Being a good friend to a chronically ill person is simply equivalent to being a loving Christian. Unfortunately, chronic illness is often an invisible illness until it progresses to the state of absolutely life-threatening. A dear friend of mine has undergone lung transplants twice. However, her autoimmune illness was virtually ignored by her own primary doctor and she experienced being accused of “faking” her illness or that it was “all in her head.” She transferred to a much more proactive doctor in sheer desperation. Shockingly, she was given six months to live unless they could do a lung transplant. At this point, there were some Christians who truly owed her an apology. Please don’t put yourself in that position with your chronically ill friend. A few ways to be a true friend include:
Assume your friend is telling the truth about his/her symptoms.
Don’t imagine that you can cure your friend unless perhaps you are a specialist in the particular area of illness that he is experiencing.
Be very careful about what and how you disseminate information about your friend’s condition.
Matthew Henry on the sin of gossip:
“It is required of us that we be tender of the good name of our brethren; where we cannot speak well, we had better say nothing than speak evil; we must not take pleasure in making known the faults of others, divulging things that are secret, merely to expose them, nor in making more of their known faults than really they deserve, and, least of all, in making false stories, and spreading things concerning them of which they are altogether innocent. What is this but to raise the hatred and encourage the persecutions of the world, against those who are engaged in the same interests with ourselves, and therefore with whom we ourselves must stand or fall? Consider you are brethren.”
Another of the countrified sayings I grew up with was, “When the going gets tough, then the tough GET GOING.” One way to haul yourself out the miserable muck of self-pity and unbelief is to park in Hebrews 11 for a while. God has called all His beloved children to a life of faith and obedience.
Examples of extreme faith abound in Hebrews 11. Noah built an ark that took one hundred years to complete. It was impossible to hide! Since the Genesis record shows no account of oceans at this time, but a vapor canopy that watered the earth, the ark was a totally unique and monstrous structure. It certainly piqued the curiosity of his neighbors. And as you know, people will talk. “That fool, Noah, is wasting so much of his life.” Noah used his ark building project as a springboard for preaching righteousness.
Perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching tests of faith is the experience of Abraham being commanded to offer up his long-awaited son of promise, Isaac. He so totally believed God that he counted on Isaac’s resurrection! He had never seen or experienced resurrection himself.
In reading book reviews of books written for caregivers of chronically ill husbands, it was difficult to find a Biblical perspective on the unique temptations we wives face. Once couple agreed that the wife could have a sexual partner on the side as long as the husband never knew about it. I know that many of you struggle not only with finances, relationships with others, but also physical deprivation. Some of you work long hours to provide for your family and your man doesn’t have even have an ounce of affection to give after his struggles with pain and depression. Extreme selfishness is a temptation that the chronically ill/disabled often battle, too. Our men can get mired in self-pity and unbelief in their own fiery trial of faith. They can fail to see and try to meet the needs of their wives.
God has called us to holiness. He specifically forbids adultery and fornication. Faith and obedience require us to spurn the advice of the world to seek other sexual satisfaction outside of marriage. I have wept and prayed for some dear sisters in my on-line group who struggle so fiercely with these areas of temptation.
It takes gritty faith to maintain that commitment that God requires in marriage. He doesn’t allow for us to wiggle out, unlike the “no-fault” divorce. He expects us to learn to love as He has relentlessly loved us. When we do, we show our love and gratitude for His gift of eternal life.
I have been blessed with a man who loves to show affection. However, we have to struggle with many physical constraints on our marriage. The eyes of faith help me to see that this life is quickly passing away. Deprivation of any sort is a temporary condition. There is a great day of pure love and joy coming at the throne of the King of Kings. Meanwhile, we have heroes of faith to help light our path. Who is your favorite Hebrews 11 hero?
“Without faith it is impossible to please…God.” Heb. 11:6 “With God all things are possible.”
“If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” What a zinger of a little axiom! My daughter’s mood can so easily be affected by my mood. Remaining joyful, triumphant, and encouraged is the challenge that God has placed on my plate. He clearly commands it. Phillipians was a book written to a group of suffering saints. “Rejoice in the LORD always, and again I say rejoice.”
Whining and complaining were constant themes in the life of the children of Israel. I catch my daughter whining more than I would like, and it drives me CRAZY at times. So, despite the enormity of challenges in being a caregiving wife, I would bend my knees and ask to be a continually grateful Child of the King.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
My goal and prayer this week, this month, this year is that I would have an attitude of gratitude. May it be very contagious! Happy momma, happy child, happy home! How would you like to be happy, too?
IF YOU’RE HAPPY and YOU KNOW IT…