Choosing Joy Amid Health Issues

Choosing JoyWhen we are young we often see ourselves as invincible, but sometimes our health can become an every present struggle. At 31, happily married with two little girls, aged four and two, life was good. We celebrated no more diapers with a weekend camping trip to the Keys with friends. While others went out on the boat I watched our children in a wooded play area. That evening I noticed that my legs were covered with bites. The following Monday I developed flu like symptoms, followed by a strange pain in my foot. X-rays showed arthritic changes in my toes. The arthritis quickly spread to every joint in my body. A strange rash developed that would appear at 4 p.m. every day and be gone by morning. Nights were spent excessively sweating and spiking very high fevers. My hands were painful and swollen, and I had to lift our daughters with my forearms. Doctors were perplexed, and my life became a prison sentence of constant doctor and laboratory appointments. Despite one positive test for Lyme disease, four more tests were negative. Finally a diagnosis of Still’s Disease, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis of adult onset, was given. That Christmas I received a wheelchair with a red bow on it. Not being able to bear weight on my legs was terrifying. I felt as if my whole body was out of control – a petrifying emotion.

The daily struggle
During this time we had been part of a small church that had disbanded. It was a desert experience. With family 5,000 miles away in England and a husband who had to work to pay the bills, each day became a tremendous struggle. I felt as if I had hit rock bottom when my four year old cut herself trying to fix bagels, yet God had not abandoned us. That afternoon sitting in the wheelchair I felt as if the Lord poured a jug of joy over me. If I had ever doubted God’s existence, I knew at that moment that He was absolutely real and present. That was a turning point for me. Doctors put me on extremely high doses of steroids that got me walking and, although life still felt like a roller coaster, I had totally surrendered control of my life to the Lord.

My days became consumed with waiting in doctor’s offices. We were now part of a new church, but it was huge and, although I sought help, I fell through the cracks. The side effects of the medication were harsh. I had a moonface from the steroids and was an emotional wreck. The medication also gave me osteoporosis. The anti-inflammatories ripped through my stomach sending me to the emergency room. Seeking alternative methods, I visited a nutritionist. He put me on a 5-day vegetable juice fast, my first ever. On the third day of the fast, I climbed onto my exercise bike. My Bible was open and where my girls had been playing had been flipped to Isaiah 58. I had been a Christian for over 25 years but never seen this chapter on fasting before. The following week at Bible study a lady I had never met pulled me aside and said she felt God was telling her to show me Isaiah 58. I knew that somehow God was using fasting as part of my healing.
As Christians we have to learn to walk by faith, knowing that we will not always have our questions answered here one earth. I don’t understand why it took 16 years before I finally got my Lyme disease diagnosis. It was finally discovered at Progressive Medical in Atlanta, where natural and medical doctors work together in a beautiful symphony that heals many “incurables.” However, it was not until a book jumped off the shelf at me in a New York bookstore that I discovered the final solution. Dr Joel Fuhrman’s book, Fasting and Eating for Health, showed me the power of water fasting. While my husband led a mission trip to England, I was able to fast on water for 10 days.

At the same time, a friend gave me an article where one line stated, “There was a man who cured his Lyme disease by taking seven cloves of garlic for seven days.” Intrigued, I put it to one side. The next day in my devotions God reminded me that Naaman dipped seven times in the Jordan, and that next Wednesday at church, Sy Rogers spoke about the number seven being God’s perfect number. I was ready; I diced and swallowed seven cloves of garlic for seven days while eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. At that time I was taking injections that cost $1,500 a month every two weeks. After two weeks, I realized I did not need the shot. After three months I visited my rheumatologist who was amazed, called me “weird” but said that something had definitely worked. Seven years later, I am still free of medications and have not needed to see the doctor once. I am so thankful that I didn’t continue on the conventional route. I am thankful for the gift of knowledge that doctors have, but for me, the medications caused as much harm as the disease. In the months to come, I will be sharing other interesting ways to naturally and inexpensively improve our health. Knowing we have choices that bring us some control over our bodies is very freeing.

Andrea Goff hosts a Bible study for people with ongoing medical issues, pain, anxiety or depression called Choosing Joy, which meets on the second and fourth Thursdays at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale from 7-9 p.m. For information contact [email protected].

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