Finding Strength While Battling Chronic Illness
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”- Psalm 73:26
We sat in familiar chairs with our kind doctor. Dr Shapiro guided us through a hellish two-and-a-half years, as my husband endured unending suffering and loss, as he battled Chronic Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. He was hospitalized every six weeks, each time manifesting life-changing symptoms. MS has no known cure; the disease is merely managed, as the immune system attacks the nerves.
Muscle spasms, tremors, chronic fatigue, anxiety, short term memory loss, and numbness from the waist down, left it nearly impossible for him to walk. Riding a scooter and long-term disability were now part of our story. Dr. Shapiro searched us with warm eyes and said, “It might be time to consider a nursing home.” Tension rose inside, as I squared my shoulders in defiance, and barked, “That won’t be happening. I’ll take care of him.”
Strength in God
What do you do when life falls apart? How do you navigate the unbearable heartache of sickness that knows no cure? How do you handle the grief when everything falls apart and your vision for the future has drastically changed? How can you find strength to carry on?
Apart from God, we felt hopeless.
Papa is most tender towards the sufferer, as long as we don’t turn our back on Him. What if God, in His sovereign goodness, allows suffering so we can catch a glimpse of His heart? What if our Maker approves it as a way to draw us to Himself? When life turns tragically hard, where can we turn but, Jehovah?
Left to ourselves, we question God’s character. We’d feel abandoned, forsaken, and unloved.
What if trials are designed for accelerated growth and dependence on our Creator?
What if His tangible love carried us through? My husband and I focused on union with God, and delved into studying the scripture, to understand God’s heart on the matter. We couldn’t do the marginal Christian tactics and survive this trial. We weren’t just going to church or checking off our Bible reading plan each day. We need God desperately.
Four Keys to Moving from Heartache to Strength
1. Get honest with God
Transparency is key. We took all our fear, doubts, and overwhelm to God and poured it out in desperate prayer. There’s no need to pretend when life falls apart. It’s not necessary to hide the overwhelm, instead, bring it to the Light. We serve a compassionate God who welcomes our brokenness. “Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8
2. Stand on the truth of His Word
We bathed our cares in the washing of His Word. We meditated on the promises and became familiar with God’s character. We dug deep into knowing who God is and how He responds to the hurting. \It brought immeasurable comfort. We learned trust, perseverance, steadfastness, and faith, as we walked through these crimpling days. “I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.”- Psalm 119:12
3. Practice surrender
It’s easy to get demanding when hardship lingers, but God asks us to place our lives in His hands. Surrender is the gateway to freedom and peace. Jesus practiced with His father and leaves us a worthy example. Holding loosely to our dreams, desires, and outcomes, ushers in calmness. “My son give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”- Proverbs 23:26
4. Trust God
Trusting God became our only option. The doctors had no known cure. Our future looked bleak, if God didn’t intervene. We chose a heart posture of willful confidence. No matter how bad it got, or what new calamity we faced, emotionally, physically, or financially, our hearts were full of expectation and hope. We realized God was most trustworthy!
Our story ended with a miracle.
On Sunday, November 10, 1996, my husband was gloriously restored at a prayer meeting. There’s no explanation, except God stepped in and renewed his body, in an instant. All symptoms vanished and complete mobility was restored. He quit taking 17 prescriptions and returned to work. Only God.
I understand all chronic sickness does not end in healing. But the greatest lessons we learned through the trial was a deep devotion to God and how to apply the scripture to our hearts. We died to our desires and fell in love with our benevolent King.
That’s how you move from heartbreak to strength.
Pamela is an enthusiastic encourager with a passion to speak, write, and coach. She believes all of life flows from our loving union with God. She helps Christian moms navigate their changing roles with their adult children through intimacy with God. Her favorite way to connect with her readers is through her monthly Mid-life Motherhood 101 newsletter and her bi-weekly blogs. If you’d like to receive some love in your inbox, hop on over to her website and sign up for the good stuff. She also has a Library of Free Resources for her email friends. Pamela lives in the midwest and is married to her Pastor. They have five adult children and two grandsons and celebrated 34 years of marriage in October. You can also connect with her on Instagram.
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