I know that there are many challenges that come with chronic or long term illness. Often the physical pain and suffering, though they are huge, can seem like just a small part of it. All areas of life are affected. Physical suffering causes emotional struggles, which in turn causes more physical pain. Chronic illness creates a great deal of loss in our lives, so there is grief about that. It places more strain and difficulty on relationships, and can be a lonely road to walk. Losing friends is heartwrenching, and the friendships that stick with us are often difficult also, but can become so much more deep and precious. Chronic illness can cause a lot of stress, especially if we are still trying to work and/or study, manage relationships, keep on top of our finances, serve Jesus, and figure out why we are sick and what to do about it, all while dealing with intense physical symptoms and feeling awful day in and day out. This can be overwhelming, and worsen the physical pain as well.
I thought that in this post, I would share with you a very simple yet vital truth to remember, a truth that has carried me (and still does) through many times of crisis and struggle.
There are times when the journey through chronic illness seems very much like the valley of the shadow of death. Everything seems dark around us and we can’t see the steps to take in front of us. In addition to the struggles I mentioned above, there are spiritual battles as we seek to draw near to Jesus, but find His light revealing the dark places in our hearts. Being purified and refined is painful, but so worth it. As if that wasn’t enough, Satan takes advantage of our weakness and mercilessly seeks to destroy our faith and testimony. There is the temptation to give in to feelings of hopelessness and despair, and the temptation to believe the lie that God has forgotten us. The devil is very good at using these times of darkness to tempt us to believe lies and question all we know as true. It’s easy to feel like no one understands, that no one cares, or perhaps to doubt God’s goodness and love and His faithfulness towards us. The lies can scream so loud and everything seems to agree with them, except God’s truth, which nothing seems to agree with.
Oh my friend, this is the time, when fierce testings come, to cling harder than ever to Truth… to cling tightly to Jesus Christ who is Truth in person. Someone once said, “Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.” Truth doesn’t change. He is still the same regardless of our circumstances.
Cling to the promises God gives us in His Word. Think on them and repeat them to yourself over and over. Often just having one line of a verse like “I am with you always,” or “I will fear no evil,” can help so much when your brain is fogged and you feel so weak and helpless against the enemy. Cry out to your Saviour and trust Him to help you.
Out my bedroom window I have a lovely view of the hills in the Yarra Valley. But often on a stormy day the clouds will come so low, or on a winter day the fog be so thick, so as to completely hide the hills from view. Have the hills gone? Has the storm or fog somehow caused them to disappear? Oh no indeed. Many times I have watched as the clouds or fog move away till I can see the hills clearly again. Though I could not see them for a while, they were there all the time.
Sometimes it can feel like God is far away… no, He’s right there with us, carrying us, holding us. The darkness of the storm may hide Him for a time. It is true that we may not feel Him near. However we must not trust in what we can feel, but in what He has said. “Our feelings do not affect God’s facts.”
No matter what you are going through, cling to Him. No matter what your circumstances are, cling to Him. Cling to Him regardless of what you can see or feel. Cling to Him until the storm is past and you “see” Him once more. Trust Him for the strength to cling, and if your strength should fail and you can cling no longer, trust Him to hold on to you. He will never let go of one of His own.
Perhaps there are times, and there have been for me, that the darkness is because I have stumbled in some area. Perhaps I have doubted God’s goodness and love. Perhaps I have given in to discouragement and fear. Perhaps I have stopped trusting Him as I ought. If the devil can get us to doubt God in any way, he has won a big victory. We don’t want to give him that privilege. Jeremiah 17 talkes about how those who don’t trust God dwell in a dry, thirsty land.
“Thus says the Lord : “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”
Perhaps this is where you find yourself just now. If so, come to Him, confess your sin and repent, and He will forgive you. He will enable you to believe the truth and to walk in it. Jeremiah 17 goes on to say that those who trust the Lord will be as a green, fruitful, well watered tree, even in times of drought and hardship.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord [KJV: “whose hope the Lord is”]. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
This is of great comfort to me as I desire my life to be a testimony of Him even in the midst of my trials and pain.
If there are days when you feel able, memorize and write down promises from God’s Word that you can think on in these dark times, or ask someone to write them for you. Put them beside your bed or wherever you can see them easily. When the lies come, you have your weapons ready.
Cling my friend, cling. Cling to the truth of who Jesus is. Trust His love and His care for you. No matter what is going on around you, cling to Jesus and trust Him to cling to you. If there is just one thing that I have learnt from three years of chronic illness it is this: He is always, always faithful.
With love, ❤
Do you feel overwhelmed by the trials in your life?
Are your eyes blinded with tears, no glimpse of hope in sight?
Look up dear soul, look up to Him who is your hope, your light!
Grab hold of Him, He’ll strengthen you, give courage for the fight.
Cling to Jesus, my friend, when the trials come your way
Cling to Jesus, my friend, He is your hope and stay
When the way is dark, the road unknown,
Cling tight to Him alone
For none can tear away, you are His own.
When the unexpected comes your way, bad news or sudden pain
When you wake to find that all has changed, your alls been stripped away
There’s One who longs to be your life, to fill your empty soul
Let the trials draw you to His love, let Him become your all.
Cling to Jesus my friend, when the trials come your way
Cling to Jesus my friend, He is your hope and stay
When the way is dark, the road unknown, cling tight to Him alone
For none can tear away, you are His own.
© Caitlin Mullon 2017