Happy New Year, friends. We can’t wait to spend another year with you. To kick off 2020, we’ve pulled your favorite posts out of the vault. Enjoy them again (or for the first time) with our “Best of” series all month long.
In today’s post, Bethany offers hope for those of us who deal with chronic pain.
I didn’t want to miss this opportunity.
Migraines had pulled me down one too many times, and I wasn’t letting them have the upper hand on this day. I pulled myself out of the hotel bedroom. I walked towards the mirror. I didn’t look good.
I grabbed my makeup case, loaded up the concealer, and lathered on a few extra coats of mascara. (Extra mascara always helps me look less sick.)
The clock was ticking. I needed to get out the door.
With my head literally pounding and my body feeling incredibly nauseated, I walked out of my hotel room and headed for the convention center.
The next few hours of my evening were absolutely awful. Once I made it to the convention center, I walked to the livestream recording room for the 2018 True Woman Conference. I had been asked to help host an evening of livestreaming with my amazing friend, Erin Davis, and I didn’t want to miss. I loved Erin, I loved True Woman, and I loved having the opportunity to be involved in a more meaningful way. My migraine was going to have to wait.
God gave me so much grace that night. I felt awful on the inside but looked alive and healthy on the outside. No one watching would have ever known that I was sick.
The moment the livestream ended, I literally sprinted behind the vendor curtains (where I assumed nobody would be) and threw up. I sat behind the curtain just throwing up and crying. I didn’t want to be sick. I’d already missed most of the conference. I just wanted to be well. But that wasn’t God’s plan for me.
Instead of staying and continuing to help host, I Ubered back to my hotel room, where I found myself face down in the bathroom throwing up for the majority of the night.
Yep, it was ugly.
When the Suffering Doesn’t Stop
My experience with a chronic health issue started when I was about thirteen and has persisted for almost twenty years.
I suffer from chronic migraines. I used to get them about six to eight times a month, but they subsided to about maybe two to three times a month. Since I got pregnant they have worsened. (Bummer!) I’m grateful for the wisdom of health nutritionists, family, and a super sweet husband who loves me and takes care of me every time I find myself unable to function for a few days.
Migraines are my “thorn in the flesh,” but I know many of you have greater “thorns” than me. I am so sorry about whatever it is that you suffer with. It’s hard. It’s painful. And if we’re honest, often times it can feel like a lonely journey.
When it comes to chronic pain, I don’t have all the answers, but I want you to know that I get it.
- I get what it’s like to have an “incurable” chronic health issue that you wish would just go away.
- I get what it’s like to miss work again and again.
- I get what it’s like to miss the party, the conference, the date, the event, the church service, etc., etc. (I’ve missed so many amazing parties and events that I’ve lost count.)
If you find yourself struggling from a chronic illness, I want you to know that there is hope. You can trust God with this part of your life story.
Three Reminders When Your Suffering Doesn’t Stop
1. This Is Not Your Home
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4)
For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Heb. 13:14)
I find so much hope knowing that this isn’t it. This isn’t my home. One day I will go home to be with Jesus, where all of the pain and suffering will be gone. Our Savior will wipe away every tear, and we will no longer have to suffer.
2. You Will Get a New Body
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:42–44)
This body is passing away. One day in heaven Jesus is gonna give you a new, perfected body. I know that this life feels long. It can feel painful. It can feel lonely. Have hope; this too will pass. Jesus came to earth, gave up His life, and was beaten and unjustly murdered so that we could one day spend eternity in heaven with Him. I can’t wait for the day when we will be with Jesus and live forever in bodies that will never ache again!
3. God Can Use You in Mighty Ways
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)
As you suffer with chronic illness, look to Jesus for strength. Don’t look at your weaknesses and think of all that you “can’t” do. Look to Jesus. There is nothing He cannot do!
There are so many amazing people in Scripture and in the Church right now who didn’t have the ability to do much but God used in incredible ways. He gave them the ability. I love the example of Joni Eareckson Tada. She is a woman who has chosen to live all out for Jesus. She knows true power and strength come from Him, and she’s allowed Him to enable her to do the impossible through her life.
Hear more of Joni’s amazing story in this video.
4. You Are on a God-Defined Mission
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18–20)
This life isn’t about you and what you want to accomplish. It’s all about bringing glory to God in whatever way He sees fit. Some of us will have (like Paul) a “thorn in our flesh” that we just wish God will take away. Often times God doesn’t. He wants us to depend on Him and serve Him in spite of the thorn. He wants to show through our lives that true power comes from God (not from man).
Don’t believe the lie that your illness prevents you from doing that. It doesn’t! Pray and ask God to show you how He wants you to fulfill this command.
Surrender Your Suffering
I don’t know your story. I don’t want to simplify your pain. I know life can be extremely hard.
I pray that you and I will take our eyes off of our sickness long enough to remember these four truths. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s painful. Will you join me in surrendering the fear, worry, and anxiety and in trusting that God can use the “least of these” to do incredible things for His Kingdom?
I would love to hear from you. What’s your story? How have you found hope through your chronic illness?