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A Series of Struggles

Posted by cbuchwalter , 21 January 2014 · 1204 views

Last semester was harder than I could have ever imagined. I expected it to be challenging, but never to the extent of what happened.

After spending 7 weeks overseas in Papua New Guinea, I arrived safely to my home in smalltown Orrville. I was only there for five days before picking up and moving back to Chi- town to begin my last year of college at Moody Bible Institute. Before returning to Chicago, I visited my local doctor, a logical thing to do after being in a tropical country where I could have contracted a number of illnesses. I asked him about my finger, which was definitely infected, and stomach issues I was having. He wrote me off as having a minor infection (took a slide to examine later) and simply travellers diarrhea, without doing any testing. I am no medical professional, so I had no choice but to agree and go home.

About a week later when I began my first week of fall semester, I received a phone call from my doctor back home. He sounded frantic as he explained that it was no ordinary infection in my finger. Apparently it was Staph Aureus and Strep A that was in my finger, highly contagious and spreads through one’s body with potentially severe damage. I was put on medicine right away. By the time the medicine wore off and my finger had improved, other issues began to surface.

Now let me keep this story in perspective – I had been living in a third world country for the entire summer. I was operating on a whole other time system. I came back to this: 19 credit hours, 5 jobs, 2 ministries, and 14 new girls on my hall. Life did not stop, waiting for me to catch up. I had to jump onto a moving train and hold on for dear life! Culture shock is impossible to describe. Those that have been overseas understand, but there is just this feeling of being lost and not knowing how to handle everything. Also, I ended a serious relationship (Which is a much longer story, but all you really need to know is that God made it clear to me that it was not right. God had other plans in store for me, so I did as He told me). At this same time, I began applying for the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I was excited to see how God would unfold my future, but the application required a lot of time and effort. Everything kept piling up…

I started having horrible stomach pain and a major loss of appetite (I will spare you all of the symptoms). Needless to say, I went to a clinic in Chicago and they told me I had a bacteria called H. Pylori. To summarize, it is a bacteria that eats away the lining of your stomach causing ulcers. I was then prescribed Prevpac, which involved taking 8 pills a day for two weeks. My body couldn’t handle it. After a week, I started having tremors, exhaustion, and muscle weakness. I spent a day in the clinic on an IV and she told me I could no longer take the medicine, but I would feel better the next day. That never happened. I still felt awful and was so weak.

After being physically sick for so long, discouragement began to set it. I would call or text my mom at least once a week wanting to quit and just go home. I didn’t see the point. I was beyond exhausted. I couldn’t even think! Homework assignments were hard to finish because I couldn’t concentrate that long. It seemed to me that the closer I was to doing what the Lord wanted for my life, and with every step of obedience, Satan tried to throw whatever he could to discourage me and keep me from following God. I knew Satan wanted to make me angry or throw the towel in. Instead of asking God “Why?” or “When will this all end?” I changed my prayer. “God, as long as You have me here, teach me what You want me to learn.” He felt really distant, but I kept praying and reading the Word.

After being in the hospital on an IV, my mom was ready to drive out to Chicago and bring me home herself! I didn’t want to leave because of missing classes. Finally, I gave in and went home for further testing. I was home for an entire week and after a series of tests the doctor discovered that I had C. Diff, which was a bacterial infection caused by the last round of intense medicine I was on. I ended up taking Flagyl for 20 days to help my body get over the newest issue. When that was all said and done, I still felt weak and had no appetite. I had lost about 10 pounds over time. I felt better for a short time after that prescription ended, but then issues began to resurface. God miraculously allowed me to be seen by a Gastroenterologist specialist two weeks later. Originally, every place we called could not get me in until the end of January. I was able to go home for an initial visit and assessment and returned to school for another week to take my finals.

Christmas break finally arrived. As soon as I was home I saw the Gastroenterologist again and had an endoscopy done. She took a biopsy, which came back clear. There was red dots and slight inflammation, which meant that something had been there but was gone now. (We will never know if H. Pylori truly was the original bacteria or if it was something else.) That meant I was healed! It took the entirety of break to rest and gain my full strength back. But I regained my appetite and was feeling significantly better. I was so thankful for doctors and having medicine so readily available.

I was able to talk to many people that I typically would not have an opportunity to share the Gospel with. It was a naturally open door. When I saw handfuls of doctors, they always asked where I was and what was I doing there. “I was in Papua New Guinea doing Bible Translation.” Coworkers would ask me, “Are you going to go back someday? Why?” I was able to share that the ministry in Papua New Guinea was worth the pain I was enduring. Of course I would go back (not necessarily to that specific country), God has burdened my heart to share the Gospel to unreached people. Some minor sickness is not going to scare me away from what He has prepared me for.

The Lord did a great deal of teaching me about trusting Him through the hardships. I knew He wouldn’t abandon me, and surely He has brought me through. He showed me that it is not in my own strength that I can do anything, but only in HIS.

God put a picture in my mind of the last semester. It was that of a furnace. All of my trials last year were a time of refining. The heat was intense and it hurt immensely; but I never would have grown or learned some of the deep truths in a new way without that time. I have a greater appreciation for being in such a place. In spite of the struggle, I would do it all over again just to grow and know the Lord more. It is a privilege that the Lord cared enough to know that what I needed was to be put in the fire, and even though He hates to see His children in pain, He does what is best for them.

As I begin my final semester, a lot is different compared to last semester. I am healthy and taking much fewer credits. But I know that there is a whole new set of challenges that await me. I only pray for God’s hand to uphold me and that I would remain faithful.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” - 2 Corinthians 12:9


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