Written by Morgan Clark
“Are you eating well?”
“What kind of soap are you using?”
“What happened to your face?”
These are all questions I have regularly heard from well-meaning people over the last ten years. My journey began in a dermatologist office at age ten, because I had a scar on my nose; little did I know that this would be the first in a long line of frequent visits. I developed what is called cystic acne, a condition which typically affects teenagers and young adults. Note: this is not your typical acne, but rather large and painful cysts which cover the majority of the face.
Starting at that young age, I was provided with many different “solutions” to this problem — soaps, medications, dietary changes, etc. Each time something did not work, I would simply try something new. However, when I was in Grade 12, the dermatologist told me that my only other option was to take a drug called Accutane. After doing some research I decided that, due to the risks, this was not something I wanted to put into my body. So I decided to wait it out. The dermatologist did say that she believed my acne would be gone by the time I finished my first year of university.
Fast forward to the end of second year and not only was it not gone, but it had gotten a lot worse. I clearly remember having a conversation with my parents about reconsidering Accutane. Again, I was scared of the side-effects and the stories that I had read online, so I told them that I did not want to take it. It was at this point that my dad asked me a question that I will never forget.
He asked me, “Can you trust God to protect your body while you are on this medication?” That night this question rattled me, and I became defensive and upset. I wondered why God would not just heal me, why He might want me to take this medication with the potential to harm me. In the next few months I would pray for healing — that one morning I would wake up and it would be gone — but that did not happen.
By the end of the semester, things took a turn for the worse, to the point that I could hardly get a spoon of cereal into my mouth due to the pain, I did not want to leave my room, see my friends, or even go to church. I started to reconsider what my dad had said, and I began to wonder if maybe he was right — maybe this was something I could trust God with. I knew that I did not have any other options and that I could not go on like that, so I decided to take a leap of faith and try Accutane.
I remember that first night, looking at the little yellow pill in my hand. I prayed desperately for protection, prayed that it would work, prayed for a miracle. Over the course of the next few months, I did experience side-effects from the medication, but only minor ones. I would get my blood-work done each month and every time the dermatologist would look at the results, he would say, “They’re perfect.” Each time I heard that, I knew that God was protecting me.
However, as I neared the end of my time on Accutane, I began to fear that once I stopped taking the medication the cysts would come back. And what if they did? I had no other options. Each time that fear crept in, I was reminded that I could trust God and that I had an army of people praying for me at home. I knew God was faithful, and I knew that whatever happened He would still be with me.
Just a few months ago, I finished my last dose of Accutane. Other than some scars, you would never know I struggled with cystic acne. Do I still wonder why I ever had to have cystic acne? Absolutely. But I also see it taught me about myself, my identity in Christ, and the character of God. I learned beauty is not about the outward appearance, but that it is about your heart. I learned to trust God in new ways, that God will not let me down, and that He works in mysterious ways.
When I think about this time, I am reminded of my dad’s favourite Proverb, which says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). There are so many things I will never understand, but I now know I can trust in the Lord to do the miraculous. Whatever situation you might be in, know that you too can trust God to do what might seem impossible, and to use it to bring Himself glory.