What My Auto-Immune Disease Taught Me About God
Here’s the truth …
Several years ago, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. According to Healthline.com, an auto-immune disease “is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.”
For years I had been experiencing some, at times, debilitating symptoms. Every time I would go to the doctor, he/she would listen and then just give me a pill. I finally had enough. There had to be a better way to deal with all of this, because, honestly, the pills were not really helping. In fact, some of them just added more symptoms.
I began researching and found that by changing my diet, I might possibly see some changes. I spent the next month doing an “elimination diet” and to my surprise, all my symptoms slowly began disappearing! After my four weeks of elimination were up, I cautiously started re-introducing foods and began learning to distinguish which ones were “safe” and which ones were detrimental to my health. Within a few months, I had no more fibromyalgia pain. No more foggy brain and difficulty in concentration. No more weight gain, rather weight loss! While my anxiety levels decreased, my energy and zest for life increased. What had I eliminated that caused all these things to change drastically? Three things: Gluten, dairy, and sugar.
It has been almost a year since I have started this journey. I have found that I have an allergic reaction to gluten, most dairy has to be avoided, and most sugar. To be honest, it was very hard to stick to this new way of living, but the more I did it, the easier it got and the better I felt. One by one, my symptoms disappeared.
Now how in the world did that teach me about God? Well, as I began thinking about all the changes that have happened to me, it made me think that these same symptoms that caused such physical and emotional distress could also be examples of things that cause spiritual distress.
I have found that, just like gluten, dairy, and sugar cause foggy brain, pain, unnecessary weight gain, and anxiety, so does sin in my life. When I allow a steady diet of sin in my life and let it become a part of me, my spiritual health is affected. Things like pride, always having to be right, wanting what someone else has, never being content, anger, lying, etc., all make me sick. But there is a cure! I need to go on a spiritual elimination diet! In Colossians we read, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Colossians 3:8-10 KJV).
Sin clouds my thinking, causes pain, adds excess baggage for me to carry around, gives me anxiety and fear, and separates me from God, the Great Physician. Until I take care of those areas in my life that are in direct violation to God’s Word, I will continue to be spiritually sick.
Last summer I did something I have not done in years … years, people! I ran on our school’s track. Let me add here that I ran because I could, and not because something was chasing me! And wouldn’t you know, the Bible has something to say about that too: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus ...” (Hebrews 12:1-2a KJV).
Our spiritual life is a race with Heaven being the finish line. Just like running at the school track was easier (and possible!) without my physical symptoms, the spiritual race is easier to run without the weight and pain of sin. I have to be on guard now so that I don’t eat gluten or the wrong dairy or sugar. I must also be on guard not to let sin creep into my life. Like we read in Hebrews, the key is laying aside the sin “which so easily doth so beset us” and “[look] unto Jesus.” I do this by spending time in God’s Word, by obeying and applying what He tells me to do, and also by praying and confessing my sin.
I love what King David wrote in Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” And that, my friends, is what we need to pray every day.
I am glad that God gave me an auto-immune disease because it led me to better physical health and, more importantly, showed me how to have better spiritual health. I’m thankful that He shows me every day, in a thousand ways, His mercy and love. I want to live my physical and spiritual life in a way that honors Him.