29 years. It’s been 29 years since I first heard the words, you have arthritis. I was only 15 years old at the time and I had no way of knowing just how long this journey would be, and at times, how challenging and exhausting it would be some days.
When you’re 15, it is hard sometimes to understand the full scope of anything. Often you don’t see much past today, and it’s hard to understand the seriousness of something. That was how it was when I was told I had arthritis. I understood there would be challenges, I understood that there would be difficulties, I understood there would be pain, but I did not understand how exhausting the fight would be somedays.
For 29 years, day in and day out, I have fought my body. I do not remember what a day without pain feels like. On top of the arthritis, because of the medicines I have to take, and just getting older, more and more problems piled up. And now on top of that, I have Parkinson’s – none of these diseases have a cure, we can only treat the symptoms and hope to slow down the progress. Not a real encouraging thought.
In the lead up to my diagnosis, there were so many days where the pain and exhaustion were almost unbearable. I could not do the most basic things, and anything I tried to do, took 10 times the effort. In pain, exhausted, and frustrated, there are so many times when I sat beside my wife with tears in my eyes and simply said, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this, I am so tired of the fight.”
In my head I knew I would never get better. Yes, we might be able to ease the symptoms, yes, we may be able to slow down the disease, but healing, short of a miracle, would never happen. I knew each day would be a struggle, and the older I got, the harder the struggle would become. Every day I would have to fight my body to do the things that most people took for granted.
I will be honest, when I heard this diagnosis, my first thought was, “I can't do this; I’m so tired of fighting my body.” God, how can you give me one more thing to deal with? Haven’t I fought enough – don’t I have enough challenges already? By this point I was so tired (of even fighting to find out what I had) that I didn’t know if I could fight anymore. To be honest, some days I am still there, days when it is all I can do to keep moving forward.
I think if we all look at our life, and we were honest, we can find areas where we would say “I’m just so tired of the fight”. Maybe its finances, maybe it’s health, maybe it’s family issues – whatever the area is, many of us have been or are in this place. A place where we are ready to give up and throw in the towel, and simply say I’m done, I’m out.
We all have days, or times in our life like this. Days were we just do not think that we can take another step. Days when we think how do I go on, how do I keep fighting – fighting a battle I know I will never win?
It is in those moments, that the Lord, and those around me, help me to refocus, and remind me that HE will give me the strength to keep fighting.
Isaiah 40:29, 31 “He gives strength to the weary…the Lord will renew their strength…”.
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength…”.
Nehemiah 8:10 “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield…”.
Psalm 118:14 “The Lord is my strength and my defense…”.
On and on, in promise after promise, we are reminded that God will give us strength, day by day, to fight the battles set before us. Honestly, though, sometimes that is hard to feel and see through the fog and cloud of pain. I may not know how much longer I can do this, but He does, and He can and will give me the strength, just as He always has. Many times in these conversations, my wife would also remind me that I’m not just fighting for myself, but I'm also fighting for them – for my family – and with these reminders, one day at a time, I find the strength to keep fighting.
Am I tired of the fight – absolutely. Are there still days when I don't think I can keep going and I want to throw in the towel - most definitely. Do I have the strength to keep fighting – day by day, most definitely, for I am fighting for myself and my family, and HE will give me the strength I need to fight, one day at a time, for His strength is perfect in my weakness.