In a time of instant messaging, Instagram, and instant food from our microwaves we can begin to lose hope when prayers aren’t answered instantly.
Our friend and missionary colleague, Crystal Lodica, shares with us her story of holding onto the hope of God’s timing and faithfulness even when prayers and answers seem faraway.
Thank you, Crystal, for sharing with us.
When I was 8 years old my mother and father were given two options to save my life. They had to decide quickly.
I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. This is an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones. These hormones are vital for overall health and body function but if these hormones are overproduced and left untreated, it can lead to death. With this diagnosis, my parents were faced with two options.
Option 1- Risky invasive surgery that could leave me unable to speak again.
Option 2- Radioactive iodine treatment that would destroy the thyroid, leaving me on hormone replacement therapy for the rest of my life.
After a brief 24-hours of pondering the right move, they decided the radioactive treatment was the best option. Knowing I loved to sing and being a talkative kid with a lot to say; they couldn't risk the chance of losing my voice forever.
As a young child, I didn't understand the long-term effects of undergoing radioactive treatment.
Fast forward to present-day, I am a 33-year-old woman who has recently received the news that my body has already gone through the stages of menopause, and I have Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). To my surprise, a decision saving my life 25-years ago now impacts me today.
No one warned my parents that the radioactive treatment saving my life would cause reproduction damage and leave me with the inability to have biological children. I was devasted. I felt my worth as a woman was gone. My dreams of becoming a mother and carrying my own children were gone.
I knew God had a plan --- He always does. In the moment we may not see it, yet we must continue to believe in faith. I knew I had to surrender and release my life into His hands, He had bigger plans for my life. It all started to make sense when He called me to be His servant and missionary. He called and I answered.
I left my corporate job in Manhattan, moved out of my cozy Brooklyn apartment, broke off my 5-year relationship and started on a new journey. This new journey wasn’t easy, I found myself living at home again with my parents, in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. I knew I was there for a reason and had to make the best of it.
I also knew I needed a way to make money and support myself. The Lord prompted me to create a profile on a popular nannying site. The flexibility of a being nanny while raising funds for missions was the right balance. That simple act of obedience led me to work with a family for three years. In the summer of 2018, the family welcomed a new fiery red haired baby girl into the world. Little did I know God was going to work through this little one to touch my life.
As I started caring for this young one, my health issues took a turn for the worse. The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong hormonally, and my hypothyroid symptoms became unbearable. It became difficult to do daily activities such as getting out of bed and everyday living. Though I was weak, and my body was working against me, God was still working.
How amazing is our God? Amid our suffering, He is our living Hope.
The baby I was caring for needed a medical procedure. This required a lot of monitoring during recovery to protect her from infection. She laid on my chest for hours. I listened to her heartbeat while she slept. I prayed and held her as if she were my own. Over time I watched this once fragile child quickly become this fearless little human. Her strength was restored, and the light inside her turned on. As I prayed and watched her get better, God was also healing me and showing me how hope exists even in tough situations and how to trust in Him.
Through my time with this precious child and my journey to the mission field I’ve learned to trust God. I’ve been to many countries sharing the word of God. It hasn’t been an easy journey but He has been faithful.
For the last 8 months, I have been in Costa Rica attending language school. I have been working with doctors to find answers to the decline in my health. Fallen hair from my head has covered the bathroom floor, autoimmune flareups have pulsed through my body, and my physical strength again has become limited. I went from running seven miles a day to using what little energy I could muster to sit in class. It became a struggle to learn a new language as brain fog weighed down my concentration. Many nights went by as I begged the Lord to reveal an answer. In desperation, I cried out for His healing touch. It was exhausting, and depression slowly took over. The fear of losing mobility and the life I enjoyed became a heavy burden. My hope was slipping away.
After my most recent doctor’s consultation and news of being post-menopausal and unable to have children, I needed some hope.
How am I feeling now? Well, I’m both grieving and holding onto hope. God makes room for my human emotion, and I know His goodness goes past it. The Lord has proven before that when He gives a promise, it will come to pass. His promise says my healing is on its way.
God has shown his faithfulness repeatedly. I am incredibly grateful for the community the Lord has placed in my life for this season. People who were with me at the hospital, friends who covered me in prayer and offered to help in any way they could. There’s reassurance in knowing I am not alone. Not only does Jesus continue to be my hope while living with an autoimmune disease, He is also the One who has graced me with contentment in the unknown. The future may look completely different than I have imagined, but the testimony coming from these times will be for His glory.
The words of our sovereign, faithful Lord never fall void when He gives a promise. As these days pass, Jesus walks with me through grief, and encourages me to hold unto Him.
Be encouraged that the enemy will try to steal the vision you once saw for a future, but that doesn't influence what GOD has and is creating for your purpose. Whatever you saw as lost can be replaced by hope. So, hold on to it, sister!