I apologize for the gross picture. It is a before and after of my journey that began May 22 and is still ongoing. I post it here to give you an idea of not only what I've been going through but how God works to get you where He wants you to be to fulfill His purposes. And yes, God will let bad things happen to you if the end result is His will.
For those of you who know me, you know I have an incurable disease called lymphedema. Long story short, my lymphatic system doesn't work correctly, and my lymph fluid does not come out the usual way (in your urine). Instead, the fluid builds up in my legs, hips and stomach causing congested tissue. In May, my legs grew so big and tight with fluid that it snapped my leg. Within a day, I had a full-blown case of cellulitis, which caused my leg to split open and leak lymph fluid (picture on the left). The leaking continued for about a month. There was so much fluid, I lost 44lbs! And yes, it was excruciating, like a bad burn. Currently, my leg is healing (picture on the right), but now I need physio because I have been lying in bed for a month, and my legs don't work like they used to.
All that to ask this - why would God let something like that happen to me? I saw the one reason my first night in the hospital.
I had been having problems for months with my legs expanding, and my pain was increasing, but with COVID, it wasn't easy to find help. God saw to it that I would have help and as I go forward, I am hoping that I will go home better prepared to deal with this disease.
The second reason I was here were my roommates. My first roommate had a nasty temper and took it out on the nurses. Things came to a head one day when she demanded to know what they were doing to me. It was none of her business, and I told her so and that she needed to be nicer to the nurses. She did not talk for hours. And then, later, as we were settling to sleep, a small voice says, "I'm sorry. I lost my husband in October and I'm scared and all alone." She heard my testimony that night. God placed me there for her.
My second roommate was a man. He was by far the most annoying person I have ever run across. He did everything in his power to make sure my mental health would suffer by having Facetime chats for three or four hours a day at as high a volume as possible. He would also have them at two in the morning. I retaliated by praying for him. I rarely got any sleep with him in the room, and while I might not have been there for him, he was there for me, in a way - teaching me patience, mercy and grace. All of which he severely tried.
My third roommate was delightful, and the day before I left, I discovered she didn't want to be a Christian because her father (who was a preacher) soured her on Christianity because of how he lived. I reminded her not to place her faith or experiences on other people because they will always let you down. I encouraged her to start looking to Jesus instead. I also found out she lives around the corner from me. I got her phone number, so I hope we can continue our discussions.
Now I am in quarantine for 14 days in a private room in a rehab hospital. For the most part, I am ignored because I can't go down to the gym for rehab. So I sit in bed or my wheelchair just longing to talk to someone. And guess what? Now I have time for serious prayer! A time to grow, study and learn. This time is now for God and me alone.
Does God allow bad things to happen to His followers? Yes! Is it to punish us? No! I echo Paul's words in Philippians 4:12, "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel."