FREEEEEEDOM!! As my exams have finally ceased, I now have the time and mental capacity to return to my fortnightly blog. Thank you for being patient, I know you all have been desperate for a bit more of this Stepping-Out action. I mean, I can only assume that it’s what all your lives revolve around! Only joking, of course. I hope you all have been well and had a much needed break from my babbling.
Over the past few weeks, I have experienced a few personal miracles in relation to the exam season I have been in. I have always valued honesty, and the content of this post isn’t the prettiest of imagery; please read at your own risk.
In the weeks leading up to my exams, my middle, right-hand finger had started to feel some light, but very bearable pain. To begin with, I ignored it. However, after my exams had started, the pain increased to a constant throbbing (most likely made worse by intense periods of writing). Still hoping it would go away, I didn’t make a fuss and kept it to myself. Then it turned green. Uh-oh. I asked my family about it and they all told me that it was infected and I should have mentioned it ages ago. My 3 hour English exam was in two days and I was presently finding it very painful to write – no practise essays for me! I went to the GP and received some antibiotics and fortunately they got to work very quickly, reducing most of the swelling and discolouration over night! I was able to go into my exam and write fluently, at speed with no problem at all – Miracle No.1 Thank you Lord! Furthermore, the questions that came up had been the characters and topics that I’d actually had time to revise for, amongst all the chaos! I didn’t get a single awkward question that I hadn’t been fully prepared for (which had been a big concern of mine)! I feel I performed well and came out of that hall with a smile on my face – Miracle No.2 Thank you Lord!
But unfortunately, it gets worse. As I’m sure you know, with antibiotics you have to continue them until you finish their course – and some of them have side effects. A week later, I’ve finished my antibiotics and the diarrhea has begun. I told you to read at your own risk!! Don’t worry, I won’t tell you about the stools! I still had 5 exams left to sit and I was now spending more time letting all hell break loose on the loo than revising or sleeping. I was in vast amounts of pain with only minutes of peace in between episodes. I revised as best I could whenever I could, but I didn’t do even a quarter as much as I had intended. I fell into lots of prayer in those uncomfortable moments; something, I’ve now realised should inhabit more of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I do pray quite a lot, but this kind of prayer was so focused and all-consuming. Being all I felt able to do, through the pain and discomfort, I meditated on GOD, wordlessly worshiping Him, listening to His whispers of love and remembering His plans for me that have been made possible through His grace.
[IMPORTANT: I have not at all been anxious about my performance in my exams. The only reason I can think this is, is the trust I have in the Lord’s plans for me. Pass or fail. Firm-choice uni, insurance-choice uni or no uni. It really doesn’t matter when you have God backing you. I know where I want to go and what I want to do, but more than anything, I want to be obedient to Him. Whatever happens, I know He will use me for His good. Therefore, no anxiety whatsoever (ask my family if you don’t believe me ;)]
The reason this is important is because there is an argument that suggests that this next miracle could be explained by the effects of anxiety on the body. Knowing myself best, I don’t believe this to be true. I don’t have any evidence, but I can only testify that I was not feeling any anxiety other than the slight worry that I wouldn’t even be able to make it out of the door for my next exam. The evening prior to my next exam, I fell asleep and it was the first night in days where I hadn’t needed to jump up more than once or twice to relieve myself. I woke up with a sufficient amount of rest – Miracle No.3 Thank you Lord! However, I was still in a lot of pain and the morning’s repetitious loo visits were no different to any other day. Trying my best to get ready, feeling the potential embarrassment of having to ask an invigilator for help to go to the loo, I was beginning to feel a bit hopeless for this exam. What happened next was incredible. I turned the shower on and as soon as the warm water hit me, all the pain just washed away like a mini-baptism!! COMPLETELY. NO TRACE OF ANY BAD SENSATION – Miracle No.4 Tears of relief from the pain streamed from my face. I was a mess but I didn’t care. I felt an overwhelming sense of mercy and love. My saviour. My God. All I could do was blubber and sing (awfully) in praise. I remember it so vividly. The power of his mercy is SO GREAT that all I could plead was ‘I’m not worthy’, ‘I don’t deserve this’, ‘thank you, your love is so good’. I went in for the exam with no issues, and once again, the topics that came up were, by sheer “coincidence” (if you believe in those things), the ones I had time to cover in my irregular and unpredictable revision periods – Miracle No.5 Thank you Lord! Coming out, I was starting to think that if I do as well as I feel I’m doing, none of it is me. It’s all Him and His strength and He obviously has plans to use whatever results I get. If I don’t do as well as I think I’ve done, at least I’ll know that He gave me relief to save me embarrassment and if anything, that shows His love for me just as much. This is because even though He might have different plans for me, He still cares about the things I care about, and I love that!
One of the reasons I know this was a purposeful miracle, is because after the exam had finished, the symptoms returned (only to a lesser degree). Over the course of the last few exams, God repeated these miracles when I needed them and I gradually improved in the in between times. Now comes the slightly strange bit (I know – like it hasn’t been strange already, right?). After my very last exam, all my symptoms went away. I was fully healed. What does that suggest to you? To me, it suggests that my suffering was purposeful. Now, I don’t believe that God causes suffering most of the time. It is the consequence of the accumulation of the world’s sin. However, God being God, I do believe that He takes someone’s pain and turns it into something beautiful. And I do believe that sometimes, when it is necessary, He will put someone through suffering for their good – but when it’s God, it’s never more than they can bear. I think that perhaps I was given a handicap during my exam season to make me more aware of God’s presence and power in my life. Look at all I’ve learned from this season. Increased trust, increased prayer, revelations of mercy, personal love – all valuable things that I will be exploring on my gap year, and even more crucial things that I will need in LIFE! And now I’m going to do something that not many of us do, and something I never thought I would do. I am going to express my gratitude for the pain and suffering I’ve experienced.
So as I draw this strange returning blog post to a close, perhaps think for yourself about something (big or small) that you are suffering with or have suffered with in the past. Is there anything you’ve learned from those experiences? Try hard to join the dots. Is there anything wonderful that has come out of it. I could bet you there is. It just takes an soft heart to put aside the resentment and see it. Take some time. Spare a few seconds. Thank you Lord. Truly