Expecting the Unexpected Blessings of Living With Illness

expecting the unexpected

(no, this does not look like the stationary recumbent bike I was on!)

If you are used to expecting the unexpected while living with illness, it may be planning for what will go wrong next. But what if you expect the blessings?

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.'” (John 5:8)

I am a big believer of expecting the unexpected when it comes to the negative parts of living with illness. Illness brings flares, infections, canceled plans, mixed emotions. Most of us are used to expecting the unexpected when it comes to the losses. But what about when you start to expect the unexpected blessings?

Last week I got on a bike, a recumbent bike. I haven’t been on even a stationary bike for over 15 years. I rode less than five minutes –but it is extraordinary to me.

After 19 years of rheumatoid arthritis, my knees have huge calcium deposits, old blood clots that have calcified, missing pieces of bone, and a cyst in the back of one leg right behind the knee. Usually, about 20 percent of the time when I stand up, a piece moves into the wrong place, about the size of a marble, and I cry out in pain and try to move it back with my finger. Some weeks, it is with every step.

But last month the doctor gave me 3 injections of a lubricant-like medication in my left knee. . . and then told me to get on a recumbent bike. “Seriously?” I asked. He may as well have told me to go run a marathon or take the stairs to the eighteenth floor. “But what about my right leg?” I asked him as I lifted it into the air and mimicked riding a bike so he could hear the crunch. He said other than that cyst, it should be okay, most likely, so to give it a try.

O. . .kay. I couldn’t get enthused. Though I trust him on most things, I was sure he was missing something. But I didn’t want to disappoint him and he wanted me to take advantage of the injections to try to build up some muscle to hold my kneecap in place. So a couple weeks later I emailed him and requested some physical therapy sessions–if he really wanted me on the bike.

I told him I wanted professional guidance as to what was okay pain and what was causing damage. He agreed, so the next day I got on the bike. And in just 3 sessions–in less than 5 minutes of actually being on the bike each session–I can do full cycles (as in my foot goes all the way around), without wincing over every motion. Baby steps. Or maybe I should say, baby spins.

But I am stunned. I am thrilled. I am even a tiny bit hopeful. And after twenty years of this annoying disease, I realize that maybe I should start expecting the unexpected blessings more often–not just the negative impact of this disease. Because God can do anything, and the fact that my leg can turn a few rotations and not cause significant pain feels like a miracle to me. Granted, the therapist has been doing neuromuscular electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, and low-level laser therapy on the knees too, but something is working. And it is an unexpected blessing.

It made me think of the man Jesus healed. He was down by the ponds, having his typical day of drudgery and along came Jesus and said, “Pick up your mat and walk.” Wow. What an unexpected blessing!

Prayer: God, I get to bogged down in all the things this illness takes away from me I no longer expected the unexpected blessings, but rather, just the negative stuff my illness brings. Remind me that You heal people every day and in many ways. Help me look for those unexpected blessings that send to keep me going. Amen.

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.
She is currently writing a book for Christian moms who live with chronic illness. If you are interested in sharing your stories, feedback and confessions for the book, visit her Facebook page at http://MomWithIllness.com .

Expecting the unexpected usually means planning for a trip to the hospital or having a list of your medications ready for doctors to see in case of an emergency. If you want to start expecting the unexpected blessings in your life, what preparations can you make to change your outlook what to expect when it comes to God’s intervention?

I (Lisa) grew up listening to the Gaithers since my parents like them. This is a clip of one of their television specials, ” “Count Your Blessings” where one of the younger boys sings (beautifully!) “Thank You, Lord, For Your Blessings On Me.” Can’t see the video? If you are receiving this by email, the video will not show up. Just click the link of the TITLE of the POST and it will take you directly to our web site so you can watch it there.