Thursday, March 2, 2017

An Outside Perspective Pt. 3: Faith in the Midst of Chronic Illness

"In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." ~ Jesus (John 16:33b)

     I'm blessed to live in a community in which people pray for each other. "I'm praying for you" is often heard, and, I trust, meant. "How are your mom and brother? Please tell them I'm praying for them." I pray too. But what happens when answers tarry, or maybe never come the way we hoped they would? What happens when, after years, things just get worse instead of better? Living with chronic illness is a wearying road (and it's not a sin to be weary!!)

     It is hard to persevere in praying with faith knowing that God can heal, yet still finding peace in His sovereign goodness, saying "Thy will be done." It's easy to lean toward one extreme or the other, either "claiming healing in Jesus' Name" and then being hurt and disillusioned when healing doesn't come, or just giving up on praying about it at all, giving in to despair. But the reality is, we are never promised healing. On the contrary, in Scripture we are promised repeatedly that life will, in some way, shape, or form, be hard. What we are promised is that we can have hope, peace, and joy even in the midst of suffering. In Christ, we are more than conquerors no matter what suffering we may be facing, and we know that nothing can separate us from His love. (I'm resisting the urge to quote all of Romans 8:16-39 here, but please, pause and read it. It's so good).

     As Christians, our hope is not ultimately in this life. Even one freed from the bondage of chronic illness still dwells in a mortal body which will eventually wear out and meet death. Praise God, because of Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, we have a "living hope" (1 Peter 1:3), a certain hope of eternity with God where we will never again know sadness, pain, or suffering. Whatever this life may hold until then, we can have hope for that reason. That is why we can rejoice.

     So in praying for a friend with chronic illness, yes, by all means pray that God will heal them! We serve a mighty God for whom nothing is impossible, who loves and cares for His children, and we hope that someday He may choose to heal. But pray especially that God will uphold them in the midst of trial. Pray that He will sustain their faith, give them hope, joy, and strength to meet each day. Pray that He will comfort and encourage them with His promises. And don't ever stop praying.

     I tried to capture all this in a poem I wrote for my Mom some time ago, inspired by Romans 8, and I will use it as a conclusion to this series of posts. Whether you are facing chronic illness or trial of any kind, I pray it is a blessing to you.


Few can see, and fewer grasp
The nature of this road,
A way of hidden suff'ring
On which many tears are sown.

Healing an elusive dream
And pain a steady friend
Imparting weariness to days
Which drag on without end.

This isolating illness
With no promise of a cure
Casts shadows of discouragement
Oppressive to endure.

A God of love, unbroken pain,
How are these reconciled?
How can a Father give with love
This thorn to His own child?

These concepts do not contradict
Though I afflicted be,
For I'm co-heir with Jesus,
And He suffered for me.

Oh, pity me, all who look on,
If all that I possess
Is uncertain chance of healing
And hope of earthly rest.

Yet, God be praised! That is not so.
One day this ache will lift.
A hope unseen, but certain hope
Is mine because He lives.

An eternal weight of glory waits-
The glory of His reign.
Not even worth comparing
With this passing, transient pain.

This troubled path is leading home.
One day I'll reach that place,
And there be healed forever
When at last I see His face. 

1 comment:

Amy said...

I love this poem and your godly, biblical perspective. Thank you!