Are You Tearing Patches From Your Life Before Illness?

“He told them this parable: ‘No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.'” (Luke 5:36)

Soon I will hit the nineteen-year mark for living with rheumatoid arthritis. In some ways I can hardly believe that I have lived with daily, life-changing chronic pain for nearly two decades. On the other hand, I remember my days before pain as my childhood, and my days with pain as my adulthood.

So if I can barely remember doing tasks such as picking up the house or doing laundry without pain, why is it so easy to slip into moments of frustration? Of. . .. “If only my hand would work! if only every step wasn’t so painful!” One would think since I have always done such tasks through pain, it would at least seem normal. But as the pain and deformities increase, so can my level of frustration if I allow it.

In Luke 5 the religious leaders of the time are asking Jesus why those who follow Him are not fasting like those who follow others, such as John the Baptist. He explains that although the time will come, for now, it would be like tearing out a piece of a new garment to mend an old one.

It is easy to lump our life into the categories of “before illness” and “after illness” but it can be harder to wrap our brain around the idea that “after illness” is our new life. It is the fresh, most recent, God-ordained, Father-filtered life we have been given for this very moment in time.

When I recently read this scripture in Luke, I was reminded how easy it is for me to try to cut up this new life I live with illness and use the pieces to patch up my old life, before illness. When I think how this visually looks, it seems absurd that anyone would take a new coat and chop it up to mend the old coat. Even when we don’t particularly like the color or fit of the new coat, it only makes sense to wear it and learn to change our feelings about it, rather than patch up that old one with pieces of new clothe–destroying a precious gift we have been given of a new coat.

Are you trying to learn to feel comfortable in your new coat? Or are you shredding your new one to attempt to patch your old one?

Prayer: Lord, I need assistance in accepting this disease and all of the little ways You try to help use it each day to make me a more patient, understanding, and compassionate person. Rather than seeing it as a gift I didn’t ask for and don’t want, help me see You purpose in it all.

About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.

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What parts of your new garment have you been tempted to tear off to try to use it to patch your old one–your life before illness?

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