It’s hard to find positivity, happiness, or joy with the hardships of chronic illness. There is so much we have to do day-to-day to keep the pain levels low while still living life and meeting the demands of mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, or other relationship in life. How are we to do all of that and still find joy with chronic illness?
I’m sure you know someone with a chronic illness or even have one yourself. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all adults live with one or more chronic health conditions (“Chronic Disease Overview”, May 3, 2016). It’s a staggering statistic, but it doesn’t include children and cases that are not reported or overlooked. Is there hope for us to find that joy? There is. Laurie, from God-Living with Chronic Illness, is here to share her thoughts about how to find joy with chronic illness.
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After nine years of living with chronic illness and pain, I have realized the need for acceptance. Acceptance of my limitations, acceptance of a life I never expected, acceptance of the loss of some of my dreams, and eventually, acceptance of the pain itself. After 9 years of trying to rid myself of it, I am beginning to realize and accept that this illness and pain might not go away, and that is okay.
To help me on this journey, God recently showed me the newly published book called, Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver.
The giveaway to win this book is located at the bottom of this post.
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Sara had ankylosing spondolytis, an autoimmune disorder that resulted in degeneration of her spine and daily, intense pain. The medications required to manage the pain caused other numerous health issues. After almost 2 decades of living with this condition, Sara passed away in 2009.
In the last few years of her life, Sara was confined to her home and became a regular blogger. Her beautiful philosophies of life and illness were preserved and her story retold in the book, Choose Joy, by her friend, Mary Carver.
Sara’s decision to choose gratitude and faith in God despite intense pain, breathing difficulties, and complete confinement to her home, enabled her to have peace and joy in spite of it all. Her perspective is reflected well in her belief that God was using her illness for His glory even if she couldn’t see it at the time.
“I know that if God didn’t have a purpose for my illness, He would have taken it away from me by now….I’m okay with not knowing why this is happening to me because I know He knows why. It’s not about me; it’s about what He can do with me. My job is simply to pay attention [in the rainstorms] and enjoy the rainbows.” –Sara Frankl, Choose Joy
Sara found this inner strength and joy as she chose to focus on the promises of God and the blessings in her life. Pain tries to convince us that we have no blessings, but that is simply not true. It is up to us to recognize that the blessings are there, and then to focus on them instead of the difficulty. Sara knew this was true, and each day she made a purposeful choice to live with gratitude.
“I choose the joy. When something is going badly and I’m dwelling on it, I think instead of something for which I am grateful…. It’s just as simple as that. You just have to decide today, and again tomorrow. And before you know it, you’ll have an attitude of joy.” -Sara Frankl, Choose Joy
The same can be true for me and you, too. This isn’t the life you planned, but this is the life you have been given. As you accept it and focus your eyes on Jesus, you also will experience joy.
Perhaps the most beautiful promise on which we can focus is that someday, we won’t even remember the suffering we endured in this life. The Bible says, that if we believe in Jesus and accept His gift of salvation, we will be in a much better place after we die. A place where there where there will be no more pain. No more death. Only joy. Pure joy.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne [of God in heaven] saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV, parenthetical additions added by the author for clarification)
Laurie Miller is a wife, mom, nurse, and patient with fibromyalgia. She works as an inpatient educator at a local hospital, and enjoys blogging to encourage others with chronic illness at God-livingwithchronicillness.
Enter the giveaway to win Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. US residents only. No purchase necessary.
There are more giveaways to enter, product reviews, personal success stories, articles about fibromyalgia organizations, and other online events throughout the month of May! Check them out here.
- Chronic Disease Overview. (2016). Retrieved May 03, 2016, from https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/