When I think of a daily devotional time, I picture concentrated efforts toward Bible study and prayer. And that’s what I committed myself to for many years. These times drew me near to God and made me aware of his presence and power in my life. After illness, however, my ability to have a lengthy and concentrated devotional time diminished due to declining energy, mental focus, and ability to handle stress—even the slight stress which comes with basic daily duties.
This lack of extended spiritual intake made me feel far from God and like he wasn’t as active in my life as before. I wrestled with feelings that he wasn’t pleased with me anymore and that I was a disappointment to him. I certainly felt disappointed with myself. To be honest, I still struggle with these feelings, but I am fighting to renew my thinking about what nearness to God looks like and what pleases him, especially for someone dealing with chronic health issues.
“It is even more crucial to have realistic, truth-based expectations for our lives. What does God say my normal life is supposed to look like?…If our expectations are not based on biblical truth, when things change we will be like my students with a poor substitute teacher. We will freak. We will get angry and frustrated. We will resist fervently all that goes against our expectations. We will find ourselves living in a sea of persistent, discouraging confusion. This is why our expectations in life must be based on the Bible. They must have a solid gospel-centered focus.” (Michael Robble in Always Sick, Always Loved; page 73)
Did you wake up this morning to another day of living an unexpected life? I did.
So many things that have happened to us in the last six years I would not have pictured for myself or my family. We all have expectations of how life should go, with big plans for the future, and a vision of what we’d like to accomplish. And there’s nothing wrong with having a vision or a plan. But as someone once said, “Make your plans, but carry a big eraser.”
Inspiration and nuggets of wisdom from a marriage and family living with chronic health issues.
I would never claim to fully understand the chronic illness experience. But after living six years with a chronically ill husband, I can’t help but see some parallels between long-term sickness and natural childbirth.
When I was pregnant with our son, I attended extensive birthing classes, learned relaxation techniques, and even had regular chiropractic adjustments so I would be well-aligned for the smoothest possible delivery. When the big day came, these measures helped me to cope well up to a certain point—even while laboring in rush hour traffic through downtown! But as it became more physically intense, everything I learned just flew out the window. I was in agony and nothing helped. Our sweet Lincoln made his entrance into the world just by sheer grit and the grace of God!
Every day, indeed every hour, with chronic illness and pain is a fight. It’s a personal challenge to keep putting one foot in front of the other, although you see no progress or improvement. Be a fighter…rise to the challenge. Don’t give up!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” -Hebrews 12:1
Becoming a new and better you is one of the greatest gifts chronic illness and pain have to offer.
Continually dealing with illness can be discouraging and exhausting. You may be regularly putting out fires while jumping from one crisis to another, or simply enduring persistent pain—which offers its own brand of wear-out. We all know the chronic illness journey is a marathon, not a sprint. So how can we keep ourselves going for the long-haul?
Whether you are the one who is ill or the caretaker, here are some ideas:
In a culture that bases a person’s value on performance, beauty, money, and societal contributions, it’s easy to feel like your significance is always in question. When all is going well, your rating is high. But what if you’re struggling to keep up? When you feel held back by illness or devalued by what you’re not able to do, be, or accomplish, what meaning does your life have then?
Well I’ve got news for you today, Friend. You matter. Not because of your peak performance, natural beauty, or money in the bank. You matter because You are made in God’s image. After creating the galaxies, stars, planets, plants and animals, He said it was all good. But upon creating the first human beings, He declared them very good.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Have you ever wondered how God might take your illness with its setbacks and limitations and do something good with it? I sure have. Glimpses into that good encourage us that a much bigger and better picture is in the making—we just can’t see the fruit of it yet. I had a very personal glimpse a couple of weeks ago that I’d like to share with you.
I started the morning reading in the Gospel of John, the part where Jesus challenges His disciples to see and meet the spiritual needs around them: “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35).
Chronic illness and its limitations are fertile soil for the weeds of comparison. Let’s uproot those weeds this week!