Finding Christ in the Struggle: Encouragement for Those With Chronic Illness

Day 1 of 7 • This day’s reading

Devotional

 “Ugh. Nope. I don’t have it in me,” I thought but, “Absolutely! I’d love to,” flew out my mouth. 


I committed to 10 hours of caring for half a dozen preschoolers–enough to wear anyone out. Not to mention someone with irreversible brain and spinal damage. It took two weeks to recover, leaving me wondering why I committed to it to begin with. 


Meditating on Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, I was drawn to his description of a thorn in his flesh. One that tormented him, a depiction that resonates with me as I struggle with chronic illness (2 Corinthians 12:7-8, NIV).


When I read his statement regarding the strength he had in Christ, I’d highlight and rewrite the phrases, “My power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV).


There’s that burdensome word–weakness. It carries a stigma in society I’ve personally struggled with. 


When I was working, as an employee, we’d list our strengths and weaknesses, recognizing everyone has areas where they "dominate" that coexist with areas where they’re most fragile. Able-bodied people may not have as many physical struggles as those with disabilities but they still have weaknesses.


Because my diagnosis had made me extra sensitive to the word, I’d overextend myself, adding to my pain and stealing time from people and things I hold dear.


Why is the word weakness so taboo? It doesn’t equate to defeat or mean we’ve given up fighting. Instead, it can lead to Christ showcasing His power. Chronic illness already complicates our lives and has enough side effects. Don’t add to it by ignoring warning signs calling for rest. When we do, we miss opportunities to demonstrate the might and strength of Jesus. 


Be confident in your “yes” and remain strong in your “no” when you don’t feel up to a task. By doing so, you’ll not only grow spiritually but you’ll preserve your physical strength for what God has called you to and will equip you for.