Devotion: Never Let Your Youth (or Years!) Discourage You
Posted Dec 01 2011 10:00am
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. . . Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” (1 Timothy 4:12,14)
When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis I was just 24 years old and when I began Rest Ministries I was 26. I could not easily find young adults who lived with chronic illness each day, but I also was unable to find a ministry that was specifically for those with chronic illness.
Wow, how the Internet has changed so many things! Now the idea of an “invisible illness” is not something unusual to hear of, but a popular “keyword” in search engines. The theology that those of us with illness are not always healed, but sometimes called to suffer for Christ can be found in thousands and thousands of blogs. It is so encouraging to see so many young women and men who are expressing their love of Jesus as well as their difficult sufferings. They hurt. . . and love God anyway! When Rest Ministries first went online in 1996 it was nearly impossible to find websites that spoke of God’s mercy within our pain.
In fact, I was berated by many who told me I was not doing the Lord’s work since I didn’t tell people that everyone could be healed. Well, everyone can be healed. Not everyone is healed on this side of heaven. I learned when to step away from the computer without shedding tears over mean remarks. I knew God knew.
Somehow, I felt God leading me to begin this ministry, even though I had so many flaws.
If you consider yourself young (and it’s all a matter of attitude, right?), allow me to encourage you that when people ask you, “And how old are you exactly?” Don’t be discouraged! Your experiences in the school of suffering have caused you to have many sleepless nights, but also wisdom way beyond the years of one who has not suffered. God feels that you (yes, you!) can set an example in faith. . . in love . . .in your speech and purity–your life!
Did you know that wisdom does not actually come with age? It is not automatically a part of our birthday gift each year. It comes with the willingness to look at that which you have endured and listen to how God is using it to speak to you–and at times, speak through you
Your illness may and likely will cause you many painful moments when you feel isolated, alone, even defeated. However, always remember, you have a gift! Do not ever allow your gift to sit idle because you feel you are too young or ill-equipped to represent the Lord well. Like it or not, you have been chosen to have this gift. God will equip you with whatever it is you need to use your gift. Now it’s is up to you to decide what to do with it.
Prayer: Lord, remind me that my pain and suffering does have a purpose and that it is a gift. I can choose to hide this gift or share it with others. Regardless of my age, give me the assurance that I am humbly in the middle of Your will, even when I feel in over my head, as it’s not about me and my abilities, Lord, but about You.
About the Author
Lisa Copen is an author, speaker, and the founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill. She lives in San Diego with her husband and 8-year-old son. She is currently writing a book for Christian moms who live with chronic illness. If you are interested in sharing your stories, feedback and confessions for the book, visit her Facebook page at http://MomWithIllness.com .
Did you feel a calling at a young age to something you believed God wanted you to do? What advice would you give someone in his or her twenties or thirties who felt a calling, but also a bit overwhelmed by it all?.