God’s Timeline

This post is not an appeal for pity. It is a reminder that God does work, but oftentimes His schedule and methods are not what I would have ordered. Nevertheless, he is good, and I want him to get the glory for what I am sharing today. This morning was the first time I woke up and was startled to discover that there wasn’t a single part of my body that I needed to scratch. My skin had so improved that I could hardly believe it. This is a big deal, and if you have watched my constant scratching and flaking for the last three years, you understand the amazing gift God has given me.

The Struggle

To say “I have had a skin problem for several years” is an understatement. Over time it got progressively worse. In December 2017, after returning from a wedding in New York, I realized that my skin had gone from bad to frightening. The itching, redness, and widespread dryness over 70-80% of my body was consuming me and driving me nearly crazy. The skin rashes had increased from just a few smaller outbreaks on my arms, legs, and torso to larger areas, especially on my hands, arms, chest, back and my neck. My legs were a mess. I got infections from scratching that required antibiotics.

That began a string of dermatology appointments. I graduated from a physician’s assistant to a full-fledged dermatologist. They tried various prescriptions, ointments, light treatments and even gave me a $4,000 battery of skin tests. That test alone identified thirteen things my skin does not like. They kept telling me, “don’t scratch your skin.” Really? That is much easier said than done.

One year after my first dermatology visit this test was done.

I had a chronic skin condition. “Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual health care costs.” CDC Link

While it is true that itching skin is far less disastrous than heart disease, cancer, Altzheimer’s and diabetes, I can testify that having itching skin is almost like continual torture. Granted, it is low-grade torture, but it becomes overwhelming as it continues and spreads.

There are some awful chronic problems, but these seven miss one killer that is not only chronic, but apart from a cure, will kill ten out of ten adults.

Many were praying for me. I know some were praying frequently. I suspect they were disappointed in God’s lack of a clear answer. After all, God can and does heal many diseases. Jesus touched lepers and they were healed. I heard some of the prayers during gatherings and meetings at church. They were an encouragement. After some time, I concluded that I would accept God’s grace as sufficient in my weakness. The Apostle Paul had appealed for relief, and God did not remove his malady. Rather, he recognized God’s strength was perfected in his personal weakness.

Over time I was given suggestions from various loving family members and friends. Over time I accepted their ideas humbly and gave each idea at least a fair hearing and applied many of the ideas to the care of my skin. Some amazing things started to happen. No, my skin didn’t get better, but I lost about 40 pounds of weight because I stopped eating processed foods, greatly reduced my sugar intake, stopped drinking Coke and other soft drinks, and started eating what my primary care physician had long said I should eat. I also read a book that Cindie recommended and determined that it was very possible that chicken was causing some of the problems. Another friend was having difficulty with nightshades (tomatoes, peppers and white potatoes), so I cut back on these. Sometimes these things seemed to help, but the problems persisted.

I stopped using soap with anything in my list of 13 allergens. I started wearing only cotton clothing. I stopped using shaving cream and anti-perspirants.  I tried using a least a dozen different skin creams, including several that were prescriptions. They didn’t seem to help.

In addition, my dermatologist gave me Prednisone, Methotrexate and Mycophenolate as prescriptions. Each seemed to have some positive impacts, but the problems were not solved.

Another friend gave me a skin cream she creates at home, and it was a blessing, because it helped reduce the overall dryness of my skin and did a much better job of relieving the itchiness. I have been using that new cream for several months and have made multiple batches using the recipe my friend gave me.

Over time, there was slow, but noticeable improvement. I never really expected to have clear or soft skin. But the transformation has been nothing short of amazing. To everyone who has prayed for me and for each suggestion I am grateful.

The skin condition was chronic, but God has given me a great deal of relief.

BUT is an important word I look for in scripture. When all seems lost and all is hopeless and we are helpless, the but’s in scripture scream some amazing contrasts. Let me urge you to recognize that your sin is chronic, as is mine, but God. Your destiny because of sin is death, but God. You can learn a lot from the following “but” passages in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:5 Don’t lose hope, continue reading!

“For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Romans 2:13 This is clearly something I cannot achieve. Don’t lose hope, keep reading.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—” Romans 3:21 There appears a glimmer of hope!

“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” Romans 4:2 If Abraham can’t boast, where does that leave you and me?

“No unbelief made him (Abraham) waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,” Romans 4:20 The next passage is just the balm that is needed. There is a balm in Gilead.

 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 The chronic sin has been covered.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” Romans 5:15

“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.” Romans 6:10 Because he lives, I live. The resurrection is a permanent cure. Therefore…

“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” Romans 6:13

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,” Romans 6:17

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” Romans 6:22

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

My chronic skin condition might once again flare up. But the chronic sin condition has been resolved. I praise God for the improvement in my skin, but I praise him even more for the eternal freedom and healing he has offered and I have accepted.