You may remember that during my stay in ICU at OHSU in Portland, the medical staff there ran over 100 tests to try to figure out what was happening in my body. Nothing was conclusive. As I left OHSU to return to Salem Hospital over a month later, one of the leading doctors said to me, "Well, you stumped us all." Another commented, "I guess we'll just have to call it the Stumbo syndrome." It was a mystery.
Eventually it was agreed upon that I have a condition called Dermatomyositis and this is what I continue to be treated for, but it is certain that I had far more going on in my body last year than just this. In spite of medicine's finest efforts, we'll never know exactly what happened last fall.
In late January, after 77 days of hospitalization, I finally returned home and fully expected a steady recovery. Instead, I had a roller coaster ride for the next six months. At times it felt like I was climbing towards recovery and then I'd plummet again. By July I really wasn't any better than I had been in January. However, from July to the present, I've made great progress. The most natural question to ask is why? What changed that I'm now improving?
The answer: it's a mystery. I do know that in July we kicked into a new level of prayer for a season. I know that at about the same time I had some changes in medication. I also know that during this time I became far more active in trying to exercise--getting out of the wheelchair on our walks and putting in some miles of my own. At first I could only walk the distance of a few lamp posts at the Salem walking bridge, but soon I was walking the whole length and more. I also entered a whole new level of physical therapy.
So what is it that is bringing my healing? Prayer? Medicine? Exercise? My answer: All of the above. God is bringing about my healing in a manner that intellectually I can't attribute to just one cause.
All along God has been healing me in such a way that I can't give full credit to the medical world, or my own efforts--God has been answering prayer, God has been at work. I don't doubt this at all. But at the same time I can't discredit man's role in this either--the medical community and my own. As I've often experienced in life, this again is the mysterious interplay between God's work and human effort. I haven't felt led to flush my medicine and stop all therapy. I certainly will continue to request prayer. There is an interchange of divine and human at work in my body.
No one can tell us how I got so sick--there is a mystery to it. No one can tell us exactly how I am getting better--there is a mystery to it. But I want you to know that God is in the mystery.
This leads me to the lesson of the day: If we will walk with God for a lifetime, we have to be willing to embrace mystery. Those who must have every question answered and every riddle solved will struggle in life. They will either lose faith or distort their faith because faith by very definition implies that we won't be able to see or know everything clearly. Mystery--not revealing everything to us to our satisfaction--is one effective faith-building tool God has historically used. The command comes, "Leave your homeland, Abram. I'm not telling you where you are going, but I'll let you know you get there." Many of us have taken that same journey. We venture out into the unknown, trusting that He will lead us along the way. This is faith. This is the Christian journey. This is to embrace mystery.
On the path with you,
PS You can now watch a portion of Steve Fowler's commissioning service at the Salem Alliance website. It was a meaningful day. I enjoyed the opportunity to be able to be part of it.
Steve's Commissioning Service