“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
The lives we live with chronic illness are chaotic. Perhaps you have noticed this theme running through the devotionals lately, as we compare our life to roller coasters to Tilt-a-Whirl rides. They are up and down, this way and that, constantly moving, but rarely in the direction we planned.
As my own life has taken its share of spins and drops this year, I can see how friends don’t know what to say. In the past when our family went through a struggle we were cheerfully assured “I just know it will get better! God has something even better in store for you! You are making such a difference, so I know God will reward that. This won’t last. It has got to improve.”
And then things got worse.
And we repeated that cycle.
So what is there left to say? People are reluctant to say “I know it will get better” because they haven’t seen this come to past. It is just a fact that none of it makes sense. Sometimes we do survive the waves of the storm, only to be met by an unexpected tsunami.
And yet God is still in control. Still loving us. Still wanting to bless us, yet as He sees the details our entire life spread out before Him, He knows exactly what we need now to prepare for the days ahead. He know the experiences we will survive that will encourage those around us. He can look at our personalities and know what situations we need for us to be mold-able.
He loves us enough to keep us challenged, stretching us away from comforts that we can rely on too heavily. He wants our full dependence on Him–because only He can give us the peace we seek.
I saw this quote recently: “Something is wrong when our life makes sense to unbelievers.”
It is so true! It is only rational for us to think that unbelievers should see (1) a Christian struggle; (2) a Christian be faithful; (3) a Christian be rewarded with an easier life as a reward for his or her faithfulness.
But God uses us not as proof of His perks and blessings but as walking examples of how His peace is different than the world’s “peace.” Instead of #3 being about us, it should be about Him. What should unbelievers see? (3) a Christian who has peace and joy that far exceeds what anyone should ever expect from one who is suffering so much. (And where can I get some of that?)
Prayer: Lord, some days I can accept the suffering and am honored to be Your disciple, suffering alongside You. Other days I just grow weary of it–annoyed even, that You require so much of me. Give me that deep longing to be like You, regardless of the price I must pay. Teach me to humbly accept the molding of me by Your hand. Amen.
About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she has been extraordinarily blessed by this family God gave her at Rest Ministries. She lives with her husband and son in San Diego and has lived with rheumatoid arthritis 22 years this month and fibromyalgia about 20. She keeps waiting for God to just let her “coast” through a couple years of life, but God continues to have a lot of refinement to do on her and a lot of stuff to burn off. You an see her newest venture here in the Rest Ministries shop: http://www.illnessbooks.com/Jewelry-By-Lisa/
Do you think your life makes sense to unbelievers? How does this perspective change how you feel about suffering?
This is Sidewalk Prophets singing “The Words I Would Say.” Oh, life with a chronic illness (and all those other side effects that can be more life-impacting that the illness itself) is hard! I so know this. Yet, this song, “The Words I Would Say” truly are the words I’d like to pass along to you today. I hope you are blessed. -Lisa