ICD-9-CM 710.0"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalm 23:4-5
In recent years, I’ve grown to learn the power of prayer and I have realized that at the end of the day, you have nobody but yourself and God. We are so used to forgetting the grace of God when times are good, meaning we often wait for something to go wrong before remembering God. I am here to remind you of the importance of remembering God both in good times and in bad.
On October 28, 2014, I was diagnosed with an incurable disease. This was when I learned the power of prayer. Not that I never prayed before this, but the new consistency of my communication with God showed me that nothing is beyond me; God truly does not give you anything you cannot handle because by putting you in the situation, He has already given you a way out...an exit strategy. In the second week of December, I was privileged to go home and spend Christmas with my family in Nigeria but with my ailment, nights were a turmoil – swollen joints, high fevers, immobility. I cried most nights but I was constantly praying to God and an ounce of joy always came in the morning in terms of bearable pain. It was in those dire times that I realized prayer was my only way out and He never failed me.
Fast-forward to January 14th, 2015. God showed me something. He took my hand as I walked through the darkest phase of my life, even when death was knocking on my door. From a 104.2° fever to chest pains, pericarditis and frequent gasps for air, I was wheeled into the OR because they needed to operate on me immediately, under the predicament that I would not live past the next 6 hours. Turns out that the diagnosis had inflamed my kidneys and it was caught at Stage 4. After going through aggressive treatments including radiation and lots of steroids through IVs, I discovered that God really works wonders and stands by us in our bleakest moments. It hasn’t been an easy road and I cannot tell what the future will hold but with faith and the power of prayer, I believe in the grace of God’s exit strategy.
I’ve also learned from this experience, not to trust so easily. Take precaution, because the people you keep closest to you are mostly the ones who are prone to betraying you. Do you sometimes feel like whatever you do will never be good enough for some people or do people take you for granted because they know you are meek? Do you tend to forgive for fear of losing someone? Do you try to live up to the standards of others for fear of being perceived as average? Has someone said things against you and now others judge you?
I can say from personal experience that these are all minor setbacks because at some point, you pause. You think. And then you realize that you have this beautiful life ahead of you. You’re a healthy, breathing human being and life is so unpredictable, way too unpredictable to take anything for granted or focus on things that do not benefit your well being. You overlook these setbacks and you focus on what’s to come; what you can do with the gifts and talents you have, how you can change the world in your own little way, how you can BE the change… how you can be an instrument of God’s peace. In this moment, you realize that everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about, and just because you see them today, doesn’t mean that they would be as lucky as you in terms of being promised tomorrow.
This puts something in your character. There's suddenly a gnawing awareness to cherish and align your priorities because nothing is guaranteed. I realized this when I got discharged after my long hospital stay in January and I asked myself: What If? What if I wasn’t given another little chance? What if I kept focussing so much on what opinions others formed of me? What if I kept worrying about what other people said? I would have regretted the unfortunate fact that I never allowed myself to actually live. This was my awakening, my realization of life being too short to not be happy. That day, I chose to do things I had always wanted to do, to cherish the things I have often neglected, to talk to people, be adventurous and not hold anything back because my strength laid in my ability to get up and carry on, knowing that God was by my side. In the same vein, there are people who I will forever owe my gratitude to because God used them to facilitate my well being when I needed it the most.
Today, I choose to live! I choose to rave about the unfathomable wonders of God. I choose to believe in His ability to heal completely though currently being in and out of the hospital. Today, I also choose to fight for good health. So may we always find the strength to get back up from our downfalls. Be it from hurt, betrayal or whatever it is we are fighting so hard to get past, because forgiveness is not as easy as it may sometimes seem. I am still trying fervently to forgive being emotionally broken and tampered with, and it has not been easy but with time, the wounds get milder, softer… like rain effortlessly blending into the Nile. May we find the courage to face our battles, both inwardly and outwardly because we must recognize that no matter what we achieve, people will always find a fault in our accomplishments. But God has told us to not fight against flesh and blood but against principalities; powers. May we never feel inferior to others because we are and will always be worth it. Lastly, may we never forget how immensely blessed we are so that we try not to take for granted the little things we often overlook.
God has told us not to fear; He will be with us to protect us. If you believe that He parted the sea that we may walk on dry land, then it is safe to believe in His ability to heal both physically and emotionally regardless of what oddball life throws at us. This is where our faith lies and one of the many ways it is tested, both in good and in trying times because to be honest, if God is on your side, who can really be against you? So here’s to good health, the wonders of the world, appreciating God also when times are good, and the innate ability to discern right from wrong. But most of all, here’s to the precious, resplendent, irreplaceable gift of life.
“Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
Guest Article by: Omosivie A Edebiri
Photos by: Joseph Barrientos Breno Machado Marta Palwik Luis Llerena Oliver Berghold