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.

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,


Finding Purpose in Suffering – Part 2

“The very thing we are afraid of, our brokenness, is the door to our Father’s heart” – Paul Miller

Suffering is painful and we often feel broken in the midst of it and wonder when it will ever end. Reminding ourselves of God’s divine purposes in suffering helps us endure and find hope. This blog post will cover another six purposes of suffering. To read the first six purposes read my previous post here.

7. To Share in the Sufferings of Christ (Philippians 3:10)

10I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death

It is easy for us to be jazzed about the power of His resurrections, but not so much with participating in His suffering. How quick we forget that the goal of the Christian life is knowing Christ and becoming like Him. Suffering is one way in which Christ transforms and refines us to be like Him.

8. To Reveal Hidden Sin or Keep Me From Sin (2 Corinthians 12:7) (Psalm 119:67,71)

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” 2 Corinthians 12:7

My suffering or thorn in the flesh may be what I need to keep me humble rather than becoming conceited or proud. Matthew Henry said it this way, ” If God loves us, he will keep us from being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered to cure spiritual pride. This thorn in the flesh is said to be a messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it, and overruled it for good.”

When we lived in the Midwest in the late 1980’s, we had a good friend Nancy, whose brother had become a paraplegic in a car wreck. Her brother was quick to tell anybody who would listen about his story and how God used his devastating car wreck for his good. He would share how he was ignoring what he knew was true of God and His word and was choosing a life of sin prior to his wreck. He would then share the following verses from Psalm 119.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.

71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

9. To Experience that Christ Is Enough (2 Corinthians 12:9)

8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

“The infliction was not indeed removed; but there was a promise that the favor of Christ would be shown to him constantly, and that he would find his support to be ample.” Barnes Notes on the Bible.

As Ann Voskamp says in her book The Broken Way, “our weaknesses can be a container for God’s glory.”

At the conference last week, Nancy Guthrie shared how God does His best work with empty. God fills Sarah’s empty and too old womb with a son named laughter. He also filled the virgin Mary’s young, empty womb with His Incarnate Son.

Christ’s sufficient grace where we are weak and/or empty is always available.

10. To Discipline Me for Holiness (Hebrews 12:10-11)

10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Truly, discipline is not something any of us enjoy while either dishing it out as parents or taking it in. As v. 11 teaches, it is scarcely enjoyable and mostly sorrowful. Yet, the benefits are like a field producing abundant crops at harvest time: “it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” God’s discipline, though at times painful, produces His righteousness in us, His children, simply because He loves us. May we, as we go through discipline, pray for an abundant garden of His righteousness and peace in our lives.

Someone once said in reference to discipline: “And so what do I say? I say let the rains of disappointment come, if they water the plants of spiritual grace. Let the winds of adversity blow, if they serve to root more securely the trees that God has planted. I say, let the sun of prosperity be eclipsed, if that brings me closer to the true light of life. Welcome, sweet discipline, discipline designed for my joy, discipline designed to make me what God wants me to be.” Wow! That kind of statement can only come from a child of God who truly wants to be molded to God’s will.

11. To Make Me Spiritually Mature (James 1:2-4)

2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

When we think back to times where we experienced greatest spiritual growth it usually is due to trials we were walking through at the time. Those trials of various kinds are what test our faith and produce steadfastness and equip us with spiritual maturity. That maturity and proving of our faith is cause for joy.

12. To Give Me Opportunity to Live Out Genuine Faith (1 Peter 1;6-7)

6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Real faith is not just lip service to Christ. Trials remove the dross and impurities from our lives, just as fire removes the dross and impurities from gold, so that our faith is real, genuine faith. This genuine faith will be found to result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus returns. Let us pray that our responses to suffering will result in praise, glory and honor on His return.

There may be other purposes in sufferings, but these are the ones Nancy Guthrie shared at the conference in Colorado Springs. As we consider go through our suffering, we often question God as to why and what is His purpose in this. May we instead ask Him to reveal Himself to us in the midst of our circumstances and to work in us.  May we also be willing to accept that we may not get our questions answered in this life.

Love & Prayers,