I will never forget the day my son ran into the house and excitedly declared, “We are going on a field trip to the zoo!”
And then I watched his happiness fade into disappointment as he quietly whispered, “I was going to ask you to chaperone . . . but that would be too far for you to walk.”
My heart broke inside my chest. But despite the pain, I smiled at him and told him I was so happy for him. I told him he was going to have so much fun. And that I wanted to hear every detail about the trip when he got home.
He seemed satisfied with my response and ran out the door to play with his neighborhood friends . . . while I sunk back into the couch and broke down in tears.
It’s difficult to reconcile all my heart wants to do . . . with the limited capabilities of what my physical body can actually do.
Living with chronic illness is hard. It is disappointing. Frustrating. And depressing.
But there is hope. Even in this.
- How does chronic illness affect a person psychologically?
- How do you live with a chronic illness?
- Living with a Chronic Illness: Can the Bible Help?
- Living with a Chronic Illness: Tips for Living Well
- Living with Chronic Illness and Jesus
How does chronic illness affect a person psychologically?
One of the number one psychological effects of chronic illness is depression. Because the limitations and frustrations of living with a chronic condition can really weigh on our souls.
There is often a grieving process we go through upon our initial diagnosis. And we may even experience periods of grief throughout the rest of our life.
It is perfectly normal to feel sad when we think about the things we were once able to do. To feel frustrated over how hard things can be now. And to feel deep sorrow over the things we had planned to do in the future that will no longer be a possibility for us.
How do you live with a chronic illness?
The impact of chronic illness on one’s quality of life is quite significant because it can affect one’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
With such a vast influence on every area of our life, it can be hard to navigate the changes a chronic illness can have on our lifestyle. But there is hope for living well with a chronic illness when we choose to live this new normal with Jesus.
He can take all the bad things and turn them into good things. He can use our weaknesses to display His strength. And He can shine His light into the darkest of situations.
Living with a Chronic Illness: Can the Bible Help?
On the days when I am experiencing so much fatigue and vertigo that I can’t get off the couch, I have found the Bible to be my lifeline.
I can read the Psalms to find laments to help me cry out to God in my distress. I can read stories of how God used the hard things in people’s lives to do amazing things for good. I can read about the hope I have for the future because of what Jesus did for me on the cross.
And I can memorize encouraging Scripture verses to give me the strength to make it through another day.
These passages remind me of three important truths:
- I am not alone.
- God can use it for good.
- It won’t last forever.
Truth #1: I am not alone.
I have no reason to fear because God is always with me. Guiding me. Helping me. And fighting for me.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”-Psalm 46:1-3 NIV
Truth #2: God can use it for good.
God can redeem bad things and use them for good. (Genesis 50:20) So, I know He is using this hard situation to grow me. To strip away my pride. To develop my character. To increase my faith.
And while it may not be fun right now, in the end, the harvest will be worth it all.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”-Hebrews 12:11 ESV
Truth #3: It won’t last forever.
Because of what Jesus did on the cross, my suffering won’t last forever.
While my suffering may last for the rest of my life . . . I know I will be healed as I enter Heaven and run into the arms of Jesus Christ.
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”-2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT
Living with a Chronic Illness: Tips for Living Well
Living life with chronic illness or any other health condition is hard. But with Jesus, it becomes a life worth living!
No matter what we are going through, by following these three steps, we can move from feeling upset to trusting Jesus to lead us through it.
- Step One: Go ahead and grieve.
- Step Two: Pray continuously.
- Step Three: Remember eternity.
Step One: Go ahead and grieve.
It’s okay to take the time to grieve the life we once lived and the death of our dreams for our future. It’s okay to be angry. To be upset. To feel confused. Our hearts, minds, and souls need time to process what we are going through. We need to take some time and sit with our emotions.
But we can’t stay there.
We must move on to the next step which is to:
Step Two: Pray continuously.
We need to tell God exactly how we feel. He already knows anyway so we might as well be honest with Him about it. God doesn’t shy away from our real, nitty-gritty emotions. (Just read the Psalms for proof of this!)
After all, He created our emotions and declared them good before the Fall.
The problem comes when we let our emotions lead us.
- We need to be honest about what we are feeling. But then we need to make a beeline for the cross.
- We need to lay our emotions down at Jesus’s feet. And then choose to trust Him in everything.
- We need to give it all to God. And then go on our way, knowing that God is with us every step of the way.
This is exactly what David did in the Psalms. He cried out to God with gut-wrenching honesty. But by the end of the Psalm, he was praising God and declaring his trust in Him.
And we can do the same thing.
We can be honest with God in prayer about what we are feeling. We can ask Him to heal us. But then we must choose to trust Him no matter what we are facing.
This sounds hard . . . but it becomes easier when we practice the final step. Which is to:
Step Three: Remember eternity.
I am going to be perfectly honest here. One of the greatest things my chronic illness has revealed to me is that deep down I know it is NOT supposed to be this way.
Bodies aren’t supposed to break. People aren’t supposed to die.
I think most of us would agree that in our hearts, we know this life isn’t the way it was meant to be. But thinking about this can help us remember eternity.
Jesus came to Earth and lived a sinless, perfect life. He died the awful, torturous death we deserved to die. And then the Father resurrected Him to new life.
All so that someday we could spend eternity in Heaven with Him.
Where there will be no more sorrow. No more crying. No more pain.
Where everything will work perfectly. And all will be just as it was intended to be. Hallelujah!
Living with Chronic Illness and Jesus
We may be stuck living with a chronic illness or suffering from another health condition. But Jesus changes everything.
He can use all the bad things for good. He is with us every step of the way. And He will make it all right someday.
When we take the time to remember what we have to look forward to, it makes it easier to manage the hard things we have to go through.
This life isn’t all there is. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a hope that no one can take away.
There is a reason to keep going when bodies break and health fades . . . and His name is Jesus.
If you found this encouraging, then please share!
And don’t forget to check these out:
- Coping with Chronic Illness: 7 Ways to Thrive
- What is Gastroparesis? Plus 7 Helpful Tips for Living Well!
- Why Won’t God Heal Me? 3 Things to Consider
- 10 Powerful Ways God Heals Us
*Here at “Rich Faith in Poor Health” we do not provide medical treatment, diagnosis, or advice. We just share what has worked best for us in our own health journeys. No information published on this website is intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional. We highly recommend that you talk to your doctor before taking any action or making any healthcare changes.