Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.
When people talk about an unpleasant situation, some can always find that silver lining. But the rest of us. Well. When something unpleasant is happening, we don’t just see the glass half empty. We can’t even see that a glass exists in the first place! No matter what may be happening, good or bad, the pessimist always looks at the bad and can’t believe that things will ever work out. A lot depends on our past experiences. As children, we learn quickly whether we’re one of the “cool” kids or someone that gets stomped on. The same can happen as an adult. People may mistreat you and reinforce that bad things are always going to happen to you, and rarely will something good. But that’s no way to live. God is all about giving us promises of his faithfulness and goodness. He tells us to keep our thoughts focused on the true and lovely. Granted, it’s not always possible to avoid seeing that everything looks bad. But only for that moment. That’s when we need to turn to God and see that he can be the true and lovely in our lives no matter what else is going on.
Exodus 18:17-18 - Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone."
When Christmas comes upon us, all of the shopping and cooking can feel like a giant wave catching up with us, and washing us into a storm of activities. This can be challenging even if you are healthy, but if you battle a chronic health condition it can quickly exhaust you. So you set a magic hat in front of you and reach inside to find reasons why you can’t do these things even though other people think you’re just making excuses. Your, “No,” is unacceptable to them. After all, Christmas only happens once a year. So you change your clothes, put on a happy face and head out the door to go shopping or attend a party. But what’s the result? Your chronic illness takes stage front and everyone sees you sinking into a couch with pain written across your face. There has to be a better way. How do you enjoy Christmas when you aren’t well? During the Christmas season we can all find ourselves swept up into the waves of all the things that “need” to be done. But that’s not healthy for anyone, especially for those with chronic health conditions. Don’t be afraid to say no to the many activities available and don’t be afraid to ask for help, like Moses’ father-in-law suggested in the Bible verse above. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the season instead of dreading it.
Ecclesiastes 5:18 - This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them--for this is their lot.
“Enjoy your job?” Did I just hear you right? This dull lifeless collection of tasks to complete are supposed to be a source of enjoyment? Even God puts an emphasis on enjoying your work in the Bible. King Solomon spent time examining life to find out what was meaningless and meaningful. He saw that it was good for a person to enjoy their work, because this was the lot that God has set out for them. We can try to find ways to enjoy our work instead of dreading it, even if it’s a tough job to like. Let’s escape the demands of just pushing through life and find ways to be happy all week long instead. If you can imagine that you can focus on this snapshot of life, run after it. It will be worth it. When you reach the end of your life, will you really be excited about the memories that only showed a meaningless life, or can you with God’s help, create days that are meaningful. Give it a try. If King Solomon thought it was worth it, then so can you.
Luke 2:19 - But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The “day after” can often refer to something bad that has happened and how you’re managing to cope. But sometimes, “the day after” can refer to something wonderful that happens. When it does, take a deep breath and feel the joy filling up your whole being. Let it get into the cracks of where your heart has been broken in the past due to heartache and sorrow. Your heart will be able to beat strongly again, as you inhale joy. Hang onto those moments. Store them up inside your heart as Mary, Jesus’ mother did. Not everyone will understand you and how you can go from such deep aches inside to blessed peace. But you will. God knows the very moment when we’re in need of something uplifting in our lives. He can open our eyes to see that though right now things are tough, the sun will break through again. Let the joy begin!
Proverbs 14:30 - A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Jealousy and envy can chip away the happiness we have in our lives. This applies to not only our general lives, but when someone battles a chronic health condition. We can become jealous of the lives of people who don’t face this battle every day. I know they have some kind of battle they fight, but they may not find pain at every corner. We can also envy other people’s lives as we watch them leave for work or meeting up with a friend. Why do others not face the daunting life of pain? But you’ll never find peace or joy in your life if you keep looking at healthy people’s lives. You don’t know what’s really going on in other people’s lives. It may be that they are healthy, but perhaps a spouse or parent battles health issues. That can be like experiencing it in your own body because you hurt to see them suffer. We all have pain in our life one way or the other. Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to want someone else’s life. And remember that God sees everyone’s lives, including yours. Let him wash away your jealousy and envy and give you the goal of praying for the people you think are leading a healthy life, because God can give us the gift of thinking and praying for others no matter what their lives look like, and in return he will help your heart to feel joy.
Psalm 27:3 - Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
Being flexible isn’t always easy for type “A” personalities. We tend to want to have everything planned out before beginning our day. And then, something happens to side track us. But what we thought was messing up our day actually brought about a chance to do something we wouldn’t normally do. And that can lead to joy and strengthening of our confidence. Do you have trouble when life gets side tracked or are do you accept the interruption and find something good in 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.