Sunday, August 21, 2016

How I See Hope as an Invisible Chronic Illness Sufferer


As I type this now, my left hand is buzzing with the pins and needles of numbness. It looks normal, but it is not. Pain pinches and knocks on my joints, running down my bones, but you cannot see it. My heart is fighting sadness because I want to be with the body of believers at church this morning but I cannot. Everything I do is a sacrifice of love. But you cannot know that. Easy things can be hard for someone with chronic illness. Hard choices are always being made. This week I chose to do too much so today my body is needing to recover.

Choosing what to do each day doesn't seem hard but it really is hard for someone with chronic illness. There is only so much that each person can give of themselves until their body shuts down. This is true for all of us but I look at the Olympians and how their bodies sustain long and grueling marathons and triathlons and I am amazed. These people may collapse after a marathon but I doubt they have to determine if they should use their strength for the day in going to the grocery store OR cleaning the house? Playing with their child OR helping them with their homework? Making breakfast OR taking a shower? These are the hard choices and sacrifices that those with little strength must weigh and determine. Otherwise the simplest thing will cause their body to crash. This is probably why I am such a control freak. I want to avoid a crash by any means possible.

I struggle with pride and contentment in this state I am in. It is the lot I have been given but sometimes, I just want to feel "normal" like I have no limits. And God does allow me great glimpses of limitlessness at times. Great glimpses where I can soar. I feel as if I can do anything! I love those moments. Yet, honestly they are just a moment, a taste, a shadow of what it will be like in Heaven to live with an unlimited body. Oh how I long for that day!

Guilt and shame are often companions of the chronically ill. Guilt because they don't feel as they can contribute so what is the point of them being there at all? Shame because no one can see the disability so they feel condemned by others who can bodily do the work. Grief is another common companion. If you are like me, those glimpses of strength often deceive you so when great weakness returns, you often grieve it all over again. Loneliness likes to companion you, depression likes to extend a hand of friendship, and despair likes to draw you and rope you in.

People mean well but often they don't know how to enter into someones pain and suffering. Those special people of grace do enter in and believe me it is not easy. I am hard to love. I don't want help. These are the people who know how to show Christ-like love. They give me hope. And hope is enough to resist the pull from despair. Then the hand of depression isn't as easily accepted and loneliness leaves because someone truly cares who can show Christ-like love.

That hope given is light exposing the darkness for what it is. The Light of Christ and He alone is what fills us with hope. Hope comes in one form through God's people loving well. Hope gives light which makes the darkness flee. Hope gives one courage to face another day with strength in the grace of Christ, which gives us the hope of the resurrection. Sin still runs rampant. We are in a fallen world. Sometimes our bodies fall apart and nothing can be done about it but the good news is, this is not our home. This is not the final destination. In Christ, there are pleasures forevermore. In Christ, all sad things will be made right. So we wait. I wait. With hope in the coming resurrection at the return of Christ. Will you wait with me?

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