This summer has been full of bends in the road for me, and as a result, I’ve not been able to blog as consistently (or much at all, really) as I would have loved. With my introverted nature, writing is very refreshing for me, and I’ve dearly missed this beloved outlet.
While I’m working on reorganizing my schedule to allow for more writing and reflection time, my online friend Jana Carlson from Wield the Word graciously offered to guest post for me. And friends, may I just share how much I needed her post? The Lord used her words to minister to my heart in a very needed way. I am certain that her story and the Scripture she shares will bless you, too!
How God’s Word Sustains Me in Chronic Illness by Jana Carlson
When I say God’s Word is life and breath to me, I mean it. I mean it in a physical sense. Countless times I’ve found myself telling others, “I wouldn’t be here without God’s Word.” I honestly don’t know if I could have survived some of the seasons I’ve endured without it.
One of those seasons was about 5 years ago. Within a few short months, I suffered through:
2 chipped teeth leading to 2 root canal surgeries
Debilitating chronic infections of various kinds
Intermittent vertigo, which ultimately led to
A severe concussion after passing out on numerous occasions.
After extensive testing, I was put on bed rest and began a recovery process that took 2 years and led to major life changes. Today, I still struggle with chronic adrenal fatigue and anemia.
My Health Crisis Becomes a Spiritual Crisis
To say those 2 years in recovery were difficult would be an understatement. I went through an identity crisis. All the things I’d been doing before were no longer doable for me and I wondered who I was.
What is my purpose?
Of what value am I if I can’t contribute to those around me?
How can being a burden to others glorify God?
The isolation of my recovery became dangerous. In the solitude, the only voice I heard was my own. On my darkest days, the enemy of our souls whispered lies. My weakened condition left me vulnerable, susceptible to his deception. Slowly, I slipped into depression.
God’s Word Rescued Me
God’s Word rescued me. As I read and listened to the Bible, my mind was renewed. I began to recognize the lies of the enemy. By God’s grace, I chose to believe that what God says is True.
When I was frustrated by my illness and my circumstances, waiting for things to change, trying to understand it all and figure everything out, Proverbs 3:5-6 reminded me that my trust was misplaced.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
And he will make straight your paths.”
(Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)
When I became discouraged by my weakness, God’s Word shifted my perspective.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10b, ESV)
When I got tired of resting, of doing nothing, of feeling useless because of my inability to “do things” for Jesus, His Word changed my understanding of what really pleases God. (Hint: It’s not “doing all the things” or appearing “spiritual” on the outside while being far from Him on the inside.)
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, ESV, emphasis mine)
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b, ESV)
I felt understood by Psalm 61:2.
“When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
(Psalm 61:2, NKJV)
The fact that God included this verse in Scripture tells me that He knew we would be overwhelmed sometimes. He remembers that we are human, that we are “but dust” (Psalm 103:14), that we are weak. And He loves us as we are. He is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
“You have kept count of my tossings;
Put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?”
(Psalm 56:8, ESV)
God cares. He sees each tear that falls. He included this Scripture because He knew we’d cry. He planned ahead to provide us precious words of comfort. And gives us freedom to be real, to pour our hearts out to Him with all the raw emotion we possess.
I’m encouraged by Lamentations 3:22-24 which reminds us that God’s mercies are new every morning. He is faithful. Our sufferings will not consume us.
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I hope in Him!’”
(Lamentations 3:22-24, NKJV)
God’s Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12). He gave it to us to accomplish His purpose in us (Isaiah 55:11). It changes us. It acts.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV)
From Suffering to Freedom
My season of stillness became a season of spiritual transformation. As God slowly healed my body, He also did a healing work in my heart.
He convicted me of sinful attitudes and unhealthy mindsets.
He showed me how I’d been finding my identity in “doing” instead of “being”.
He comforted me and encouraged me and strengthened me.
Chronic illness has given me freedom. Through this struggle, God has shown me the blessing of my weakness. He continues to teach me to be humble, to embrace vulnerability, to admit my need and receive the blessing He has for me. I’ve learned to lament - to acknowledge the harsh realities instead of denying them, and then to remind myself of the reality of Christ.
Dear sister in Christ, if you find yourself in that place of forced rest today, suffering through illness and confronted by your weakness, my encouragement to you is this:
If you do nothing else today, spend some time in God’s Word and allow Him to:
renew Your mind,
restore your soul,
revive your spirit,
comfort your hurting heart, and
strengthen your weary body.
“The law of the Lord is perfect,
Reviving the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure,
Making wise the simple;
The precepts of the Lord are right,
Rejoicing the heart…”
(Psalm 19:7-8a, ESV, emphasis mine)
I’m praying for you. May our faithful Father minister His peace, assurance, and comfort to you today in the midst of your suffering. You are loved, dear one.
Jana Carlson has an insatiable love for the Word of God. She blogs at Wield The Word where her desire is to inspire women to know God’s Word and live it out.
Jana lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and their 3 grown children. She works as a content creator and enjoys reading, breathing in the fresh mountain air, and spending time with family and friends.