“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
It’s easy to have a crushed spirit when you live with chronic illness or pain. There is so much that you can’t do. There are so many ways in which you are limited. What Winston Churchill referred to as the “black dog” of depression seems to be ever-lurking around the corner, ready to devour you at any moment. You try to put it off. You try to focus your energy on something else. But it’s so much easier to just give in.
What if you could find humor in the pain?
I read once that someone with chronic fatigue syndrome meets the standard diagnostic criteria for both insomnia and narcolepsy. As I let that sink in, a giggle bubbled up in my throat. How can someone be both prone to staying awake all night and dropping off to sleep without any warning?
In that moment, the ridiculousness of the situation struck me, and I laughed at the pain. It was as if I suddenly realized that I could let this thing defeat me or I could look for ways to keep right on living despite it. It was my choice.
You know what? God wants us to choose life, always. Whether we have to laugh at the silliness, stop and enjoy a sunset, roll our eyes at the pill container every morning, or revel in a nice, hot bath, it’s far better to work to maintain a cheerful heart than it is to keep focused on the hardship.
Let’s face it: the pain and the illness may not be going anywhere this side of Heaven. We don’t know God’s plan. What we do know is that there are thousands of ways in which He blesses us every single day. We just have to keep our eyes open – even if it means turning that “black dog” into a bit of humor that nobody else understands.
Prayer: God, clear my vision today so that I can see the good things. Help me to focus on them, no matter how small, instead of keeping my vision locked on the darkness. Most importantly, remind me to daily choose to look to You, the source of my help, instead of staring out the mountains every day (Psalm 121). In Jesus’ name, Amen.
About the Author:
Marie Gregg lives in North Idaho with her husband, Chris, and their two dogs. She was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome in 2010. Her deepest longing is to glorify her Savior and encourage others as she has been encouraged.