After receiving a chronic illness diagnosis of Fibromyalgia Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Disorder, my world as I knew it shattered. Joy, excitement, and happiness were replaced by shock, fear, disillusionment, and despair.
Waking to a broken body, mind, and spirit at the young age of twenty-six-years-old left me reeling.
What will this mean for my present and my future? What will it cost personally and financially? The loss of independence and dreams seemed daunting.
My accomplishments had left me disillusioned. I had finally started building what I thought was a happy life by successfully teaching Special Education. I became part of a supportive church family –– formed strong, lasting friendships. Why had it not been enough to keep the illness at bay?
I sank into despair as my health declined while my dreams, hopes, and plans slipped through my fingers.
On those dark days, there were three things I remembered to gain comfort and strength. I hope they offer the same to you.
Remember the Hope of God
Bombarded by constant pressure and pain, it is easy for despair to take hold of our hearts and minds. The enemy will attempt to bind us in it –– resulting in hopelessness.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares that His “plans [are] to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
God is a God of hope. He specializes in bringing miracles out of impossibilities.
Remember What God Has Already Done
One of the enemy’s tactics is to focus our minds on all that is presently wrong in our lives. He works to convince us that life is bad and will always be bad.
In those times, I’ve made it a practice of writing down the prayers that God has answered in the past. Intentionally reminiscing about the past struggles and storms He has brought me through serves as a reminder of His strength, grace, and faithfulness.
Charles Spurgeon explains, “His past mercies are guarantees for the future and worthy reasons for continuing to cry out to Him.”
If He could do it before He can do it now. God’s arm is not shortened, and the waves of pain have not gone over His head.
Remember the Promises of God
There are many promises found in God’s Word. I will include a few, but I encourage you to search His Word and make a list. Write them on note cards or sticky pads and post them where you are sure to see them.
- God promises never to leave us.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)
- Chronic illness can be a lonely experience. As Christians, we are assured that we are never alone.
- God promises strength.
“The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11 NKJV)
- The weakness of our bodies and minds can be overwhelming. Our strength is in the Lord.
- God promises peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27 ESV)
- The upheaval can unravel us. God’s peace can replace the fear.
- God promises rest.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 ESV)
- The continuous exhaustion felt from trying to find the missing pieces to physical, mental, and emotional puzzles is tiring. Our rest is in the presence of the One who has the answers. His knowing releases us from the burden.
- God promises a glorious ending to the present suffering.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18 ESV)
- One day the pain will end. His glory will shine as we rise triumphantly.
There is a process of grief in accepting a chronic illness diagnosis. Grace is required to get through the stages that come along with the pain.
Remembering to hope in God, remembering what He has already done, and remembering His promises offer comfort, peace, and strength in the struggle. In Him, we can walk through this season not just surviving but thriving.
Song of Praise
Remember, Steven Curtis Chapman