Woman in a wheelchair having coffee with another woman sitting on a bench.
Faith and Health

Coping with Chronic Illness: 7 Ways to Thrive with Christ

I really struggled with my faith after I was diagnosed with the hyperadrenergic subtype of the chronic illness known as POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). I couldn’t understand why God would allow this health issue to come into my life.   

I felt devastated. Frustrated. And depressed.  

After all, I knew God could perform miracles. I knew He COULD heal me. And yet as the years rolled by and He DIDN’T . . .  I struggled with wondering, “WHY?”  

This led to feelings of frustration and depression. But as I leaned on God through it all, He began to show me a new way of looking at it. And by implementing a few things I began to feel at peace even in my suffering.

Whether you are dealing with a chronic illness or any other health condition, these 7 steps can help you find comfort, hope, and encouragement.

Moving you from a place of just surviving . . . to thriving.

How does a chronic illness affect a person psychologically?

The impact of chronic illness on an individual can vary greatly due to the fact that not everyone has the same symptoms. And it doesn’t just affect you physically. It can also affect you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  

The psychological effects of chronic illness can include: 

  • Fears and worries about the future, doctors, hospitals, treatment options, and more. 
  • Exhaustion and fatigue (both physical and mental). 
  • Guilt from feeling like a burden or inconvenience to your family or friends.  
  • And even depression. 

In fact, depression is one of the most common psychological complications of a chronic illness diagnosis.  

Coping with chronic illness and depression can be hard. But by implementing a few key strategies for coping with a chronic illness or any other health condition, we will feel better . . . even while dealing with a body that doesn’t want to cooperate.  

How do you accept life with a chronic illness?

Coping and adjusting to life with a chronic illness or any other health issue is possible. It just takes a little bit of work and help from the Holy Spirit.  

While I don’t have all the answers, I have found a few things which have helped me considerably. And it is my prayer that by sharing these 7 effective ways of coping with a chronic illness you will be encouraged and inspired to not only survive your health issues. . . but thrive in them.  

Two tall trees with a forest behind them at sunset. And the words, "God is with me. Even in this."

1) Allow yourself to grieve.

Just like with any loss, there is a grieving process when you are diagnosed with a health issue. It is perfectly normal to feel sad about losing the life you once lived as well as the future you had envisioned for yourself.   

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But keep in mind, you can experience these in any order and go through them multiple times throughout your life.   

Somedays you will deny your limitations and push your body too hard. Somedays you will feel angry or depressed. You may even find yourself bargaining with God some days.  

(Don’t worry, I have done it, too.)     

And there are some days when you will find peace by choosing to trust that God is working even in this. 

Allow yourself the space and time to grieve.  

Your heart, soul, and mind need time to process what you are going through.  

2) Establish faith routines.

One of the most important things you can do when facing health issues is to make time for your relationship with God.  

The devil loves to use disappointment to get you to doubt God’s love for you. Because he wants to keep you sad, depressed, and angry.  

But God wants to remind you that: 

  • He draws near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18)  
  • He can take what was intended for evil and use it for good. (Gen. 50:20)  
  • And His Spirit living in you can give you the strength to face this new normal! (Phil. 4:13)  

So, read your Bible and pray. Create a playlist of inspiring music you can listen to on your hardest days. And consider hanging up encouraging Scripture verses around your home. 

As you learn how to get closer to God, you will find hope, peace, and joy . . . even if your health condition never improves.  

3) Make time for self-care.

Coping with a chronic illness and a disability starts with making time for self-care. Self-care is especially important while dealing with poor health. Your body needs more rest than the average healthy person does.  

Add some breathing room to your schedule every day so you don’t overdo it. Make time to do things like . . .  

  • Take a nap. 
  • Lay down and read a book. 
  • Do light exercises. 
  • Take a warm bath with essential oils. 
  • Or anything else that helps you feel rested and rejuvenated.   

And at least one day a week, observe the Sabbath. Take a whole day to do nothing but rest and worship.  

Your body and soul will thank you for it!  

“You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.” 

-Corrie Ten Boom
A woman obscured by sunlight while walking through a field.

4) Lower your expectations.

For years I struggled to continue to do all the things a healthy person could do, even while trying to live with POTS. And when I couldn’t keep up, I would feel sick and frustrated. If you feel overwhelmed and are tired of living with a chronic illness, perhaps you need to lower your expectations.    

Think of it this way. 

When a normal person wakes up, they have 100% charge in their battery to use all day long. However, as someone who struggles with health issues, you will often wake up to find you only have a 50% charge.  

You cannot cram what a normal person does in an 8-hour day within your meager 4 hours’ worth of energy a day.  

You cannot do it all. And that is okay!  

So, lower your expectations.  

  • Be realistic about what you can handle.  
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others.  
  • And learn how to say “NO”. (A great way to say “no” is to simply say, “Thanks for thinking of me. But I have enough on my plate right now.”) 
Sunlight over a road by a field with clouds in the sky.

5) Find a supportive community.

The Bible talks about how the devil is a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) In the wild a lion often looks for the prey that is weak, injured . . . or all alone.   

The worst thing you can do when facing a depressing health issue is to isolate yourself. It makes you very vulnerable to the devil’s attacks. 

This is why it is so essential to have supportive friends who will encourage you and be there for you. It is important to find other people who understand what you are going through.  

Look for local support groups or join some online ones. Do what you can to find a supportive community you can lean on.  

6) Accept the fact that not everyone is going to understand.

There are always going to be people who don’t understand or agree with you. You may even lose some so-called “friends” who decide they don’t like the boundaries you set for your health needs.  

Some people may tell you it is all in your head. Or even make fun of you. 

You can waste precious time and energy trying to get them to understand and change their mind.  

OR you can choose to avoid those toxic people . . . and spend more time with people who are supportive of you.  

(See tip #5) 

Hand holding a daisy.

7) Remember the hope you have in Jesus!

Keep in mind, that your life is NOT always going to be this way. Someday you will walk into Heaven where Jesus will wipe away every tear from your eye . . . and you will get a new body that functions perfectly!   

Thinking about what you have to look forward to will make the hard days here easier to get through. 

So, spend time in prayer reflecting on your future home. Imagine being reunited with loved ones. Picture yourself walking on the beach with Jesus without any pain, dizziness, or repercussions for pushing yourself.  

Go ahead and DREAM about what Heaven will be like.  

Woman in wheelchair with a woman sitting on a bench. Both drinking coffee. Coping with chronic illness? 7 Ways to Thrive.
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Can chronic illness cause trauma?

Coping with a chronic illness diagnosis or any other health condition for that matter can be traumatic. It completely changes the trajectory of your life. It alters your daily routine. And it can severely limit what you are capable of doing.  

But while a life-altering health diagnosis is the end of your life as you know it . . . when you choose to trust God, He can show you how this ending . . .  can actually be a beautiful beginning.  

Suffering has a way of revealing what really matters. And it helps us discover the truth that happiness isn’t found in our circumstances, whether we are healthy or not . . .  instead, happiness is found in a person.  

And that person is Jesus. 

  • He is the only one who can bring a smile to our face . . . even when we are in a difficult place.  
  • He is the only One who can bring us joy and peace . . . even while dealing with illness and disease.  
  • And He is the only One who made a way . . . for someday.  

Because in Heaven there will be no more tears. No more pain. And no more health issues. 

Hallelujah! Amen! 

If you found this encouraging, then please share! 

*****And don’t forget to download the FREE “How to Survive & Thrive” Guidebook! Featuring these tips in an easy-to-read and printable format along with Scripture verses, printable Scripture cards, and Scripture coloring pages!  

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