Don’t do it! Do not take that plunge into despair. There is help. There is hope.
NO, I am not being funny here.
If you or someone you love struggles with chronic illness, you know exactly what I mean. If not, then let me give you a real life scenario. Your dear husband hasn’t gotten more than two hours of sleep a night for more than a month. He is walking around in a brain fog, forgetting to even look at the important notes you’ve left for him. You come home from work each day and pick up all the pieces.
On top of everything else, he needs your constant encouragement, because no one else really knows what life is like for him right now.
You feel like you have nothing left to give. You feel like you cannot handle one more problem. You are teetering on that, “I can’t do this anymore,” ledge. Reality check.
Somewhere in the fog on the top of that cliff you remember truth. It goes like this.
You are NOT able to bear this alone. You are not alone. You are not forgotten.
For real?! Prove that to me, will you? I understand your skepticism. My husband and I have done a lot of dancing on the edge of why? Why suffering? Why does God give me more than I can handle?
One post on this topic will not do the trick. Go read Job. You and I are not the first or last of Adam’s race to face the overwhelming bitterness of the effects of the Fall. We are drowning in the consequences. Time for facing the truth.
“For I know that in me ( that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells…” Romans 7:18
Truth # 1: Don’t think you can handle life on your own. The life of faith is a battle that requires God’s weapons. That battle begins with how we think about God.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
● I was a teen when a wise, biblical counselor told me, “God is good all the time. Satan is bad. Never mix up the two.”
○ Satan brought sin, death, and suffering into this world through a partial-truth deception. Sometimes the lies we believe have a bit of truth mixed in.
Like, well, we deserve to suffer. Yes, but in Christ’s death and resurrection, our sin is totally paid for. We are redeemed! Romans 8:33 “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God that justifies.”
○ God does not leave us in the dark about who He is and what He is like. His Word is abundantly clear. He is holy, just, and good. Take the time to read or listen to His Word when overwhelm hits.
○ God infinitely loves His children, so nothing can separate us from His love, not even death. Romans 8:38-39, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us…” Truth that opposes Satan’s lies!
● We need to seek God and His strength. The amazing apostle Paul who endured great suffering states, “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness’.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. .
You are never alone in the suffering.
● Aha! Behold one of Satan’s lies which really is a fiery, painful dart to our heart when our shield of faith is down. Listen to King David’s experience. “For my enemies speak against me; and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together, saying, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him.’ O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!” Psalm 71:10-12
○ David reminds himself over and over again of God’s goodness and greatness even when he struggles with life’s battles. Read the Psalms when you are struggling with the magnitude of your troubles.
○ When facing new and extreme challenges, God told Joshua, “Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Truth #2: Faith is a battleground, not a playground, so fight in humble dependence on God!
● “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. RESIST him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 2 Peter 5:8-9 . Recently I learned that Peter was crucified upside down by the enemies of the Christian faith. He asked for this upside down position because he did not feel worthy to be crucified like Christ. Read the prior verses. He speaks about the humility needed to access God’s grace. Pride gets in the way of our faith so often.
○ Ask for God’s help daily. Depend on him. That actually takes practice! Cry out to Him over every little thing.
○ Ask for prayer! Oh, me! Why don’t we pray more? Life is too hard to bear on our own.
○ Ask for help from other saints. We all desperately need help from time to time. To do this, you need to plug into a church and connect. That takes me out of my comfort zone, I know, because of our unique family situation. A few summers ago we had some church folk digging up bamboo roots in our yard for us. It was too hard for me or my husband to tackle. We could not afford to hire someone. I do feel so awkward at times. I have to make myself push past that by doing the following.
○ Remember this: All of God’s people are broken people. No one enters His kingdom as a righteous, self-sufficient person. Secret pasts, hidden suffering, untold stories of personal pain — we all need Christ’s love and healing. “By His stripes we are healed…” We are all still on this journey of healing. Suffering the trauma of chronic illness is a result of that curse. We are the company of the broken, redeemed and being made useful, “to the praise of His glorious grace.”