I frequently get asked by folks, “How do you handle all of this?”
This, referring to serious chronic illness, child-rearing, and working full-time.
While I’m not always “handling” things the way I should, I do know THIS is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. We’re almost fourteen years into this chronic illness journey.
Today my husband candidly informed me that he was lying in bed contemplating whether cutting off his legs or smashing them with a sledgehammer would be less painful. Truth, ladies, just bein’ real.
Pain meds aren’t working. We’re in a snarled mess with our insurance. Someone keyed in his birthdate wrong in January.
Everything that has to be reauthorized, including his anti-inflammatory biologic drugs, has been on hold for the past few weeks. No cancer treatments for three weeks, either. I’m biting back sarcastic words as I write this.
It’s a full-time job just trying to get the insurance company to get its act together. Who has time for that? These are soul-trying days.
I’ve been praying. A Lord’s Day series on the Holy Spirit has been just the ticket. What I need right now is more ability to “handle things”.
Like yesterday when my daughter angrily yelled, “Honk the horn, Mom!” She had just seen a driver dangerously cut me off. I muttered something about an idiot, and then apologized.
“How can you say that, Mom?” she asked. “They were being idiots.”
Well, yes, but I need to be kind. To do this, I need a power outside of myself. I’m NOT big enough, strong enough by myself.
So this morning in my brain fog and through my tears I prayed. I asked for the Holy Spirit to be my Teacher and Guide through the preached Word today. I’m definitely reaching out to all three persons of the Holy Trinity in a new way.
Hello, sermon! Can anyone quote Phillipians 3:1 for me without looking it up?
I really had to smile when I saw the text. It was like God was pointing His finger directly at me. In intense, amazing love, of course. REJOICE!
I will be even more candid, ladies. I love this senior saint who fills the pulpit temporarily. But sometimes his sermons are as scattered and his voice as dry as breadcrumbs tossed to the birds. NOT TODAY!
He did forget to mention what I find so dear about this book of Phillipians. Paul was writing from prison. He was writing about rejoicing. He was cut off from family and friends, suffering cold and hunger, and he was talking about rejoicing!
So today. Today, I was able to come home heart full to the brim with truth to digest. Then I cooked a healthy meal for us to digest.
Thankfully, the hubby was able to limp downstairs and join us. Next, I tried to rest my body, but ended up crawling into bed next to him, taking his hand and talking to him. So much encouragement needed!
What would our compassionate Lord do? He would remind us of WHO He is. We talked. Remember when?
In spite of the load of troubles we’ve experienced, God has watched over us and provided for us. He has shown us the Light of His love in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Both of us heard the truth of God’s Word in some form as we were growing up — myself with Christian parents, him with a Christian aunt. That’s a huge mercy!
With a hugely stressful childhood and a body with serious issues NO one would ever choose, my husband’s past is not pretty. Mine has some ugly streaks, too. That’s what sin and selfishness does. Like the curse on the fairy-tale Beast, original sin haunts us all.
Our present isn’t very pretty, either. I gave you a brief snippet and left out a lot of details for sure. However, there’s grace evident in our lives. Love that covers a multitude of sins. Forgiveness. Mercy. Provisions.
Facing what we do, it would be only human to completely “lose it”.
In fact, we’ve come close at times. Dangled over the precipice of sanity. Pain pushes the envelope.
Does my life really matter? Only Jesus’s love makes it matter! Chosen of God, accepted in the Beloved, redeemed!
The evidence is there: faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
While we’re wrestling with pain and serious physical anomalies, faith keeps hope alive. The struggle builds those faith muscles.
In fact, today our conversation turned to the past. My husband admitted if he had known twenty years ago he would have to face what he is facing today, his faith might have been shipwrecked.
My mini-miracle of the day is that we spent time together rejoicing in how God’s carried us.
On a pain-filled day when my husband couldn’t go to church, that’s real. That’s the work of the Spirit. Ask, and you shall receive.
We talked about our fears for the future, too. I’m reminded of a wonderful little quote from the late Elizabeth Elliot, missionary wife of the martyrd Jim Elliot and author of many encouraging books. She had three husbands die, if I am remembering correctly. On the topic of handling grief and hard things she was carried forward by this among many truths.
“Do the next thing.”
There it is. One faith step at a time, you reach for your next duty.
Ask for strength. The same Spirit that enabled Jesus to triumph in the forty day wilderness temptation dwells in every believer.
We can even rejoice, knowing that Jesus suffered the same temptations and trials. He was faithful. Only through His Spirit can we be faithful, too. I’m ashamed to say I’ve reached for the sword of the Spirit far too little. Lesson learned, I humbly hope and pray.
How about you? Do you remember to ask for the Spirit’s help in your unique problems? Do you find ways to rejoice? Let’s ask together this week, okay?
I read through the little book of Zephaniah today.(We’re snowed in.)
Have you ever read the minor prophets? It’s not for the faint of heart. Unlike the positivity thinking so prevalent in today’s American churches, these books do not gloss over the negative. Zephaniah is a short, one-two punch. Judgement is coming. God’s people and the church leaders (ch. 3:4) are among the guilty. Brace yourself.
The contrasts in God’s declarations are so vivid, it makes one reel with the truths revealed.
One example: “I will utterly consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from the land, says the LORD.” Zeph. 1:2-3
The contrast: ” Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be he shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.” Zeph. 2:3
Maybe, like me, you struggle to deal with the changes that chronic illness brings. Just when you thought you may have one phase mastered, a new twist hits. The meds change, diagnosis shifts, the doctor scenario changes –a lot hinges on a good doctor — and your life is turned upside down yet again.
Chaos, war, judgment, destruction! Where is the hope in this? Keep reading!
“The just LORD is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring His judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.” Zeph. 3:5
The just LORD does not sin. He is in the middle of our lives, working in ways we cannot fathom.
One evidence of His true work in our lives is the same fruit He gives those who trusted Him in Zephaniah’s prophecy: ” The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, none shall make them afraid. ” Zephaniah 3:13
Safety, food, and rest! These most basic needs based on truth and trust are being met by God Himself for His children.
In the hands of their enemies, safety, food, and rest were never certain.
Now read these words of amazing comfort given to God’s people at end of this book of woes.
“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;
He will save,
He will rejoice over thee with joy;
He will rest in his love,
He will joy over thee with singing… (3:17)
…Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee:
and I will save her that halteth,
and gather her that was driven out…” (3:19)
The end of your story and mine isn’t here and now. Keep reading.
Like me, you may seen a lot of heartbreak and misery unfold.
For Israel, war and captivity magnified misery.
Chronic pain and illness twists the knife in our daily living.
Relief is coming. It’s already paid for in full. ” HE has made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
Your life may feel like a just another tale of human woe, but those that trust in the LORD will never be disappointed in the end!
Anyone want to just skip now to the end of the story? I know. Me, too. I can’t wait to read the end of your grace-filled story, either. Let’s pray for that ending where we glorify God and enjoy Him forever, together.
…that He might be glorified. Is. 61:3
Read Isaiah 61. Then hop over to Luke 4. Read the whole drama, and wonder at the roller coaster events of forty-plus days in Jesus’ life. Being tempted by the devil himself. Preaching in synagogues, “being glorified by all” as his popularity increased. Then reading the Scripture from Isaiah 61 in his hometown synagogue (a.k.a, church) and speaking the truth to them boldly and plainly,
“This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Luke 4:21. Wait a minute, they responded, basically, we know this guy. He’s the son of Joseph the carpenter.
When Jesus chided them for their lack of faith, their outrage caused them to collectively attempt to throw him over a cliff for alleged blasphemy. All in a day’s work for Jesus who calmly escaped and continued his life’s calling and mission stated so clearly in Isaiah 61!
Mission statement of Jesus’ first coming :
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good tidings unto the meek;
he sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty unto the captives,
and the opening of prison
to them that are bound;
to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Over and over we see the compassion of Christ for the downcast of society, the poor, the sick, and the disabled.
Like the sad “untouchables” of India, those with leprosy in that day lived in quarantined colonies outside the cities and villages, the poorest of the poor. Jesus physically touched and healed lepers.
He raised the dead. He walked with the lowly and hurting.
“To comfort all that mourn;
to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called the trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.” Is. 61:3
You and I, fellow caregiver, we need to fall at Jesus’ feet. His end goal for us is beautiful. Trees of righteousness. Comfort. Joy. Praise. That’s where I want to be.
Like me, you may be mourning and broken-hearted by the devastation of chronic illness. Pain. Suffering. It’s inescapable. But the journey does not have to end there.
Jesus clearly told his fellow Jews, I am He.
I am the promised Messiah.
I have come to be the Light in this dark world.
I am the Bread of life.
I am the Living Water. My healing from sin and brokenness is eternal.
Is Jesus your beauty, comfort, and joy today?
I know I needed this.
It’s so easy to get sucked under by the constant onslaught of illness and negativity.
You and I — let’s be beautiful trees of righteousness.
That’s my prayer today. Help me, Lord, to be like Jesus. Help me to love righteousness. To love what is right. Help me to have your compassion. #brokenservingbroken
Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
This has been one of my very favorite verses for years.
As I child my family moved at least a dozen times before finally settling in the state I still live in. I was shy. Insecure. A worrywart… These words brought comfort in the confusion.
I’ve been married for almost thirteen years now. For me the path of life has not included a bunch of rainbows and roses.
In fact, the joy has been so often been shadowed by grief over dreams of a path of life I wished for. Dreams have been demolished by reality.
The knife of pain twists in my inner gut as I watch someone I love suffer on a daily basis. It is the promise of joy, eternal joy and rest, that keeps me going here and now. Oh, and time in His presence, in His Word. That is a taste of the fullness of joy.
On today, His day, seeking His face, remembering His love and sacrifice, that joy springs out of hiding.
Every moment of suffering will be redeemed by Him somehow. Cancer, chronic pain that makes life unbearable — how are you going to redeem this agony, God? I have asked that question more this year than any other. But, redeem it, my God. Shine forth! Do not be silent, God.
His word promises this end in Romans 8:28. I always used to believe that promise was for here and now. But it isn’t always.
The working together for good of all things may not be finished until His kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. But! It. Will. Come. For now we grieve ahead of time, seeing the decay of life right before our eyes.
I wonder, honestly, how much more pain can one body take? I wondered at the agony of end stage cancer with my sis, so recently released from suffering.
When things smooth out, when the good days happen, we joy in those moments, true. So we should. God gives richly those things we enjoy. Those are just samples, tastes of the unending goodness of God and the riches in glory stored up for those who love Him.
What a balance beam to walk! How to stay upright? Grief and joy war inside my mind. I hear echoes of this when you post in the comments.
Now I know for sure that it is okay and right to grieve deeply for what is lost, what has been destroyed by the curse, but living in grief constantly is numbing, paralyzingly so.
I need to look farther down the path for joy.
Our Jesus points the way. His life here on earth was so perfectly focused on pleasing His Father each day. Truth spoken. Compassion shown. Needs met. He wept with those who wept. Celebrated weddings.
As a caregiving wife, each extra measure we have to give can be done grudgingly or specifically for Jesus. All that heavy load, well, He carries it with us. I struggle with that inner huff, too, when more is piled in my shoulders than I think I can carry.
And that grief? His shoulders are broad enough to handle it. Tell Him every single sorrow.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
I pray His comfort for you and I this week. What would you like prayer for this week?
Living with chronic illness financially is like pouring your money into a sieve.
I just finished reading a beautiful, true story of a young couple who chose life for their conjoined twins. The surgery to separate them occurred this weekend.
How on earth did they fund such specialized care, I wondered. As I read further, I realized both parents had to quit their jobs to care for these special needs children and to plan for the needed surgery.
They’ve been living without tv or internet access. Their bills have been paid through fundraising and the generosity of the community around them.
Second-hand clothes and groceries have been donated to them on a regular basis. Without all this help, they would not be where they are today.
What a hugely humbling position to be in! Anyone want to walk in those shoes?
But these folks chose not to murder their unborn children. They chose life.
None of us have directly chosen chronic illness. We have, however, chosen to remain faithful to our chronically ill spouse!
While it is more blessed to give than to receive, remember that receiving means you have enabled someone else to be blessed.
God gives grace to the humble as I Peter states. Grace is very simply defined as undeserved favor.
In the big picture, ALL of God’s children are the very needy recipients of grace. No one is more important or more deserving than the other.
The book of James has some harsh words for rich believers who ignore the needs of the poor. We are all expected to extend God’s grace to each other.
This week I had to humbly ask for help. It was hard. But I knew I would end up in bed for the weekend if I loaded our ton of wood pellets into our house by myself. My husband cannot lift.
When I put the word out, the response blew me away. I knew I was inconveniencing folks. I had to remind myself it was a blessing for them, too.
What can you give up to try to live within your means?
Cheap heating fuel, anyone? We have central heat. It costs us a fortune to run it. Thus the extra labor and effort of keeping a wood pellet stove running instead.
Unfortunately, I cannot run a business very well without Internet. But the young couple above were using public wifi to cut that bill. Maybe that is an option for you, or maybe not
Consignment stores, thrift shops, well –those do take extra time to pick through to find the right size and needed items. If I pop in consistently, I find much of what we need secondhand.
Do you really need data on your phone? I found a cell plan that works for us. Unlimited talk and text. No data. No affiliate link here!
How do you deal with the needs you cannot meet on your own?
Say “yes” to donations. It’s humbling being the “needy” friend. I tend to be silent about our needs. There is always a list, though. What is amazing is the opportunities I’ve had to bless others by passing along extra things I’ve been given. To do so, I had to accept the freebies, first.
Practice praying for what you do need! One of God’s names is Jehovah-Jireh, God will provide. God stretches my faith by keeping me on my knees. James 1, again! His supplies are vastly beyond my puny needs. I pray for a lot of little things on my list. Right now there are some big things, too.
Go ahead. Ask. We are supposed to bear each other’s burdens. Sometimes folks have no idea how to help. They aren’t in your shoes. It isn’t their fault. I watched personal items, paper goods, food items, and comfort measures flow into my brother and sister-in-law’s home during the four years she struggled with cancer. They had a few fundraisers for bigger needs. Every. Single. Bit. Helps.
Practice profound and genuine gratitude. Grace is a gift. It is not an entitlement.
A couple of helpful websites for money ideas are:
http://www.daveramsey.com. We’re still in the “dream” stage of debt-free living.
See my past post.Four common frustrations you may face this week
http://moneysavingmom.com/ the most encouraging! I use her tips regularly. Do you have any great money tips or encouragement? Please do share in the comment section below!
Well, it happened! I lost today’s post. It was on Word Press, and then it wasn’t.
I really wanted to share this encouraging post by Scott Sauls. I read it three times this week.
I hope the link works and this is a blessing for you.