Three Ways I Live with Chronic Illness

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.

https://joyfulrefuge.com/2017/03/23/the-choice/

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,

Deb

The Refiner’s Fire

I believe in seasons of high pain, shattered dreams or disappointments it is so easy to think of all you want, desire and dream more than our all sufficient, all powerful, faithful, sovereign, good and wise God. So thankful that His grace and forgiveness are limitless and no matter how many times I sin or stray from my first love He is ready to forgive and welcome me back.

My husband and I have just walked through the hardest 6.5 months of lies, false accusations and betrayal by those whom we least expected. It has showed me how much He alone is faithful and sufficient, especially when people are not.

Prior to this, I had  4.5 years of being like the children of Israel pining to go back to Egypt for leeks and onions and forgetting about their hardships and slavery. My “leeks and onions” attitude made me look back too often wishing I was back in Arizona and for the friendships we had there, rather than looking ahead or looking up to God. This hard situation revealed a new side to our life back in Arizona (we left there due to health issues April 2014) and made me press hard into God in my pain, confusion and loss.

God also used this to reveal many things to my husband and I about our own hearts in how we responded to this. I would hate to ever walk through this again, but can see God that used a grievous thing for my eternal good and His glory. Hopefully in weeks, months and years to come will see that more and more.

We all know and quote Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But the way things work for good and the purpose is described in verse 29:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
The good purpose for all things is to conform us to the image of his son not our comfort or personal happiness.

Often conforming to Christ comes while walking through the heat of a refiner’s fire where the dross of sin, wrong motives and self focus are removed bit by bit. In my flesh, I often want God to be my fire extinguisher and put out the fire instead.

Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel. Proverbs 25:4

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Malachi 3:3

Reading this a few years ago really helped me to endure the fires of shattered dreams, health struggles and all suffering. Today it was a reminder I once again needed.

One day we took the children to see a goldsmith refine gold after the ancient manner of the East. He was sitting beside his little charcoal fire. (“He shall sit as a refiner”; the gold- or silversmith never leaves his crucible once it is on the fire.) In the red glow lay a common curved roof tile; another tile covered it like a lid. This was the crucible. In it was the medicine made of salt, tamarind fruit and burnt brick dust, and imbedded in it was the gold. The medicine does its appointed work on the gold, “then the fire eats it,” and the goldsmith lifts the gold out with a pair of tongs, lets it cool, rubs it between his fingers, and if not satisfied puts it back again in fresh medicine. This time he blows the fire hotter than it was before, and each time he puts the gold into the crucible, the heat of the fire is increased; “it could not bear it so hot at first, but it can bear it now; what would have destroyed it then helps it now.” “How do you know when the gold is purified?” we asked him, and he answered, “When I can see my face in it [the liquid gold in the crucible] then it is pure.”
Amy Carmichael

My prayer is I will be conformed more and more to His image rather than fighting to put out the fire.

Blessings,

Deb