Friday, July 24, 2015

Lupus (Susan Woodward)
This is the first of three entries by my dear friend, Susan Woodward. Susan was my high school administrator when I moved to Houston and served as editor of the book I authored. She is a world class educator, a terrific writer, and a wonderful sister in Christ. Continued prayers for me in Vietnam, please!

I have Lupus.  That is, I have it along with the more than 16,000 new cases of lupus that are reported annually across the country.  It is believed that five-million people throughout the world have a form of Lupus. So why is it that so few people know what Lupus is?  Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In Lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means the immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and the body’s healthy tissues ("auto" means "self") and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better).*
Lupus has affected my joints, lungs and kidneys and leaves me feeling fatigued much of the time as well as being prone to catching anything, such as in my case, pneumonia.  I can feel good one day and the next day be in bed with a flare.  It is because of this that I had to end my 29-year career in Education.  That was difficult and still to this day, I feel a void without it and even on occasion, I realize a feeling of hopelessness. So what’s going on when I feel discouraged or hopeless? Probably because when I look to the future — I see nothing that will bring me joy or pleasure. All I see is pain and difficulty.
But there is good news. What does God promise when we feel hopeless?
Here’s what Paul says in Rom 15:13 —
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Paul says God is a God of hope — which means those who trust Christ always have reason to be full of hope. When we turn our hearts to trust Jesus and His promises, we will — in time — abound in hope. I must learn to trust Jesus Christ just as I am.  We can come to Him just as we are — thirsty (John 7:37), heavy-laden and needing rest (Matt 11:28), weak in faith (Mark 9:24).
Also, I try to think about the good things in life.
Come before the Lord in praise. Philippians 4:8 tells us, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."
I try to not think about how bad I feel and not stay discouraged. I try to avoid thinking about the negative. Scripture says to think about things that are lovely and wholesome and of good report. Think on these things. Mine is a faithful God who has delivered me from things before and will deliver me from the pain and discouragement that comes with Lupus. “Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of His excellent greatness; Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful Song!” Every day is a gift to be faced with joy and hope. “Strength and honor give to His holy name! Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children, In His arms He carries them all day long!”^

*Lupus facts, graphic, and education provided by the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc., Washington, D.C., 2015
^”Praise Him! Praise Him!”  Song lyrics (abbreviated) by Francis J. Crosby, pub. 1869

God bless, Steve Luke 18:1 E-mail me at

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