Tag Archives: Faith during illness

Faith During Illness

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My faith in God sustains me through many trials including living with incurable illness and pain. I don’t know how I would have made it through some of the darkest days of my life without God. Having faith in God gives me the hope I needed to push through the pain, disability, and socioeconomic aspects of being sick.

My best friend and I shared Romans 8:18 on t-shirts we had made for each other to bring awareness to Rheumatoid Arthritis, which says Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. (NLT) The hope I cling to in this verse is that one day I will have freedom from this disease, if not in this life, then eternity. I didn’t always understand this. When I was first diagnosed with autoimmune diseases I was angry with God, but you know what? He can handle our anger. I cried out to Him for understanding, healing, and I had to ask Him to forgive me for being bitter about my plight. I had to hold on to my faith and hope that things would be better.

There were days when I felt my faith was tested. I felt that disease was trying to rip me away from God because I felt I had lost so much but it was then that He revealed to me these words from the Apostle, Paul: And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NTL).

Do you have that same hope? When I have walked the floor crying, lain in bed groaning and begging for God to let me die in my sleep so I don’t hurt anymore, or faced yet another daunting diagnosis I know I do not have to despair because my faith tells me this is not permanent. One day, He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. (Rev 21:4 NLT).

I see others who share my illnesses wail and live their lives as if there is no hope through their postings in support rooms on FaceBook and it breaks my heart. There is HOPE! When family, friends, and people in general let you down because they don’t understand …. Jesus understands. He is ever present and He loves us beyond our comprehension. For God loved the world so much that he gave is one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him with not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)

A lot of people ask, “how can a compassionate God allow so much pain and suffering especially in those who love Him?” and the answer is not easy.  God didn’t create man to be robots. He created us with our own feelings and a will. He wants us to choose to love and follow him not to be made to do so. Because of sin in the world bad things happen, but God always works it to good. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)  It took me a long time to realize this. I was even mad at God for a while, but that is okay because he still loved me and helped me work through it. How has God worked my pain and suffering to good? The pain and suffering slowed me down, grabbed my attention, and made me see how much I needed God. My grace is sufficient for your for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8b NLT) God  uses my illness to work in the lives of others. I am growing in his love.

I am reminded of Christian author, Janet Oke, who penned an analogy about one of her characters growing petunias in her yard. She explained that putting a box around the flowers to shield them from the wind, bugs, and anything that may harm them would keep them from growing and blooming. In the same way, God does not shield us from certain things in life so that we can grow. I believe that my illness is a way for me to grow and bloom into the person he intended.

My prayer for you is that if you don’t know about faith and the hope that I’m writing about that you will reach out by picking up a Bible and start reading. No doctor, medication, friend, or family member has helped me more than God in getting through the rigors of daily living with chronic illness and pain. I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NLT)

NLT: New Living Translation of the Holy Bible

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Broke, Broken, Brokenness

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No one ever said that life would be easy. In fact, the Bible reveals followers of Christ face many trials. I know I’ve found this to be true in my Christian life. Chronic illness has been one of the most difficult trails I’ve faced when I have experienced what it is to be broke, broken, and to face brokenness. It is my prayer that you will be blessed by this entry that is biased toward my Christian view point.

What does it mean to be broke? Websters says “broke” is a state of not having any money. I am broke. I’ve never been so depleted financially than I have in all my life than I am now. Being single only compounds the problem as there isn’t another income coming in the home to offset expenses. At the same time I’ve never been more rich in spirit. God has renewed my love for his Word and has given me hope and peace where there was none during the darkest hours of illness. I am absolutely convinced that if it were not for my faith, I would have given up the fight and let illness consume me. There were many days I did not want to live, but my faith got me through and peace and hope were restored to me as I delved in God’s Word and prayed for  His intervention.

Webster’s defines broken as “violently separated into parts, damaged or altered by breaking, having undergone or been subject to fracture, violated by transgression, disrupted by change, made weak or infirm, subdued completely, cut off or disconnected, reduced in rank, disunited by separation”. Are RA patients broken? In some ways yes and in others no. My body may be broken, but my spirit is not! My primary care doctor tells me that I look too well to be a medical train wreck on paper. He means that to be a compliment and not to add the the “you don’t look sick” phrasing we as chronically ill patients hear so much with the implied, so you must not be sick. I hear RA patients say all the time that they feel like a shadow of their former selves and I will admit that I’ve been there, but the wonderful thing about God’s grace, mercy and love is that in my weakness he is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). He is the potter and I am the clay.

I’ve been broken in some character shifting ways that are more pleasing to God. Until I lost my income and my status as a charge nurse at a well known hospital I didn’t know I carried so much pride in my education, career, and ability to earn a living on my own. It has humbled me to have to admit to others that I am ill to the point that I can no longer work and that I am in fact drawing my social security due to disability. Since I fall into that group of chronically ill people who don’t look sick, I am often judged when I admit I am disabled. I see the other person’s eyes take inventory of my physique which is on the plus size and I see the immediate judgement that labels me as being lazy, fat, and bilking the system. That is humbling! How do you stand up for yourself in those instances? I don’t since my pride has been broken. God knows the condition of my body so what do I have to fear from man? (Hebrews 13:16)

Another way my pride was challenged was by being presented with acts of charity. Prior to being ill, I would have never accepted charity. I was always the giver, but God has taught me there is grace in receiving and allowing someone else to be blessed by giving. I was humbled and grateful when the church paid my electric bill one month, an anonymous person put propane in my tank for winter heating, the church members had a food pounding and I was one of the recipients, and friends sent money just because they knew I had a stack of medical bills. God gave me many blessings in the lesson of humility while reshaping my character and he continues to do so today!

What is the definition of brokenness? Christians speak of being at  place of brokenness at the foot of the cross but what does that really mean? Dr. Charles Stanley says, “Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness. Through adversity, failure, and disappointment, the Father molds us into people whom He can use.” I do truly believe that God has used my chronic illnesses to shape me so he can use me, but I want to be clear that I do not believe that God caused my illness. (Romans 8:28) Satan likes nothing better than to hear us blame God for our circumstances. The Bible promises that God is with us in our need. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit”. God does not crush our spirit for that is not part of his character. He is our Creator. He loves us and in loving us He gave us free will to choose the world or Him. More importantly, He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, who had conquered death and freely paid for our sin so that we may have eternal life if we accept that free gift so generously offered of salvation.

Being broke, broken, or in a state of brokenness isn’t always a bad thing! For me, it has been as life changing at the chronic illnesses that spurred these states of being. So many people with chronic illness feel lost, abandoned, and forgotten. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can draw strength from Christ. Would you ask Him to draw near you? He understands and He intervenes on our behalf to God, the Father. I don’t expect to be cured of my illnesses, although that is up to God, but I do know the Bible tells the weak and weary to come to Him to find rest (Matthew 11:28), that the peace of God that surpasses all understanding is ours in Christ (Philippians 4:7), and that whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).