Chronic Illness and Love in Real-Time

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By: Jana Greene

“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.” – Matthew 10:28 (MSG)

This past week has been a rough one.

I’m sick again, pretty super awful sick. And the medicine is so powerful it is almost making me feel worse. Almost. There is no choice not to take it, unless I prefer having it administered via IV at a hospital. With my immune system, I’d be terrified to set foot in a hospital, or even the gift shop. No thank you very much.

It feels like this may be the straw that broke the camel’s back, or at least made the camel exclaim “OY! What a headache!”

My husband, who lovingly takes care of me when I’m sick or depressed or a combination thereof. God bless that man, he has been encouraging me through my health issues for ten years now. I keep expecting him to say, “Dude, this is one too many issues. I didn’t sign up for this.”

But he never does. He says my issues are his issues –  and vice versa – and that he signed up for being with me, WHATEVER that looks like, period. He is very resolute about that. We are a very affectionate couple, but he holds me extra when I’m feeling broken.

I’ve come to understand that that’s what love looks like in real-time. It doesn’t catch you on the rare occasion you have the sniffles or break a bone. It’s not a part-time endeavor.

You see, love isn’t looking for an out. It’s always looking for an in.

“This too shall pass,” My Beloved said to me yesterday. And I nodded in agreement because, yes, it shall. There is no doubt.

But in my weary state of this illness, I wondered aloud what would come next.

This illness was preceded in short order by the flu (thanks a lot flu shot), on the heels of a year of the worst migraines of my life, on the heels of chronic sinus infections and UTIs,  having had major surgery last July and all the healing from several bouts with (and I am not making this up) Cat Scratch Fever, and the cherry on top that is chronic fatigue. And a generous dollop of anxiety and depression just to keep things interesting.

So yes, I know this too shall pass. But what’s following it? I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy, honestly. I just feel beat to the ground and want the chance to stand up and fight without the constant overlap of health issues slamming me back to the ground before I can even get footing.

I’ve stopped asking for prayer on social media because really, it’s just been one thing after another, and I don’t want people rejecting God because they don’t see my healing.

So I find myself here, in this place of wanting to tell the world how loving my God is, yet concerned that seekers might not really want what I’ve got, if it means being sick.

But how cocky is THAT thought? That people won’t reach out to my God if I’m transparent about my life and health? God has been doing the God thing far before any of us came to be.

I don’t believe he causes suffering.

I do believe he allows us to experience it.

I believe in 100% healing; I’ve seen it happen many times. But I’ve also been browbeaten by other Christians for not receiving my healing instantly, as if it were a matter of faith or lack thereof. I cannot express how damaging that is to someone who is suffering. Calling into question their faith when they are already hurting is adding the worst kind of insult to injury. “Name it and Claim it” theology takes one very important consideration out of the picture:

That God is sovereign.

And that if he allows us to suffer, he WILL USE that experience to further his Kingdom and to benefit another of his children who will hurt in exactly the way you are hurting now. The more a situation sucks, the more impact your testimony can make to another life. God wastes no hurt.

Sometimes I remind God that I didn’t sign up for this.

“I’m REALLY FRUSTRATED,” I tell him. Often.

“I know, Kiddo,” my spirit hears him soothe.

He reminds me that no matter how my body hurts or fails or frustrated, he will never leave or forsake me. He is in it with me for the long run, WHATEVER that looks like.

Whatever is next, God is already there. The potential for physical maladies are legion, and these Earth Suits we have wear out and down. All of them will fail. We are specifically reminded NOT to allow fear to bully us into making our physical bodies the focus of our lives, but to making our core beings a home to Holy Spirit.

What can man do to me? What can ill health do to me, ultimately? I know the end of the story. My soul is redeemed, perfect and whole in Christ. No matter how many health struggles I endure. So many people are hurting so much worse than I am. I pray for them as well. God help us all – broken bodies and minds and spirits.

So today as I lay in bed, uncomfortable and grumpy and generally out of sorts, I share my frustration with you so that perhaps you are reminded too – you are not alone. Your issue or worry is very real and is not going unnoticed by God. Ask him to hold you. Implore him to not let this experience go to waste. He will take it from there.

That’s what love looks like in real-time. It doesn’t catch you on the rare occasion you have the sniffles or break a bone.The love of God is not an incomplete work. He isn’t deterred by a little Negative Nancy bouts of  frustration. His love isn’t a part time endeavor.

He is very resolute about that. It doesn’t mean I will not get sick. It does mean he holds me extra when I feel broken. It’s okay to hurt, and trust, and mourn, and trust some more.

You see, love isn’t looking for an out.

It’s always looking for an in.

God bless us – the sick and the sad and the struggling.
God bless us, every one.

 

 

 

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