According to the CDC, six out of ten Americans lives with at least one chronic illness. Some live with multiple chronic diseases and many don’t even realize they are ill and haven’t even been formally diagnosed. I believe chronic illness is one of the most misunderstood and under emphasized troubles plaguing us today.
Unfortunately, there are so very many lies about chronic illness. I encounter people every day who are either family members of those with chronic illness or those who are actually suffering from it.
The lies that surround chronic illness frustrate me, because not only do they cause sufferers’ conditions to worsen, but they also reveal a small element of truth to the lies, not absolute Godly truth but just a sad reality type of truth…a worldly, societal truth. The problem is we listen to the voices of the world way too much.
What if we stopped listening to the world and started listening to God? What if we stopped succumbing to the harsh realities of chronic illness? What would happen if we stopped allowing society to stigmatize and spread the lies?
Starting now, I’m choosing to dispel the lies. Let’s sit down, take some deep breaths, and quiet the chaos so we can sort through the lies spinning in our minds to create a peaceful spot to accept the truth.
SOCIETY’S BELIEF: People with chronic illness are negative, intense, and draining; they aren’t worthy of my time and energy.
GOD’S ABSOLUTE TRUTH: “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:4
God values you. He stands by you. Faithfully, He will support you and send Christ-like, compassionate people to uplift your heart. Embrace that truth not only to encourage yourself but others.
Here are a few words from Lysa Teurkerst from her book Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Left Out, Less Than, and Lonely
“Rejection never has the final say. Rejection may be a delay or distraction or even a devastation for a season. But it’s never a final destination. I’m destined for a love that can’t ever be diminished, tarnished, shaken or taken. With you, Jesus, I’m forever safe. I’m forever safe. I’m forever accepted. I’m forever held. Completely loved and always invited in.”
SOCIETY’S BELIEF: I just can’t deal with the illness, and I don’t know how to go about helping. My life would be easier if I just abandoned the situation and the person.
GOD’S ABSOLUTE TRUTH: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:15-16
God’s presence is what you need on days when you feel abandoned by loved ones and friends. Have you read The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence? Quotes like the following will help you usher in the loving presence and companionship of The Father:
“You need not cry very loud: He is nearer to us than we think.”
“The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way.”
SOCIETY’S BELIEF: Anxiety is inescapable and psychological.
GOD’S ABSOLUTE TRUTH: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19.
Anxiety is not inescapable. In His Word, The Lord encourages us that He will comfort and support us. Many sensations of anxiety, feelings of butterflies in the stomach or dread are actually physical. Digestive problems, hormone imbalances, and underlying illnesses can cause symptoms of anxiety like nervousness and palpitations. Taking care of the underlying physical issue many times relieves feelings of anxiety. Crystal Payne writes:
“You don’t have to stay perpetually overwhelmed and exhausted, barely existing in survival mode, anymore. You can start living with direction and passion. Today.”
Her book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life offers practical steps to reduce anxiety, stress, and help you usher joy to your life.
SOCIETY’S BELIEF: Chronic illness is so overwhelming that I can’t function in every day life. Making the simplest decisions is impossible.
GOD’S ABSOLUTE TRUTH: “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6.
Don’t let the barrage of decisions in life overwhelm you. I love this quote by Emily P. Freeman from The Next Right Thing: A Simple Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions. It’s a little book that has been such a blessing in my life to help me create space and clear the chaos so I can make decisions one step at a time:
“…share with your friend Jesus directly the question you’ve been carrying, and then move on with your day as normal… As you simply do the next right thing in front of you—wash the dishes, write the email, read the chapter, have the conversation—pay attention not only to what’s happening on the outside but to what is moving on the inside. Look for arrows, not just answers. If God has something to tell you, and you continue to place yourself before him, he won’t let you miss it.”
God’s truth is the only absolute truth, and it’s been my experience that most people don’ speak it. Knowing the truth of His love for you, can completely obliterate any lies the enemy tries to use against you. A powerful weapon, it can dispel lies and heal hearts. I encourage you to seek God’s truth. Fill your heart, soul, and mind with it, ushering in God’s presence and joy in your life. I’m praying for you, my friend, not just for physical strength but for the truth to set you free and strengthen you from within.