Around 13 years ago, a Manhattan School of Music graduate with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance was diagnosed with a chronic inflammatory disease called Lupus. She was a private piano teacher, church pianist, part-time hospital translator (Korean-English), and mother of three (15 yr-old, 13 yr-old, & 8 yr-old).
On March 23, 2003, Lupus had successfully uprooted her and her family from Bergen County, New Jersey to Cobb County, Georgia. That talented, hardworking, compassionate, beautiful MSM graduate is my 엄마 (mom), and that blissfully ignorant 8 yr-old is me.
The human body is quite extraordinary. Our immune systems are complex and are designed to “seek and destroy” invaders of the body, including infectious agents. It is found that patients with autoimmune diseases often have abnormal antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues. Very simply put – (if our bodies were like cities and our immune systems were like its protection force) autoimmune diseases confuse the immune system to attack the good guys instead of the bad guys.
I’ve spent the better part of my life living under the same roof with an autoimmune disease called Lupus. Lupus affected every member of my family – for obvious reasons, my mom was the one who was hit the hardest.
Because I was so young at the time, I didn’t notice the changes in my mom’s physique. My mom was taking prednisone; this steroid’s most-feared side effect is weight gain. Steroids is a common treatment of autoimmune diseases but have very negative effects on the body in the long run. With my mom’s condition not getting any better, my parents decided to move down to Georgia – where my cousins had actually just moved. Apparently there were better doctors for her located in Atlanta; I guess the doctors in New Jersey decided to prescribe steroids as a last option because they didn’t know how else to help her. Warmer weather was supposed to be better for my mom anyway… So, with all of that being said – my family picked up our bags and moved to Georgia as soon as we could.
My mom is an incredibly talented pianist. It became evident to me how much Lupus affected her whenever she played the piano (& she played a lot!). There would be times when she’d want to play more, but she physically couldn’t – or times when I’d see her wince in pain after playing for a short period of time. Why do I share this? Isn’t it funny that her main method of worship to God was compromised because of Lupus – an incurable, inflammatory disease? The Enemy, otherwise known as Satan, must’ve really hated to see how much God enjoyed my mom’s worship to Him. Satan knows exactly what he’s doing to hinder our relationship with God and how to get under our skin.
I share all of these things because I know what it feels like to wonder if God is listening, especially in those moments where it feels like he’s silent. Whenever I prayed for healing over my mom, it felt like I was praying for rain in a drought that dragged on year after year. She was diagnosed when I was 8; I’m 21 now, and it’s still something that affects her daily. It also affects me and the other members of my family daily because it really pains us to see her physically suffering. A part of this is accepting that God’s answers to our problems are not always the solutions that we seek… which is a whole other blog post that I’ll actually be posting next Friday.
I’m a firm believer that spiritual warfare is all around us – in every moment of every day. There’s always a constant battle for who or what can sit and reign on the throne of our hearts. Some of it is super obvious, like my mom’s sickness. Other times, it’s in the unseen – it’s in the struggle of our hearts and minds (which is usually the case).
The truth and character of God is unchanging, unshakeable, unbending – uncompromising. Us, on the other hand (whether we’d like to admit it or not), are not. We’re quite the opposite; We’re quite fickle beings, constantly being pushed and pulled – and then pushed again – by the circumstances in our lives.
I asked God a lot of questions. Among all of the questions that I asked Him, this one came up a lot. “God, can you hear me? because I can’t hear you.” Satan very much took advantage of this time. You see – Satan knows God. He knows that God remains true to His character. He knows that God remains true to His promises. He knows that there is nothing that he can do to separate us from the love of God. So what else can he do? He can distort the truth, and he will do it. He’s actually quite good at it – so good, that it gets hard to separate the lies from the truth. These are 3 of the lies that he told me:
- God does not hear my prayers.
I would pray for healing every single time there was an opportunity or time set aside to pray. After years and years of praying, I began to wonder… Maybe God has selective hearing??? It’s not like He’s never answered any of my prayers. It’s just with this one request that I intentionally prayed for all the time – he never seemed to say anything.
- God is powerless.
If God is so powerful –
If God is the GOD who created the heavens and the earth –
If God CAN heal even lepers,
then why would he not be able to heal my mom?
- God is a big, fat liar.
He is not who He says that He is.
He is not a Healer, a Comforter, or a Provider of Peace.
Healing didn’t happen.
I definitely didn’t feel comforted because God seemed silent (and nothing was changing),
and I definitely didn’t have or feel peace.
Eventually, Satan was at a place where he could tell me the most outrageous, ridiculous lies, and I would believe it. I was falling into every trap in this mind game. Somewhere along the way, I began to feel guilty because I was healthy. It’s hard for me to admit this, but I really believed that; I felt really guilty.
I shared how I was feeling with my youth pastor at the time, and she made me realize how ridiculous that sounded. “I feel guilty because I’m healthy, and my mom is not.” Having good health is a blessing; It’s a gift from God. I shouldn’t feel ashamed about something that God had intentionally given to me. And this – this moment is when I learned to fight back with the Word. The Word is our sword (Ephesians 6:12-20 The Whole Armor of God). We ought to learn to wield it well, for God didn’t leave us defenseless.
Prayer is worth it, and it’s powerful. It’s even more powerful when we pray with the Word. Remaining faithful is worth it. God cannot not be faithful to us because it’s against His character – against who He is. Persistence in prayer (regardless of how I felt) grounded me in my faith, and I hope and pray that it would do the same for you.
James 1:2-4 ESV “Testing of Your Faith”
(2) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (4) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Trust that God’s decisions and plans for you are ultimately what’s best for you and what will bring Him the most glory. It’s definitely not easy to trust in that, and it takes time. The best things in life don’t come easy, but they are indeed worth the effort.
And for those who were wondering –
My mom is doing a lot better now, and she hasn’t taken prednisone in years. 🙂 I think 2002-2004 were the most difficult years for her physically. Because Lupus is a chronic condition, her hands are always somewhat (or sometimes very) swollen. Nowadays, she’s been in a lot of pain because the work that she does involves a lot of dexterity. So, if you could keep her in your prayers, I’d be super grateful.
Thanks for reading. 🙂 I hope and pray that you’d leave this site feeling encouraged (eep – maybe even empowered!). Please feel free to share this with whoever. Be blessed!