This blog post is not a heartwarming description of Heidi’s romantic qualities (although they are awesome), or a long list of the ways she takes care of me (where would I be without her?), or the simple yet profound fact she is my best friend (she knows everything about me and still loves me). Instead this post is about an aspect of Heidi’s character that most people wouldn’t be aware of.
It’s a quality that’s been developing for many years. It’s a characteristic that’s been formed in a crucible of excruciating pain and affliction. You see, Heidi has suffered from severe migraine headaches for 35 years. She started getting them as a young girl, and to this day, the cause has yet to be found.
Some days are better than others, but on average, Heidi gets between 2 or 3 per week. Migraine headaches are a terrible burden to bear. They come on without warning and often last 24 – 48 hours. The pain, as Heidi vividly describes, is like a sharp knife stabbed into the brain. The pain is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cold sweat, and weakness.
If she is at home, Heidi flees to her bed, waiting for the migraine cycle to pass, and crying out to God for relief. Through the years, Heidi has developed a mental and physical toughness that, in my opinion, places her in the same category as special forces soldiers or professional athletes. In other words, she can endure pain that would cause most of us to dial 911 or rush to the emergency room begging for morphine. (Unfortunately for Heidi, she is allergic to almost all pain killers)
Often a migraine begins when Heidi is at work or in a public setting. I deeply admire how she maintains her composure and cheery attitude, so much so that if you didn’t know her well, she might look like she is in perfect health. But on the inside, she is screaming in pain. During the worst case scenario, she will stay up all night long, vomiting every 20 minutes. I attempt to bring her comfort, but in reality, there isn’t much I can do. I prepare a heating pad, or apply pressure points to various locations on her neck and back, but the relief is limited.
Over the years, Heidi has tried countless medications, supplements, therapies, or “snake-oil remedies.” Well-intentioned people frequently offer advice or suggestions. But after 35 years of pain and suffering, the chances of finding a “cure” seem rather slim. We have cried out to God for healing on endless occasions, but so far there has been no miracle healing. Heidi and I believe God is able to heal, but for reasons we don’t fully understand, He has chosen not to.
Why do I love my wife? I love my wife for many reasons. She is romantic, she takes care of me, she is my best friend – but one characteristic that really stands out is her inner toughness, her grit, and her ability to persevere. In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul writes about his “thorn in the flesh” and how he pleaded with God to take it away. I cannot tell you how many times we have pleaded with God to take away the migraine headaches. But God responded to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
In all honesty, this reality is hard to accept, especially when my wife is desperate for relief – but relief doesn’t come. I can’t help but ask God, “Why don’t you heal her? But we know God is good and always tells the truth. When he says “His grace is sufficient” then we can trust “His grace is sufficient.”
But what exactly is this “all-sufficient grace?” As best I can tell, I think God’s all sufficient grace is this: during each and every migraine, He gives Heidi a supernatural ability to persevere in the midst of tremendous pain and suffering. In other words, I believe the toughness I so admire in my wife isn’t something she conjures up in her own strength. I’m convinced this grit, this perseverance, is a supernatural gift from God. God’s grace to Heidi is the gift of strength, and I thank God for this gift, because without it, all hope would be lost.
Furthermore, Paul goes on to say how he learned to boast about his weaknesses so that Christ’s power would rest on him. With the same desire in my heart, I boast about Heidi’s weakness to you and the whole world so God’s strength and power will continue to rest on her.
My wife knows the source of her strength. She knows that when she is weak, He is strong. She trusts God, even when he decides to let the thorn remain. She is tough as nails. And that is why I love my wife.