If you read this title and said, “Yeah, me too.” I’m sorry. There is nothing worse than living with or dealing with an illness for a long period. I am sure we all know of people who have been in the hospital for several days with several more to go. It stinks!
I had my first flare and complications with Crohn’s disease in January of 2019. Since then I have fluctuated in weight between 20-40 pounds three different times. I have been in the hospital multiple times. I’ve been sick more than I’ve been well.
This past week I had another colonoscopy and although the majority of my colon is ok, there is five percent that is a MESS! My doctors are determining the best plan of attack and we will see what happens.
I’m not writing this for sympathy or trying to make myself out to be a martyr, I am just letting you know I hate being sick!
How can one rejoice in suffering? How can God receive the glory in Crohn’s, cancer, or even Covid? How can we endure as God’s children in the midst of it? It is only by:
1. God’s Grace
In sickness, grace is power in weakness. That power can be displayed in different ways, but whatever way it is, God should receive the glory (II Cor. 12:7-10).
Sickness can easily change our outlook and ambition. When sickness brings a “new normal” it is very easy to find ourselves depressed and discouraged. You don’t want to get up. You don’t want to go. You don’t want to do anything but sit at home and be sick. You don’t want to see people. When I was sick I didn’t want to see a soul. I just wanted to stay home and in bed. It was hard for me to see healthy people out jogging or walking (which I so desperately would have loved to do) when I could barely go up or down steps.
Grace is greater than feelings of depression, discouragement, and doubt. I don’t need to run. I don’t need to eat whatever I want. I don’t deserve a health pass. All I need is grace. God’s grace in my current sickness allows me to see Christ and not Crohn’s. It also allows Christ to be seen in me.
2. God’s Power
Romans 8:28 is a verse you will hear many times when battling an illness or enduring affliction. It is hard to find the “good” when so much bad is happening. Yet God is working that good through our current weaknesses. He is working His power through me to conform me into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).
I went to Africa and St. Vincent with Crohn’s disease. I’ve preached meetings and weeks of camp with Crohn’s. How? I have no idea!! It was God’s power through me. I knew it was God who gave me the opportunity and it would be God who would get me through. He did and He does.
Power is not just for the big things but often for the little. There have been times I needed His power to make it through the night. By His power, I’ve been able to sit in the living room with my family and enjoy a few hours with them. God’s grace and power allowed me to get up this morning and write this blog.
Yes, we have a future promise it will work together for good, but now we need his present power!
3. God’s Presence
It’s the little things God gives in our sickness that often keep us going. David said, “I would have fainted had I failed to see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”
His presence can be seen through His Word, through a blessing in a time of trouble, or by leading a person to write a note or send a text just when we needed it. His goodness can be seen. even in what seems terrible circumstances.
I needed this colonoscopy as soon as possible. Both of my current doctors were booked until mid-March. I then asked for the original doctor who diagnosed me in 2019. The nurse asked, “How do you know him?” When I explained, she let me know he had an opening in two weeks. This was God’s goodness. 1) Because I had to have it asap, and 2) He not only studied at Harvard, but is the Chair of the Department of Gastroenterology, and Vice-Chair of the Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute at Cleveland Clinic. He is an awesome doc. If there ever was a reason to be excited about a colonoscopy (and there is not) this would be it.
4. A Change in Perspective.
Living in the light of heaven is a wonderful thing. I remember hearing preachers as a kid say things like, “Heaven is going to be great! No more glasses. No more canes. No more hearing aides.” To me at the time that sounded a lot like earth. Not any more. This old body will be perfect. No more sin. No more sorrow. No more pain or sickness. What a day that will be!
Sickness does stink, but God says, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness, Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12: 9).
When we get a handle on this we will one day be able to join David’s song in Psalm 119:71,75: “It was good for me to be afflicted, and in faithfulness, you have afflicted me.”