maryland, you're more than halfway to NYC anyway.... so we went.

It required me to survive for 3 days on very little sleep, and to take a day off work, but we went to New York. Both of us went to see the show, she went to spend the morning at Comic Con, and I spent the morning at the New York Historical Society after a VERY quick breakfast with Allison.

Just a side note: all of my NYC friends, I didn't really tell anyone I was coming because I knew I wouldn't have time to visit with anyone. No worries though, I'm coming back in the late spring....this time for and entire week!

Going to the NYHS exhibit by myself was one of the best things I think I have ever done. And just so you know, God speaks to people in all kinds of places and in all kinds of situations. He most recently spoke to me on a Sunday morning in New York City while I looked at one of the most touching, wonderful historic exhibits that I've ever seen.

All around the exhibit is the evidence of life. My life. As few as 85 years ago, diabetes was a death sentence. If insulin had not been discovered, I wouldn't be alive right now. Had I been born in another century, I wouldn't be alive right now. That's a scary thought.

There are letters and log books and insulin bottles from the very beginning of insulin production through current types. There are pictures of children, nearly wasted away before they received the life saving serum, and after pictures showing healthy happy children. Children that you wouldn't even know were sick just by looking.

There were so many things that I couldn't begin to tell them all to you. But around one corner was a quote, written on a wall. This quote was by Elliott Joslin.

"By the Christmas of 1922 I had witnessed so many near resurrections that I realized I was seeing enacted before my eyes Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones."

Wow. For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, it is found in Ezekiel chapter 37. Ezekiel, a prophet of God was given a vision by God.

Verse 1: The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,

Verse 2: And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

Verse 3: And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

Verse 4: Again He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.

Verse 7: So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the ones came together, bone to his bone.

Verse 8: And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Verse 10: So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

Although I've been familiar with this story for years (it's a favorite of my Pastor's), I stood and looked at that wall, with Dr. Joslin's quote, and realized that God was showing me something. He was showing me His hand in my diabetes. I was moved. I think I stood there for about 10 minutes, quietly staring, and praying. Thanking God for His hand on my life.

I knew my time was limited, so I continued on. Looking at pictures. Reading letters from patients that were sent to both Banting and Best (the scientists who helped discover insulin), and letters that were written to Dr. Elliott P. Joslin.

In one particular letter, written by a young adult who had received insulin and was living life quite well, there was another moment for me. I didn't write down the quote. I'm now wishing I had, but I can give it to you almost exactly. I don't think I'll ever forget it. The letter starts off telling Dr. Joslin of his good quality of life and thanks him for his help. Then, toward the bottom of the letter, the young man wrote "The persons who discovered insulit* should be thanked as they are following in the footsteps of the One who gives life more abundantly." Insulit was one of the early names/types of insulin.

John 10:10 has always been the verse I use to those who tell me that God gave me diabetes. I don't believe that. I never will. The verse reads: "The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

I can assure you that diabetes kills, steals and destroys. Therefore it cannot come from the One who give life more abundant.

When I read that reference to one of my favorite verses in scripture, I cried. I stood in the New York Historical Society building and cried. I cried tears of pain and of joy. Pain at what I, and every other person that lives with diabetes, deals with on a daily basis. Tears of joy for the message that God sent me "I am here. Even in the diabetes. I am as much a part of your diabetes as I am of you." And I cried tears of thanks that God used men to create something that has saved millions of lives.

When I left, I called my mother and cried again as I told her what I'd read, and what I heard from Him.

I know insulin is not a cure. I pray for a true cure on a regular basis. But until a cure, I thank God for insulin and the treatments that have allowed me to live a semi-normal life.

If you have a chance to visit this exhibit, please do. It is worth it. You may not get what I got out of it. I wouldn't expect you to. But I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. The historical significance and the items that are included are very interesting. It's worth it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that. I've had several things in my life that point out to me that God is in my diabetes. I love math, I hate pizza, I love to cook, I don't have a sweet tooth, I am a RN, I am sensitive to my body's feelings, I have a team of doctors that are my friends and my doctors.
I am a truly blessed diabetic. One day soon we will leave this earth and our pumps will stay behind.

Christine said...

Thank you! for writing so many things I have thought/felt. Thank you! for sharing how God spoke to you through the exhibit.


Jacquie said...

This is very powerful! Thanks for sharing it. (Glad you got to go!)

George said...

What an awesome post and I love how God talks to us. when I pay better attention I see His hand is all things. I wish I better at staying focused.

I keep trying to get it right!

Cara said...

George, I don't know that we ever get it completely right. We just have to keep trying. :)

Unknown said...

Hi Cara....I am really inspired by this post and admire your boldness in sharing it!!!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart :)

Anonymous said...

awesome. I really enjoyed this. And growing up a pastor's daughter, i was not familiar with this passage. I should probably read the bible more and stop bragging about all those bible quizzes I owned in Jr. High.

Sarah Wilson said...

Just stumbled onto your blog today and I LOVE this post. I am reading Breakthrough right now and it is such an amazing story! My daughter was diagnosed with T1 at 9 months old and I had someone tell me that if I just had enough Faith then she would be healed. Would be..not could be...like Faith has diabetes as some punishment to me for not having enough faith. Grr. How she could overlook all that God is doing THROUGH this? Thank you for sharing your heart on this, it was a blessing to me.

Mimi the kitten said...

Cara, thank you from the bottom of my very grateful heart for this post. I, too, have been diabetic for (slightly) longer than I've been born again in Christ - but His hand and grace were on us all along!