It’s been a long 3 years as I’ve battled to prove my case to receive Social Security Disability Benefits. I felt like I was constantly under scrutiny and always needing to prove my integrity; the red tape and bureaucracy was endless. The injustice I felt was maddening and the process seemed to never end.
But that all changed this morning. The Holy Spirit has once again lifted the veil from my eyes and freed me to see things differently. What follows is the story.
This past December I had what was supposed to be the final step in the SSD Benefits process – my requested hearing before a judge. Nothing went as planned. The judge needed an additional opinion, so after only 5 minutes I left with my story being unheard and a non-decision outcome. I was devastated, crushed, and totally broken (and this was only 3 weeks after Skylar died – talk about heart-wrenching 3 weeks!). In mid-January I received notice that the judge had his additional opinion and was ready to rule on my case. But, because he was adding evidence to my file, it meant I could appeal to have a supplemental hearing. Last week I learned that I was granted that hearing, but not until June – 6 months from now. The sinking despair of this never-ending process set in again. Every part of me was done fighting, but could I really give up now? Would I regret not seeing it to the end, knowing that it was me that ended the process, not a judge’s ruling? Think about the financial assistance that we so desperately need!
As I have spent much time with the Lord on this issue over the last 3 years, He knew I was defeated emotionally and had nothing left to give. Because I had poured my heart out many times, it was no less meaningful when I could only muster prayers like, “Do I really need to keep going?” Or, “If You want me to finish this, then I’m really going to need a perspective change!” I was so broken by the SSD process that I had to give even a passing thought about it to the Lord, no additional prayers possible.
That’s why this morning’s revelation was so powerful for me.
As I was trying to get reassurance from my mom yesterday I said, “This program (meaning the SSD Benefits) exists for people like me.” My mom, in her always calm voice of reason quickly reminded me that there are people who are obviously disabled that need benefits, like someone who was in a life-changing car accident and can no longer work. “Oh yeah,” I immediately agreed, “those people definitely deserve this assistance.” It was the first time I had even momentarily accepted that my case was gray, rather than black and white.
That’s what the Holy Spirit expanded on this morning – just how hung-up I was on defending my own integrity. Of course I’m not making this up, so obviously I deserve these benefits too! I was reading in Ecclesiastes when this verse caught my attention:
“Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy.”
-Ecclesiastes 5:8, NLT
“Matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy.” Somehow this unlocked the puzzle for me and I felt that I could stop fighting this endless battle.
But the Lord took it further, “Why do you deserve SSD Benefits? You are able to work. And, I have provided for you.” He wasn’t finished: “You wonder why the judge was so impatient with you and seemed totally uninterested in your case? Because you aren’t disabled. You’re clearly working – even if it is only a few hours a day – you’re still able to find purpose. The judge doesn’t pity you because you don’t deserve pity. In fact, the judge may even see you as wasting his time because you feel entitled to benefits when he sees many people who are far worse off than you.”
Yet, despite the strong conviction, I actually felt free. The Holy Spirit had just guided me through another powerful session of forgiveness by allowing me to see other truths and other perspectives. And now I’m free! Free of the hurt and anger the SSD process hung around my neck. Free of the endless paperwork, appointments, and hassle to prove that I’m not faking it. Free from feeling persecuted by an unjust system. And, perhaps just as important, free to forgive the way the judge (and therefore the system) treated me – I’m actually the one who should seek forgiveness!
This burden is no longer hanging on my neck. I can walk away knowing that the Lord has freed me from pursuing this case, which means He will also provide – just as he has for the past 3 years.
Ecclesiastes 5 ends with these verses, and so will I:
“Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life – this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (vv. 18-20).”