I’ve been thinking a lot about illness lately and how life can change in a moment. As I type, my mother in law is still very ill, recovering from a serious stroke and dealing with debilitating headaches that won’t give her any relief.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for those with long term illness, perhaps because of my nieces and nephew Bailey, Noah and Addy who all had/have special needs.
When my sister’s first child was diagnosed with Campomelic Dysplasia, I remember reading two things: Not by Chance: Learning to Trust a Sovereign God and the book of Job. I wanted to know why God allowed bad things to happen to good people. I mean, why was my sister’s baby going to die when they wanted children so badly and were serving God with their lives? These were the good people. And why were other babies perfectly healthy only to be born to negligent mothers or worse, moms who would choose to abort them? I needed answers.
Elizabeth Johnson is guest posting today and talking about her new book Touching the Hem. It is a thoroughly Biblical study on life-altering, long-term illness.
If you are in ministry, you need to read this book. It will help you to comfort someone later on and assure them that God has not forgotten them!
If you have long-term illness, you need to read this book. It will give you hope on days when you feel like your life has taken an unexpected, unplanned detour and you are suddenly along for a ride you never wanted.
Elizabeth has graciously allowed me to give away one free copy of this book. Please comment on this post to win. Tell me one way you plan to bless those who are ill or dealing with long term illness. Easy Peasy!
Being diagnosed with a long-term illness (or life-changing injury) may feel like a death sentence. You may feel like your social life is over, like you can’t make any meaningful contributions to society, like you can’t do anything anymore.
But it’s not a death sentence! Your life is not over. You’re simply being redirected.
So maybe you have to quit that job, shift your priorities, and figure out a new normal. Maybe you can no longer volunteer everywhere, or even leave home very easily. But you can still contribute. You can still make a difference.
–> Stop focusing on what you used to do, and learn what you can do right now. Look for ways to minister where you are right now.
Remember, you were wonderfully fashioned by the Creator of the universe, and no physical affliction can negate that. He knows your limitations. He knows your weaknesses. And yet He can use you, not just despite, but even because of those limitations.
So take advantage of your unexpected down-time by learning a new hobby, something you can do by yourself in the comfort of your own home. And pray about using that hobby as a ministry! For instance, I discovered card-making after my own diagnosis, and started sending them to others who needed encouragement. It gives me a way to feel useful, and at the same time it provides great encouragement to others.
–> Maintain an active prayer life. Pray for others, and ask others to pray for you.
Even the most disabled person can have a fruitful ministry of intercession! You may be blind, deaf, paralyzed, bed-ridden, or disabled in some other way: but you can still pray. You can bring the needs of others before the throne of grace. In fact, some of the greatest prayer warriors are often those who are house-bound or bed-ridden, because they have so much alone time – so much time to spend communing with the One who never leaves nor forsakes us.
And ask others to pray for you: let them know specifically how to pray for you, so they can help carry your burdens before God’s throne. You see, we are commanded to bear each other’s burdens… and if you refuse to let anyone bear your burdens, then you are actually withholding that blessing from them! Not to mention, God may do mighty things through their prayers for you!
–> Stay in God’s Word. Read and meditate on it daily.
If you can’t read it yourself, then listen to Scripture on cd or online. Get it in your mind. The more familiar you become with Scripture, the easier it will be to remember in times of trouble. The psalmist recognized this, when he declared, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
Post favorite Scripture verses around your house, where you’ll see them frequently. Post a verse card on the mirror, to meditate on while you brush your teeth. If you usually wash dishes, put an index card with a favorite verse right by the sink. If you drive, put a verse card on your steering wheel or dashboard. Use this method to help you memorize God’s Word: the more you see it, the easier it will be to remember. And knowing those verses can be such a comfort when you are too sick to actually read.
–> Keep a journal of God’s provisions and blessings.
If your body feels miserable, your spirit will feel miserable. But you can take steps to fight that misery! Keeping a blessings book, or thankfulness list, is a simple way to stay focused on the positive: on what you do have, rather than what you’ve lost.
Take a minute each evening to write down just a few ways you saw God’s provision, faithfulness, love, or mercy during the day. Do it for a week, and it will start to become a habit. Do it for a month, and you’ll find yourself noticing God’s blessings more than your limitations.
A journal like that also provides a great reminder when you have a flare-up or just an extra-bad day. If you feel down in the dumps, or whiny, or just plain blah!, you can look back at a written record of God’s provision for you personally. That’s a great way to start feeling better!
Your body may be worn out, run down, and broken.
But your spirit doesn’t have to follow suit!
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With just a little effort, you can have true peace in your spirit, despite your physical turmoil. You can find purpose, in learning to minister right where you are. You can find joy, in staying focused on Giver and Sustainer of life.
Find more practical suggestions for dealing with illness in Elizabeth Johnson’s new book, Touching the Hem: a Biblical Response to Physical Suffering, which she wrote out of her own personal experience with chronic illness. For more about the book, visit www.touchingthehembook.com.
If you have any questions or comments, Elizabeth would love to hear from you! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.
Leave your comment below to enter to win an autographed copy of Touching the Hem.
The giveaway ends June 25th, 12 PM EST. Winner will be chosen randomly using our handy-dandy wooden bowl drawing. Winner will be contacted via email. Continental US only.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.