Tag Archives: Hope

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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The Greatest Gift

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Christmas is a busy time of year for most people, but it can bring unique challenges to those of us who have moderate to severe RA and are disabled. Society tends to demand that we participate and be jolly and merry, but for some all is not merry and bright. In fact I’ve read some dismal posts online from fellow RA’ers who are spending Christmas alone because they have been left out, left behind, or just can’t make a commitment to Christmas festivities due to physical inability. Others are so inundated with impossible tasks they are sure Christmas will be a disaster because they know they can’t perform to the expectations they have in previous years as the matriarchs or patriarchs of their families. Loss of income and inability to physically shop have stressed many who look at a bare Christmas tree skirt that in years past were spilling over with gifts for loved ones. It can be a challenge for some who have lost so much to feel like there is anything to celebrate.

If you find yourself among those who are less than happy about the holidays, let me assure you that you do have reason to have hope. Commercialism has turned Christmas into a shopping holiday and has left behind the true meaning. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ! God loved us so much he gave his only son to us to walk among us, live like us, to understand us, and then to die for us to forgive our sins. Even if you don’t have a single gift under the tree or don’t have a tree at all, you have the greatest gift that was ever given to man, Christ. I would challenge you if you are spending Christmas alone to pull out your Bible and read the first few chapters of the book of Luke which details the birth of Christ. If you don’t have a Bible, you can read it online at https://www.bible.com/bible/1/luk.2.kjv  As you read the first chapters of Luke, it will become clear to you what the true meaning of Christmas is and it’s not the tree, the gifts, parties, or dinners. It’s about recognizing the day a Savior was born into the world for you and for me; the greatest gift of all.

As a nurse, I worked many holidays. Sick people needing hospital care don’t get to go home for Christmas. So I’ve seen the gambit of human emotion and response to being ill during Christmas-time, but none touched me more than a Stage IV breast cancer patient who was told that she should give up and go home and get her house in order. She more than any of the rest of the patients on my ward had a right to be angry, bitter, and down but she sat and crocheted scarves on her numb and tingling fingers ruined with neuropathy, a side effect of the chemotherapy she was receiving. She refused to give up. She never stopped smiling even when her body was broken with disease. Chemo had taken all her hair, even her eye lashes and eye brows, but her face glowed with an inner light. She didn’t fret over being in the hospital at Christmas, instead she had praise for the Lord on her lips for being alive at all. She listened to Christmas Carols and even had a miniature tree on her bedside table. Every nurse got a scarf that Christmas with a “God bless you”. As alone as she was in the world that Christmas, in the hospital, she never complained. Her family was out of town celebrating with other family members and there she was all alone, getting poison infused in her veins. She did not despair. She was fighting to live with everything she had.  You just knew when you were in her presence that she was blessed and you were blessed for having met her! She knew the true meaning of Christmas!

Attitude has a lot to do with improving or worsening your current situation. I don’t feel that great myself. My body has rejected one biological agent after another over the last four years. My body hurts every day. I live on a income that is below poverty level and I can’t afford nice presents for others, but I am rich in that I know I can share the greatest gift of all with others.  If you find yourself alone this Christmas, feeling down, as if you can’t go on another day, feeling that no one understands or cares how you feel let me tell you that God knows how you feel. Accept the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, and you will never be forsaken, forgotten, or unloved. God wants you to accept His perfect gift. Will you?