World IBD Day is observed each year on May 19 in order to raise awareness for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and to show support for the millions of people worldwide (including the 1.6 million Americans) that suffer daily with these these diseases.
I know firsthand the seriousness and severity of inflammatory bowel disease. Not only have I lost a first cousin to colon cancer after he suffered from Crohn’s Disease for years and years, but I too was diagnosed with both Ulcerative Colitis in 2006 and just a couple of years later, with Crohn’s Disease. I suffered severe complications, multiple hospitalizations, was found to have a colon stricture that left an opening in my colon only the size of a dime, and at just 32 years old I was thought to have colon cancer for months. On February 6, 2009, I was ultimately told that my colon was so diseased it would need to be removed in its entirety and (not to be graphic) possibly my rectum as well.
This news drove me back to my faith in God and trust me when I tell you that though I did not deserve it, God, in his tender mercy, great grace and overwhelming love, came right there into my circumstances. I was so scared, had no idea how I would move forward and was desperate for hope. The night I received this news, I was unable to sleep and I remember crying out to the Lord in the living room of my tiny condo at the time, holding on to a hope that thankfully I knew from childhood which is this: God IS a healer.
The Lord encountered me that night with this scripture:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name,
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you will not be burned,
and the flame will not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
and because you are precious
in my eyes and honored
and I love you.”
I decided to put my life, before anything else, in the hands of the One who made me and let Him direct me in the way I should go. The result? I can tell you that He means what He says and is faithful to every word He speaks. I can tell you that He is so acquainted with every detail of our lives and He cares so much about not just the challenges we face, but He cares even more about us! He loves US! And what I can also tell you with certainty is that nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is impossible with Him.
My journey wasn’t without challenges over the years following but even more than challenges, there were even more miracles and this was a journey that would ultimately change my life in every single way. I have shared pieces of my journey here and there on social media and on both my personal and health coaching websites, so I won’t go into the details here tonight, but I will say this:
My health has completely turned around! I am here today when doctors said I may not be, I have my colon, I now have two children which I never thought possible, and I have not been on prescription medication for over 5 years which I was told would never, ever happen! I am a sign and a wonder… and as wonderful as all of that is, it is only the beginning of what God has done in my life.
What I pray is that my story, that my very life, would offer hope to anyone who is reading. Whether you are living with a chronic disease, whether you have an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, or whether you are going through anything at all perhaps totally unrelated to your health, I pray that my testimony and experiences will encourage you, inspire you and bring you hope in your own set of circumstances.
So in light of World IBD Day, this is what I want to leave you with tonight:
The Lord is so close and so near, and no matter what, there is always, always hope in Jesus.