I was wondering how faith helps others to deal with chronic disease. My counselor recently shared a letter with me from an older woman who has dealt with health issues all her life. While very encouraging, I realized many of my things that helped me are different than hers. My top three are:
1. Practicing gratitude. Gratitude gets my eyes off me and onto blessings I receive even in the midst of the hardest days. Gratefulness helps me recognize God’s fingerprints in my life and produces joy not based on my circumstances. This blog post below shares how God gave me a vivid real life illustration of the difference of gratitude and joy vs bitterness, resentment and anger.
2. Embrace my chronic illness as ordained by God for both my eternal good and His glory. As I submit to God’s plan in my life, my character and faith have transformed so much since my health tanked. Knowing God allows what makes us grow the most like Christ to conform me to be more and more like him enables me to try to see life from an eternal perspective and see His hand at work rather than be bitter or constantly asking “why me?” (Roman’s 8:28-29) Embracing it as His plan also helps enable me to accept my disease and embrace the new and ever changing normal. When diseases progress or symptoms change causing more loss, I grieve the losses and process it and eventually embrace what God has done. I still have bad days and am constantly trying to balance my doing with the needed rest and lack of energy of my body.
John Piper had an article on this with a quote that so struck a chord with me.
3. Word Saturated and prayer. If I am not regularly in the word and in prayer (communication) with God I will drift in my thinking and attitudes. I need to preach truth to myself constantly. With my past it is easy to go into old thought patterns of how worthless, unlovable and wrong I am and go into fear and/or panic attacks. Counseling has helped me immensely. One thing my counselor told me is my negative thoughts on self and fear and guilt have made big ruts in my thought processes and I need to make new paths of truth thinking. I have verses on spiral bound 3” x 5” cards that tell me who am in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-10, Colossians 3:12 etc) and ones to help me with fear (Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 26;3-4, Philippians 4: 6-8 and more). I have read a few times God knows we struggle with fear and that it is addressed 365 times in the Bible.
Adjusting and living with chronic illness is a daily even moment by moment process. Symptoms change, diseases progress but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I constantly fail but so grateful I can run back to my Daddy God’s arms and He always accepts me, forgives me and loves me.
What has God shown you to help you in your journey with health challenges or trials?
Grateful for His loving grace,