February 15, 2010

Diagnosis Dependency

Posted in Disability, Prayer Request tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:27 pm by Sarah Bosse

This has been an interesting week.  I’ve seen a few doctors, had my blood drawn and a few x-rays taken, and continued to push through each exhausting day by the grace of God.  I received the diagnosis of Celiac Disease this week.  I wasn’t surprised – I have been on a gluten-free diet since July 28, 2009 – about six months – because I strongly suspected either gluten intolerance or Celiac Sprue.

There are two ways to react to a diagnosis that I think are common among people who have been SEARCHING for the right diagnosis for a long time (i.e. years).  First, there is relief. Relief in the fact that a few of the unknowns are now known and there is a potential plan (depending on the diagnosis) for what one can do to improve his/her quality of life.  Then the second response is sadness. Sadness because, while it’s nice to have answers, a person must still live with his/her diagnosis on a daily basis.  And these two feelings alternate and intermingle.  I feel both relief and sadness, often at the same time.

My doctor thinks there may still be more behind my ills than simply Celiac Disease.  So while it’s nice to have a diagnosis that I can do something about (The way to control Celiac Sprue is to avoid all gluten-containing foods…easier said than done, but possible.), we don’t have all the answers.  Is my fibromyalgia caused by Celiac Disease and the resulting nutritional deficiencies?  Is it caused by something else – some other autoimmune disorder?  There are still many more questions than answers.

So I called a friend earlier this week to discuss my thoughts and frustrations.  We talked for a while about how we were each “searching for the right diagnosis”.  She had sought a diagnosis for more than 10 years and finally been diagnosed.  But then, this year, her new doctor wasn’t convinced of her diagnosis and she’s back at square one, being told that her doctors “don’t know what she has”.  Ouch.  I’ve been told it was everything from IBS to a problem “in [my] head,” and now it’s Celiac Disease.  The diagnosis keeps changing, and probably will continue to change as the years march on.

It is easy to get caught in the trap of seeking worldly wisdom or knowledge.  There’s a certain level of false comfort one can receive from believing that he/she now has been correctly diagnosed and that doctors know what to do about the problem.

There are several reasons for why this is a FALSE comfort:
*  We may put our faith in doctors (people…some of them are at least…), rather than in the Great Physician – God.  Everyone but God may fail us, but God remains true to His Word.
*  A diagnosis may change over time; God doesn’t change.
*  Being so focused on having a diagnosis may lead us to value comfort in this life (so-called “quality of life”?) over living for God’s purposes (which, by the way, don’t frequently take personal comfort into account).
*  Our thoughts may be taken up with thinking too much of ourselves and “our problems” rather than with asking God what He wants us to do with the brief time He’s put us on earth.  We meditate on ourselves rather than on God, and therefore do not love the Lord with our minds.

Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

There are some real promises here in Proverbs 3.  If we trust the Lord, depending on Him rather than on a diagnosis, and we let go of our conceptions of “wisdom” and seek spiritual wisdom from His Spirit, submitting our meditations and worries to His care, thereby turning away from evil…God says that this will be healing for our flesh and refreshment to our bones.  There’s a real physical and spiritual gain to be had here by adopting God Dependency and forsaking Diagnosis Dependency.

Trusting God means we don’t get dejected. We will still have emotions – we are human; not robots…and even God has emotions.  But our joy doesn’t ride on the back of a diagnosis – it soars on the wings of Love, over and above everything that a diagnosis does or does not mean during our short lives.  That “healing to your flesh” and “refreshment to your bones” might well come from NOT WORRYING.

Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The “burden” we have when we concern ourselves with the things of God is lighter than the burden we carry when we concern ourselves with matters that should be God’s to handle in the first place.  He gives us fewer to take on than we choose or try to take on ourselves.  And so we worry about things we cannot change.

James MacDonald assembles these ideas succinctly:

“Rest is best understood as “peace without resolution”….I have been poring over Psalm 37, praying for understanding as to how that promised rest (Matthew 11:28-30) is experienced.  My study and meditation on Psalm 37 has yielded this single insight which has been incredibly impacting for me.

Trust without Waiting = Striving. I have done too much of that.  Proverbs 20:3, “It is good that a man should stop striving.”

Waiting without Trusting = Worrying. I have done too much of that.   Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life.”

Trusting + Waiting = Rest. I trust that God will work for my good.  I have done what I know to do, and now I must wait for Him.  I am at rest!  I have peace without resolution, and it is a wonderful experience for which I thank the Lord.”

God, please help me to adopt God Dependency and forsake my sinful Diagnosis Dependency.  Help me to trust you, stop worrying and striving, and take up the rest and healing you promise to give.  I don’t need to know all the answers – YOU are my Answer, Lord.  Thank You for Your faithfulness and steadfast love.


  1. Kelly said,

    Thank you for this…you have no idea how much I needed to read it right now. This all has an added dimension when it’s your kids that are suffering and you just want to find answers and fix it. Most of the time, I do fairly well in the God dependence department. Once in a while though, I lose that focus a bit and it’s been that kind of day for me. Parker is feeling so crummy…his face is so red, he’s got a barking cough and sounds like a dog, his excema is flared and it’s just hard to see that and know that there is a problem, but what?
    In any case, this was encouraging to me and a great reminder. Praying for you as you wrestle with similar problems.

  2. Sarah Bosse said,

    Kelly, thank you for commenting. I’m glad this was helpful. I’ll be praying for you and yours as well.

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