When I started writing fiction six years ago I burned with the fire of long pent-up creativity. Words flowed. I made short work of framing five stories into complete manuscripts. Then I turned to the editing and revising.

I could write for hours without moving a muscle. I forgot to eat. I couldn’t sleep. The creative high propelled me. It woke me in the night. I often rose long before dawn because dialogues and ideas and solutions came to me as I slept. A constant buzz!

As I penned my stories, God was very present. He propelled me through the writing, inspired me, solved puzzles, answered prayers, and drew me closer to him than I’d ever been. I knew I needed him. Using the gifts he had given had to be carried out in his strength and with his help. My faith grew.

This is what God made me to do!

I envisioned my final decades spent in a long career of writing and publishing and telling people about Jesus through the powerful tool of fiction. Now I am happy if I can complete a good solid couple of hours of writing.

I didn’t expect an autoimmune disorder to knock me flat.

This wasn’t the dream.

Why did this happen? Why did God allow it? I’m trying to understand. In the midst of this suffering, Christ has his arms about me.

“He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. ‘O my God,’ I say, ‘take me not away in the midst of my days—you whose years endure throughout all generations'” (Psalm 102:23-24 ESV).

This heartrending plea is how I feel. I cry aloud.

But who is speaking in this psalm? The response to this plea is recorded in Psalm 102:25-28 and Hebrews 1:10-12. The answer comes from God the Father, responding to the plea of his Son.

Like Psalm 22, this is a very personal cry, the prophetic words of The Suffering Servant. This is how Jesus felt as he faced death, the writer of Hebrews suggests by quoting it.

This is the beautiful truth. Jesus knows exactly how I feel as I struggle through the temptation and test of this human weakness, this sickness, this trial, this physical destruction. He knows how you feel, too.

As he wept in Gethsemane, as he wrestled with God’s will and sweat blood, he fought the human desire to live and to thrive. We don’t want to be sick. We don’t want to die.

Don’t break my strength in midcourse, not when I’m still so young. Not when there are decades left to serve you. Not when I have so much I want to do for your glory. Jesus is with me right in the middle of this questioning and hurting, this fear and this letting go.

We don’t have a high priest who cannot sympathize. We have one who is able to relate to our human foibles and fears and temptations. He has been tempted in all things, just as we. But he did it without sin.

He was cut down in mid-course, submitting himself to death for us. When our despair drags us toward the black, we can cry to him. He always provides mercy and grace to help in time of need.

Even if we never understand the whys.
Even if it’s not what we would have chosen.
Even if it’s a tragedy from a human perspective.

He never abandons or forsakes us. Rather, he rushes to give aid in our crying. He takes hold of us and clutches us near. “Because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18)

Grab hold of him, my soul. He is with me. He is with you.