This past week has been a time of hardship for me and at several points I wondered how long the trial would continue. Just over a week ago I started coming down with yet another cold. A deep cough quickly settled into my chest and then, not one night, but seven nights of terrible sleep followed.
Pregnancy isn’t known as a time of great sleep, (in fact I’ve heard it suggested as a time to get used to lack of sleep before the baby arrives.) But never in all of my pregnancies have I faced a period of such sleep deprivation. Back and hip pain made it difficult to get to sleep and I rarely slept for more than 45 minutes at a time. One night I felt near to panicking. It was early morning and I had only slept for two 45 minute stretches. I finally fell asleep sitting on the couch, and was relieved to get another hour of sleep before facing the day.
Lack of sleep was making it impossible for my body to recover from the cold and the cough was becoming very painful. I also felt on the verge of hallucinating one day due to the sleep deprivation. I was absolutely dangerous in the grocery store, nearly running people down and walking into things. I was so easily startled that I nearly screamed every time anyone walked past me! The scary thing was is that I didn’t even feel tired anymore and going to bed and trying to sleep was becoming frightening.
I try to avoid medication of any kind during pregnancy, but I knew that sleep was most important to my baby and I at this point. I knew that Acetaminophen (Tylenol) was considered the safest pain medication during pregnancy, but it did very little to combat the pain. I researched Ibuprofen (Advil) and found out that it can put the baby at risk for heart abnormalities if taken during the third trimester, so that was obviously out of the question!
I was reminded of the message that I heard last Sunday from the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was facing his own trials as he looked around and saw the violence and injustice around him. He asked God two things, “Why?” and “How long?”
It is comforting to read in the Bible that a prophet asked questions similar to the ones that we are tempted to ask when facing difficulties. The truth is, it’s alright to ask the hard questions of God. God doesn’t want us to grin and pretend that everything is just dandy. We’re not supposed to be fake and there are going to be times where we struggle with why God has allowed us to suffer. Ultimately though, God is on His throne and He may or may not reveal to me why I must face this trial or indeed how long I might have to endure it. What I do know is that: the trial will never be more than I can bear (1 Cor. 10:13), that our struggles have a purpose and that pain is not wasted in our lives (Rom. 8:28), and that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
I have had these words tumbling about in my brain for days now, but I didn’t have the energy to put them into writing, nor the ability to write in a way that would make any sense. Thankfully, I had a good night’s sleep and almost no pain last night, and I think I might also be recovering from the cold. I find myself realizing how very blessed I am. I know there are so many people out there who face chronic pain and disease. Health is not something that I want to take for granted, but I also want to remember that pain and trial also have their place in our lives and that God can teach us lessons through our times of suffering that we might otherwise not have ears to hear.