Our Suffering of Illness is Meant to Go Far Beyond Just Us
Posted Oct 29 2010 7:00am
By Diane Bucknell
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
During our sojourn on this earth we all end up experiencing the physical and mental consequences of a fallen world. Even the healthiest people eventually realize the effects of an aging and frail body. Sickness or injuries, possibly even ones that are life threatening, are common to all, and usually there is a full recovery.
However, it’s when we never recover that we enter into a completely different realm of living. The life we once knew may never be the same again. Our days may consist of pain management, or carefully guarding our emotional state. Perhaps our energy and strength has been compromised to the point that we can no longer engage in our occupation or domestic duties. We may have to prioritize what we spend our energy on, just to accomplish the bare essentials. We may even find ourselves completely dependent upon others for our care.
Perhaps your condition is invisible and you look terrific on the outside but are falling apart on the inside. If this describes you, you have may have experienced being misunderstood and possibly judged by others. Perhaps even your own doctor or family members do not really understand what you struggle with and you find yourself having to convince them that you’re not merely lazy or a malingerer. You might have even encountered some Christians who believe that your are sick as a result of sin, or a lack of faith. For a Christian who is trying to maintain a close walk with Christ in spite of such difficulty this council can be especially cruel, not to mention unbiblical.
If you can relate to these things then I’m guessing that you probably don’t like to talk it about it except to a select few. Not only do you not want to be a “Debbie Downer” to those around you, but you also don’t want to focus on something that can easily begin to define your existence. Even though the burden you bear may be your constant companion, it is still NOT you.
Even though the burden you bear may be your constant companion, it is still NOT you.
I have lived with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Thyroid disease for nearly half of my life. I also deal with the residual effects of a broken neck resulting from a car accident when I was 20. When my 3 children were young I became disabled very suddenly. One day I was a busy stay-at-home mom with a full schedule of church and social activities and the next I was so ill I could barely raise my head off the pillow. After several months with no improvement and a multitude of tests I was diagnosed with Chronic Epstein Barr Virus Syndrome.
The doctor said I would be better in 18 months. Having a young family to care for, that pronouncement was devastating. Little did I know it would be 10 years before I would feel reasonably well again and by that time the children were grown. I was bedridden most of the time for the first several years and depended on my family to help me with the normal daily activities like shopping and housework. My only outings for the first 2 years were to the doctor for weekly treatments. There were many times that I didn’t know how I could survive one more day of being so sick.
But God was near to me in a very special way during those dark times as the days, months, and years drug on with little improvement. Even though I have been blessed with the most loving husband a woman could ever hope for, only God Himself could comfort me in my distress.
Psalm 27:13-14 was my lifeline of hope which I clung to daily:
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see
the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.”
When God does one thing, He’s doing many things at the same time.
Affliction drives us to dependence: “My eye has wasted away because of affliction; I have called upon You every day, O LORD” Psalm 88: 9.
Affliction drives us to obedience: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.” Psalm 119:67.
Affliction purifies us: “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.” Psalm 66:10
Affliction is humbling: ” for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself!” 2 Corinthians 12:7
And suffering is not just all about us. There are purposes that reach beyond our own sanctification. Because of our affliction we can bring glory to God by comforting others who suffer similarly. Truly, no one can minister to another quite like one who has walked that path and has learned the secret of knowing how to do all things through Christ who strengthens us. If this post rings true for you, I pray that God will bless you today with the special grace needed to endure. Look to Him because our great Savior has also walked the path of sorrow and pain and understands our infirmities.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Diane Bucknell came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior at the age of 20. She resides in Carson City, Nevada with her husband Robert. They been married for 36 years and have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. They own Bucknell Arts, a fine art and mural painting business.
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