2 Corinthians 12:18 – Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
There are many choices a person can make when treating chronic pain or illness. We’ve been diagnosed with another new issue, but we hope and pray that there will be a cure. So, we pray about it and ask others to do so. Then we schedule an appointment with our physician and they give us a referral to a new doctor. Our hopes run high as we think that perhaps this one will have a way to help us feel whole and be cured of our disease. But what if you see the doctor, believe God can use him to heal you, and nothing happens? You’re here. You’re nowhere. Your mind spends the rest of the day, unable to focus, still not believing what you heard. How could this have happened? Because even as the Apostle Paul experienced a “thorn in his flesh” we too may have to suffer. But our suffering doesn’t need to be spent asking “why” or trying to figure out if there’s yet another doctor we can see, or another procedure we can have or any number of ways to find that “cure.” We can use this illness to learn that God hasn’t given up on us. And he’s not trying to hurt us on purpose. He loves us more than we can know. And he has his arms ready to hold you through this storm.
Matthew 6:22 - The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Your eyes are one of the most important organs of the body. They provide us with a view of our world and allow the world to see into our eyes and the pain or joy that’s inside our hearts. When living with chronic pain, one of the less mentioned areas is the eyes. Have you ever noticed when a tiny eyelash falls onto the eye, it causes the rest of your body to shout, “Get it off of me!” Our eyes are sensitive to touch, heat and light. Our eyes aren’t just our visual input system they can become a true source of chronic pain and disease. And most of the diseases are very painful. I live with a disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome. Many of you may know it as dry mouth, but did you know it also affects your throat, lungs and yes, your eyes. Even with treatment sometimes the eye pain still persists. This can be frustrating. God can help you with your frustration and pain. He can help you find the best way to help your eyes so that you can continue to use your eyes as your window to the world around you.
Psalm 119:82 - My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, "When will you comfort me?"
You’ve just heard some bad news about your health. How could the doctors have not known that you were developing a life-threatening disease? What about all of the regular blood tests and exams? Did the doctor hurry through your visits thus passing over irregularities? But however you got to this point, you’re here. It’s really happening. So what are our reactions to this kind of news? In public we put on a good face and say that it’s going to be okay. But in the quiet moments when you’re alone, you may find yourself screaming out loud, “This isn’t fair! I can’t do this! Why do I have to do this?” Your friends may look at you and feel proud at how you’re fairing and holding up under this terrible burden. Do you tell them what’s really going on? Did you know that it’s possible to do both? You don’t have to muster up a good face when in public, because you can still be screaming inside and be at peace. It doesn’t make much sense, I know, but it is possible to be at peace with something terrible when you know you have God’s arms encircled around you bringing you the comfort you need, and helping you believe that there can be a turn around.
Job 16:6 - Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved; and if I refrain, it does not go away.
Some of the hardest words to hear are, “There is no cure.” How do I go on with my life when I find out I’m going to have to live with this illness? There are no easy answers. Each person has to face what’s going on and travel down the road towards acceptance. This doesn’t mean that we won’t explore ways to help us live a better life even with a chronic illness. Try looking at alternative therapies such as essential oils, herbal supplements and acupuncture. You may feel, at first, like you are grasping at straws, but somewhere in the middle of the haystack of illness, God can help you find a way to live the best way you can.
Job 2:10 - But Job replied, "You talk like a godless woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?" So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.
Some of the hardest words to hear are, “There is no cure.” How do I go on with my life when I find out I’m going to have to live with this illness? There are no easy answers. Each person has to face what’s going on and travel down the road towards acceptance. For me, I can’t just take one step at a time. I have to take one moment at a time and be prepared for days when I don’t even want to try to move forward. I’m thankful that I’m not in this alone. I always have my traveling companion with me – Jesus. I couldn’t do this thing called life without him. Do you have my traveling companion with you? He’s only a prayer away.
Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
Are we a collection of illnesses and diseases? Is this who we’ve become? No. It doesn’t have to be. Living with chronic pain and illness is a difficult road to walk on. It’s covered with pitfalls and rocks with high fences blocking the road. But we don’t have to put more rocks on the road ourselves. Pain and disease are a condition not our whole life. Do you struggle with allowing your illnesses to dominate your life? If you don’t, consider sharing with us how you stay above it. I’d love to hear from you.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.