I met Anna on our first day of college at UAB. We quickly became close friends, bonding over many things, including our similar upbringings. We both grew up in middle class households with loving families. We were also both blessed to have parents who taught us the Bible and to love the Lord.
After remaining friends for over a year, God finally brought us together. We dated for the next two years, growing closer and developing a deep love for one another that we tried to keep centered around our love for Christ. Everything seemed easy. As it turned out, Anna and I had another thing in common: For most of our lives, hardship had remained a foreign concept to us. Sure, we’d experienced loss, hurt, and disappointment at times, but the blessings in life always seemed to far outweigh any of our struggles.
Just under two years into our relationship, all of that changed.
It was the beginning of my senior year in UAB’s civil engineering program, and I was taking the semester off for a program-related internship. Mid-way through the semester, I developed a headache. The pain came on one day, and then it simply never left. Shortly after the constant headache began, other symptoms started appearing as well. Generalized pain, fatigue, and muscle weakness were joined by flu-like symptoms, nausea and vomiting, and other non-specific problems. Perhaps one of the most difficult things about this new sickness was that, for some reason, many of the symptoms were made significantly worse any time I moved, making just about any activity very difficult.
As soon as the sickness started, I began seeing doctors to try to figure out what was happening and why my body seemed to be failing me. I went from doctor to doctor, seeing specialists in a host of different fields, in search of answers. But no answers were ever given.
To this day, I don’t have any concrete diagnoses for what is going on with my body, but I am still searching.
Life with this sickness has been difficult. Day to day, I’m not able to accomplish nearly as much as I would like, and I live in a constant state of pain and illness. I was able to finish school, but I have not been able to work outside my home since my symptoms began.
However, throughout all of the difficulties, God has continuously shown Himself faithful. He has blessed me in more ways than I can count – so much more than I could ever deserve.
One of His biggest blessings is that of a godly wife. When I first got sick, Anna and I were still only dating, not yet engaged. As soon as it became clear that I was most likely going to be sick for an extended period of time, she could have easily backed out. Instead, Anna chose to stay with me through it all, providing me with a tangible example of God’s grace and love, even though I could never do anything to deserve it. We were married four years ago, and those years have honestly been the best of my life.
Throughout the pain and hardship of disease, Anna and I have also learned more about God’s character than I would have thought possible. My lack of physical strength has forced me to rely on God’s strength on a daily basis. Every single time I am faced with my own weakness, God’s infinite strength becomes that much more apparent. Perhaps the most important truth we have found is that God always gives us exactly what we need, exactly at the time we need it.
Earlier this year, my wife and I faced a new trial that really shook us to the core.
Starting a family has always been a goal for us. We were overjoyed when we found out that we were expecting our first child. As first-time parents-to-be, we put a lot into planning for our new addition, even in the first trimester.
At twelve weeks, we found out that we had miscarried. This revelation came as a complete surprise to us. Just a few weeks earlier, we had already seen the baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound. The grief that followed was very real and very difficult, but God, once again, used the hardship to reveal more of Himself.
Over the next few weeks, God taught us more about relying on Him than we could have ever learned otherwise. He has since provided comfort and a deep-seated peace that would be impossible apart from Him.
It really is amazing to look back and see how God has used our struggles to teach us and draw us closer to Him. He taught us to give Him glory, not only in spite of our circumstances, but also because of our circumstances.
He has provided us with a certainty that He will always be with us, no matter what.
Matt McCain and his wife, Anna, both grew up in Alabama. Matt is originally from Jasper, while Anna is from Arab. UAB brought them to Birmingham, where they met and became fast friends. They got married four years ago and have been attending Brook Hills ever since.