If you’re a Christian reading this, maybe you already know a quite famous person from the Bible: King Hezekiah. Without thinking too much, I can easily remember a lot of sermons about his outstanding character, who fearlessly reigned in a time, when it was common to burn your own child upon an altar. It is hard to imagine what kind of firmness one needed to be such a man in such a situation. And then, all of a sudden, the story changed so unexpectedly that I cannot help but wonder why. Why did Hezekiah become sick? Why did he not just live righteously and happily ever after or even until his death?
I think God cares more about a man’s character, than about his reputation.
A few years ago some friends invited me on the Sabbath to go out and do some mission work like praying with people, giving books away and all the good stuff. I still remember the feeling when I came home. This pure joy. The awe of recognizing God's presence. I wrote down that evening that I felt for the first time in my life, what I wanted to do with the rest of it. And I am sitting here, years later and can still feel that joy.
From that moment on, I wanted more of that. At that time our local Care Group was ready for taking new steps after years of studying and growing together. Over a timespan of 18 months the little flame became a fire that kindled our hearts to reach out to people. We organized weekly Bible classes, an evangelism which was held apostle-like in the living room, we invited speakers, went out on the streets and took even great leaps of faith when we organized a Health Camp meeting without any funds and two speaker families from overseas.
I personally turned down a study place for a masters in journalism after one year waiting for it to join a Bible school in England. Everybody who saw me at that time, saw a passionate Adventist, who was, to be honest, slightly crazy. And I can tell you with all honesty that I loved that time. Everything seemed to fall into place.
A few weeks before I wanted to head off to England, I was invited to Portugal which seemed a good opportunity to me since these friends were interested in Adventism. Who would say no to a mission spot on the beach? I definitely wouldn’t. But then one night I dreamed of receiving a message which told me to open the Bible and read Revelation 3:16.
“..You, Sofia, are lukewarm. I counsel thee, to buy from me gold tried in fire….”
I was off to go to a mission school. This verse was surely meant for everybody but me. I tried to forget it even though looking back, this was a clear warning. I just did not know what to change since I was finally on the one and only path of truth, right? Slowly, but surely from this point on my life spinned so much out of control that still now it's hard to write it down.
I went to an Adventist Detox to learn more about Health Evangelism, only to come back confused and not aware that some of the treatments triggered the outbreak of an autoimmune disorder, which I had a genetic predisposition for (who would ever know that…). Shortly after, I left my apartment packed for the mission school, wondering why I felt so weak and anxious all the time. But not only my body was feeling weird.
From the very first day of the Bible School my once so beloved red Bible seemed locked to me. I was of course able to get the information and keep up with the discussions but somehow the One behind the words felt a thousand miles away. I spent one evening of the first week in the park, crying for two hours straight out of fear that I could go back to the point of thinking that I am abandoned by God.
Outwardly, I tried. Honestly, I did. But inside was a whole other story. Together with my very personal spiritual storm, undeniably physical symptoms occurred that I never experienced before. A lot of pain and sleepless nights, to keep it short. A lot of days I was sitting in class while dreaming of lying in bed and having a huge package of ice cubes around my neck to kill the pain. Not very efficient. But since I had three jobs at that time besides the mission school and a planned health congress, I felt I had no other choice than to just keep going. In the end, everybody was talking of a God, who gives strength, right?
Well… He truly does.
It was at the last day of the Campmeeting that my body quit to cope. I had – without even recognizing it – taken the whole package of painkillers from my roommate at that event. As a leader of a Health Campmeeting: You are allowed to smile here, dear reader.
I decided to see a doctor since I was in Germany anyway, but it was not a proper diagnosis, and after I flew back to England. Our outreach campaign was about to start and I did not intend to miss out. But I was just not able. Looking back this was just the perfect illustration of Laodicea: I was very, very sick, both spiritually and physical. But I was just blind to that. One question that is written all over my journal from that time is: God, where are you? And yet, I wanted to go out and tell others about someone I was missing myself.
One week later I had to fly back to Germany again to see a doctor, not knowing that I would never return to my class. The first thing I had to do when I came home, was holding the hand of a beloved family member, when he took his last breath. I never had an encounter with death before and it shattered me.
Shortly after, my symptoms went so bad that I had to see an oncologist who was worried I had Leukemia. I had to go weekly there for months to get my blood checked, only to have surgery at the exact same date that my classmates from the Bible school celebrated their graduation. Meanwhile, I was not really able to keep up with my work anymore and since I am self-employed, my financial security vanished.
And then, after all these months of pain and questioning I learned that I did not have cancer but that my symptoms are caused by an autoimmune disease I got, when I went to an Adventist Detox, where I wanted to learn how to work for God.
I wish I could write down here that I was still faithful and cheerful. I was not. I was furious. Doubtful. Bitter. I started to distrust everybody, first and foremost God. I did not see any sense in my life anymore and just the fear of losing eternal life kept my feet from giving up on God. But fear is never to be trusted. One evening, my apartment was a mess, pain had been there since waking up and I just did not know how to stop it, I begged God to help me. Nothing changed, and I told him that I want to give up on Him as He has given up on me. I stood up from the ground, went to bed and just before turning out the light, I saw a small letter. I opened it.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.”
I am crying writing this down, even now. That was, dear reader, everything I needed. Hell is not hell anymore, if you know, God is there. I would take the whole road again just to have that moment in my life. When I was my absolute worst, God personally told me that He loves me the absolute most. When my life turned upside down, I lost it all. I was confronted with what is really in my heart. I am not going to write that down here, because there is something called grace.
Slowly but surely, I came back to life both spiritually and physically. But for a long time, there was a question back in my mind: God, why? Why did all of this happen?
Do you remember king Hezekiah from the beginning of this post? In 2 Chronicles 28:31 God offers a small insight into the why of Hezekiah’s downfall. He wanted to let him see the truth about his heart. God did not only care about the huge reforms and testimonies of faith, he cared about the heart of his faithful servant more than about his story.
Maybe He could have used me to carry out big plans and insane projects, but instead He chose to save me. May you know, dear reader, that your heart matters to the One who made it far more than even his own plans.
About the Author
Hello Human. My name is Sofia! Besides gluten-free chocolate cakes, sunshine and donkeys, I love spending time in nature with a Bible. You are welcome to join me (virtually).