Any person living with a chronic illness has asked this question…
Why have you allowed all of this pain and suffering in my life?
I’ve asked the Lord that question before. Many times in fact. In my limited understanding and lack of spiritual maturity it made absolutely no sense to me as to why the Lord would allow such debilitating disease to run through my body. All I wanted to do was serve Him, but in my physical weaknesses that pursuit seemed impossible.
And yes, I had the audacity and arrogance to question His plan and His workings in my life. Sound familiar?
Who am I to question God?
So you’ve lost your life like you once knew it and living with limitations is downright exhausting, daunting, frustrating, overwhelming and depressing. But let me show you a different perspective on your life; a perspective to shed some spiritual light on your situation. I’m going to lay a foundation for you so your spiritual well-being will flourish in spite of your failing and diminishing health.
I call this, Death and Disease 101.
Once we come into this world our bodies naturally start to die. And back in the Garden when sin entered into this world, disease entered in as well. Every human being will experience some form of a disease whether it’s just a simple head cold or something much more serious like cancer at some point in their lives. And of course, all of us will die.
But let’s go deeper and deal with the chronic stuff; the stuff that we say keep us from living our lives. In all honesty, if we study the Scriptures we’ll see that God is working on our behalf, yet it’s the enemy who tells us our lives are either worthless or over.
For the Works of God to be revealed in You
I love this passage. It ministers to my soul to know that what I’m suffering through will be used to reveal God to others. Hmmm, sounds like I’m being used by God in spite of my illnesses. 🙂
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
To Keep You from Becoming Proud
Now this passage I don’t like so much, because, well…I have a thorn in my flesh and I have it because of my pride. Not all those who have a chronic illness have a thorn in their flesh so please don’t read into that. However, do let the Holy Spirit move in your heart as read this passage so you can find out for yourself. 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, 12:1-10
So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Cor. 12:7-9 NLT
There’s a deep spiritual beauty in those verses. If you happen to have a thorn in your flesh then take heart in knowing that Christ is working through you in spite of your circumstances.
To Sift You as Wheat
Many times our faith becomes so weak when we walk through the land of ill-health. It’s a natural response because it’s part of our humanity. And because of this, it’s common for depression and despair to accompany us on this journey. This now compounds our trial from being just a physical one to now being a mental and emotional as well. Yet again, God is always working on our behalf. But because we live in the temporary world often times we’re unable to see what’s taking place in the spiritual realm…
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Luke 22:31,32
Don’t lose heart during your physical sufferings, (I know this is not easy to hear!) but as you endure the cross that is set before you continue to keep your eyes on the Lord. He’s with you and He’s interceding on your behalf so that your faith should not fail. And the purpose behind your pain is so when you’ve gone through the deep waters you’ll be able to strengthen your brethren. Your experiences will minister to others which will ultimately bring glory to God. Again, you’re being used by God in your weakened state. It’s an odd concept, isn’t it?
So You Can Comfort Others
The book of Job is the book of comfort for every Believer. I think everyone can relate to Job’s life in one way or another. There are some phenomenal lessons to learn from Job, more specifically how not to live a life of entitlement.
And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. Job 1:21,22
Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:1-6
It is within our arrogance and self-entitlement that we say God does not know what He is doing with our lives. We know He can heal us but instead of accepting our limitations we covet our old selves. This path can so easily turn it into a form of idolatry.
My ‘old normal’ self would say…
I’m an overachiever who shoots for perfection.
I’m terrified of failure.
I don’t care to be humble.
And the last thing I’d ever want to do is rely on someone else to care for my basic needs.
But I live in a body where chronic illnesses don’t leave.
Everyday is a day where I just get by.
Everyday I feel like a failure.
Everyday my illnesses chip away more of my pride.
And everyday I’m too weak to do life by myself.
It’s easy to live in a state of despair, but we worship a God who gives us hope.
So find the beauty amongst the ashes. That’s how I’ve come to view chronic illnesses (at least most days!) 🙂
My new normal says…
It’s good to be God-reliant rather than self-reliant.
A humble spirit is much more attractive on a person than a prideful one. I personally would rather spend my days with a humble person than a prideful one any day of the week.
And a humble spirit emulates our Savior which in turn will draw others closer to Jesus Christ.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
There’s a purpose for our pain. Our perishing bodies are being used for His glory. And that, my friend, is the type of ‘new normal’ that I want my life to represent. It’s a life that is being poured out for Jesus Christ.
Regardless of the quality of life that we have or don’t have, it is our Maker who gives us life and sustains us. It is our responsibility to make the most of our lives seeking to lift Him up for all to see.
Perhaps you’re the supportive spouse in this situation? Well, you get to be the hands and feet of Jesus to your hurting spouse. You’re the Good Samaritan Wife. You’re the one who brings us physical comfort. You’re the one who offers us our basic necessities. You’re the one who’s not in physical pain and therefore you’re not dealing with the mental anguish that accompanies the unrelenting pain we’re dealing with. When we can’t see straight, you’re the one who has the honor and privilege to bring our requests before the Great Throne of God. We can’t get through this without you. You’re needed and so is your ministry to us.
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thes. 3:13
Now what can you add? Can you see God working in your situation? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments!
Next up in this series I’ll discuss practical tips to living with limitations.
If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can read it here:
Live a poured out life for Christ,
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