Rereading a book that meant a lot to me, Tortured for Christ, caused me to reflect back on what I think of as my the lost decade in my life, my 30s, because I originally read the book in 1990.
Anyone who has gone through a serious health struggle understands the issue of loss. When we have a health crisis or a chronic condition, what comes with it are things like major life adjustments, testing, doctors appointments, treatment, timeout from life, etc.
My struggles with autoimmune issues began with asthma in my early thirties. That was not what sidelined me. In 1993 I was living in Minneapolis studying for the ministry. I began to feel tired and drained. I was always a high energy level person before that. I kept getting bronchitis too. By April 1994, I could not continue with my studies and returned to my home city. My symptoms progressively worsened slowly in the months to come. I had tests and doctors appointments, but nothing was diagnosed. It wasn’t until July 1995 that my problem was diagnosed. It was so simple to treat, but it wasn’t tested for earlier because I did not fit the profile for someone with hypothyroid. It is normally something women in midlife are diagnosed with or so I was told and I was a man in his thirties. My doctor told me my case was the worst he had seen in his career of over 30 years.
What that health crisis meant for me was leaving the school where I was studying for the ministry, relocating back to my home city, losing friends, and having my life basically decimated. Wow even as I write it, it seems depressing.
Even though it took another year to recover and then a few more years to finish my education, God was at work the whole time.
God can make sense out of situations even when it seems like they are full of twists and turns on our paths as Romans 8 promises:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
What was a lost decade in my life in the eyes of others and the world and admittedly in my eyes at times, was not lost to God.
Often when I visit my refugee friends in their homes, or teach my ESL classes, I think about how if I had not lost that decade of my thirties, I would have never met my refugee friends. I would have become a pastor in a church in a different city. I am not a super Christian. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t thank God for losing that decade. It would still feel crazy to me. But I am thankful God has led me through that time to have a ministry for people from all over the world.
Thank you for reading. God Bless.