You may look at someone and wonder why they are so lazy. They are not lazy! They have been in a battle for weeks, months, or even years. They are exhausted and just taking the next step may seem unsurmountable. They feel like they can’t go another step. They feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. They have been fighting the illness. They have been fighting the side effects of the medicines. They have been fighting their feelings of despair. They have been fighting their thoughts of worthlessness. They have struggled with having to have someone else help them do what they used to be able to do by themselves. They are not lazy, they are worn out from all the fighting.
What I am about to share with you is not to seek pity. It is not to seek your sympathy. I am going to share some with you for two reasons: 1) the glory of our Father, and 2) to help you better understand what someone with a chronic illness goes through.
Most of you know that I tend to be generally upbeat and positive. I try to remain realistically optimistic. However, you have all seen me (or read my posts) when I have been down. Some of you know the struggles I face on a daily basis. Others have no clue the pain I endure. For starters, let me say that I have many chronic illnesses. I have diabetes, bi-polar II, Crohn’s Ileitis, Barrett’s Esophagitis, Restless Leg Syndrome, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, gout, restrictive lung disease, and intestinal torsion. Any of these alone can cause stress, but add them all together and you get chronic almost constant pain and stress.
I wake up in the morning after a restless night. I have finally found the right position to actually get some rest. My eyes open and my first thought is not to move. I am finally comfortable so why risk the pain of moving. I just want to stay still and enjoy a few moments of no pain. Then our Father whispers in my ear, “My grace is sufficient.” I stretch and sit up. So far, so good. I stand and as I am looking in the bathroom mirror shaving or whatever, my back pain kicks in. I have to sit down the pain gets so bad. As I sit, I wonder if I want to even try to get up and go. Then our Father whispers in my ear, “My grace is sufficient.” Back in the bathroom I notice the large, deep scar that stretches from one side of my abdomen to the other and remember that I was not supposed to live past 16. Our Father whispers in my ear, “My grace has been sufficient so far and will continue to sustain you.” I finish getting ready and am having a hard time breathing. I have to sit and wait for my oxygen levels to come back to normal. As I sit, breathing heavy, I think that the day will be hard to endure. At that point, our Father whispers, “My grace is sufficient.” The abdominal pain and nausea washes over me like the incoming tide of the ocean. I sit trying to decide if I have to go vomit. Will the diarrhea combine with the nausea to make it difficult to make it out the door? This is when our Father whispers, “My grace is sufficient.” Some mornings it is just too much and I head back to bed. If I go back to bed, I lay there thinking that life is really a tedious thing. Then our Father whispers, “My grace is sufficient.” Other times I make it out the door and head to the office. As I feel the pain grow in the car on the way to the office; our Father whispers, “My grace is sufficient.”
I find a parking space close to the office. If it were far from the office, I would have to make a few stops to catch my breath. If I do, our Father whispers, “My grace is sufficient.” I climb the flight of stairs up to my office. At the top, I am winded and walk into my office panting. I sit in my chair struggling to catch my breath. As I sit there, our Father whispers, “My grace is sufficient.” I could continue to work through my day; but what you will see is as I struggle just to keep going, our Father reminds me that it is only in His strength that I can do anything.
I am not supposed to be alive. My life is limited by many physical complications. Some would say my quality of life is sub-standard and would offer me an option to end the pain. However, truth be known, I am supposed to be alive because our Father has not decided it is time for me to go home. My life is limited but my God is not! He has given me a rich and full life. True, I can’t do many things I used to be able to do or that I desire to do; however, every step I take He is with me and brightens the path. As to quality of life, I walk with the King of kings and Lord of lords. How much more quality of life is possible?
I can identify with Paul that God has given me a thorn in the flesh to keep me relying and depending on the grace and strength of our Lord (II Corinthians 12:7, 9, 10). It is because of my weakness that I have learned the strength that comes from and through the Lord. He enables me to keep on keeping on. He gives me strength to endure. He gives me the will to continue on the journey. It has been a hard journey yet it has led me to be able to share the strength of the Lord. There have been many times I have wanted out—to end it all—but God’s presence has comforted me and His strength has enable me to continue.
Life with chronic pain and illness is hard but our God’s grace is sufficient.