In The Midst of Your Chronic Illness, Is God Enough?
I think the hardest thing to deal with when it comes to chronic illness is being able to wrap your mind around what’s going on inside of you AND being able to trust that God has a clue about what He’s doing. This is something I have really been struggling with lately. In fact, as I was reading this book, “When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away” by Esther Smith, there’s this one section where she says,
“But God grants us a promise. Those who live with us may walk right past us in life, but God walks right alongside us… He stays no matter what.”
And all I could think was… Bullshit. I know, as a good Jesus girl, I’m not supposed to swear. But bullshit. Capital B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T. I read that book from beginning to end wondering when I was finally going to have that AHA! moment where God reveals to me why I’m suffering. I kept going back through her words and the parts that I had underlined but the answer wasn’t there. You can’t just make a statement like that and not back it up with some clear, concrete answers!
I mean, what good is it to have a God that stands right alongside me if all He is doing is just… standing? So what that He’s there? What good does that do me when I am ill every single day, my symptoms getting worse with each passing month, and my independence and ability to do… well… anything is nearly nonexistent? Oh, the why’s I keep asking Him that never seem to get answered. The questioning of why He would answer my prayers of being surrounded by people who enjoy fitness when I’m no longer able to participate. Or why He brought me to this beautiful house near the beach when I can no longer go there alone to enjoy it. It just seems like some cruel joke He is playing on me and all I can do is ask “Why???”.
But then as I listened to my pastor preach yesterday, the answers came. “Come out of the flesh and live by the Spirit.” and “If I want more of God, I need to press into Him.”
Come Out of the Flesh and Live by the Spirit
The flesh wants the fun people to hang out with, the beach house, the finances, health and prosperity. We want that comfort and sense of peace that comes along with all of that, but what if we end up like Job and all of it gets taken away? Will God be enough? I haven’t been so sure and that’s been a question I’ve really wrestled over with God lately. I want to be a good Jesus girl and say, “Yes Lord, you will always be enough.” but when push comes to shove, I really want my comfort and I really want my health.
But fleshly comforts don’t bear spiritual fruits. They only bear more fleshly desires. And I’m not saying it’s wrong to want those things but it’s been important for me to realize i don’t need those things. Because when it comes down to the nitty gritty of it all, what I really want and need is to live a life that is remotely worthy of the price Jesus paid for it. There is nothing within me that is worthy of the blessings He has already given me. There is nothing I have done that makes me deserving of a phenomenal husband, a well paying job I love, a home that brings me such comfort when I’m in it, or the health I have had for most of my life. I am not deserving, in my own right, but He gave all of that to me anyway.
If I Want More of God, I Need to Press Into Him
So, I’ve come to realize that what I’ve been missing most is more of Him within me. And if I want more of Him, the answer isn’t to walk away simply because life has gotten super hard. The answer is to press into Him and allow his Spirit to fill more and more of me.
Have you ever seen that science class experiment when the teacher asks the students to tell him when they think the jar is full? He starts by putting big rocks into it and asks them if it’s full. Then he adds in smaller rocks that start to fill in some of the crevices where the big rocks missed. Next, he adds sand until the jar is completely full to the top. He asks again, do they think the jar is full? And just when they think it actually is, he pours water into the jar.
That’s how I’m seeing my walk with Jesus. Just when my heart feels full and life seems to be everything I need and want it to be, He shows me there are still empty spaces that He needs to fill. I didn’t know they existed before. I had no idea that there was more that He wanted to show me. And I’m thinking there will be many more times throughout the rest of my life that He will need to remind me that He’s not finished, but my job is to stand there and allow Him to do the filling.
Don’t get me wrong, I still question Him. I still ask all those why’s. But I’m also wise enough to know that He may never give me the answer, at least not here on this earth. And when I think of the alternative – a life without Him in it, the choice is easy. It will always be Him, standing next to me, often times in silence. So for now, fill my crevices Lord. Teach me to stop asking “Am I full yet” because until I reach heaven, the answer will always be no. Help me to be like Job – never afraid to have frank conversations with you and strong enough to live a life of despair knowing you are always with me.