A Sacred Journey Through Suffering: Clinging to God Through Chronic Illness

CJHabakkuk318Five years have passed since the words, “No cure,” were spoken to me. Five years since I moved from independent to dependent, stripped of self-reliance and the illusion of control, the first of the hardest days of my life with a complicated chronic illness.

My days became about survival and overcoming anxiety. Any resemblance of my former life shattered around me. The definitive line that marked before and after the diagnosis had been drawn and I needed to find a way to navigate this side of it.

How does one survive such a change? I had plenty of time lying on the bed to ponder these things; I wanted to thrive and not merely survive.

I needed a lifeline, and not just any lifeline, but an anchor to hold me in place when I felt as if I was flailing about.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” Hebrews 6:19 (CSB)

I could have hope in the midst of the hopelessness. I could have firm footing in my ever-spinning world. I could feel secure despite the unknown and unfamiliar.

Grasping these things was not easy, it took every ounce of intentionality I could scrape up. There are days I’ve done it well and others, not so much.

Years prior to this, I had been rebuilding a broken faith, having lived years separated from God. I never wanted to go back to the wasteland of living separate from Him. I daily prayed the words of Habakkuk.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though the flocks disappear from the pen and there are no herds in the stalls, yet I will celebrate in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! The Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!” Habakkuk 3:17-19 (CSB)

Little did I know, God was preparing me for what was to come by investing in His Word–helping me gather up treasures from Heaven to hold in the jagged edges of my days.

As a former long-distance runner, I now see this journey as my wilderness marathon, the most important run of my life.

I am housebound, unable to drive, and some days I am unable to hold up my head. In my weakness, I dig deep into His Word, my entire being dependent on God’s provision. He provides words of comfort in the ordinary, quiet days. He provides banana bread and soup through the hands of precious friends. He summons cardinals to dance around the bird feeder, and shows me a nest of three tiny eggs with Mama Wren peering at me through the glass.

It is here, in the midst of my wilderness marathon, I have fallen in love with God all over again. As I am physically falling apart, He is transforming me, renewing my mind and the spirit within me even in my weakness.

Though this is the hardest area of my life, it has also become the sweetest place with God.

There are still days of temper tantrums before the Lord, days of foot-stomping and ugly tears. There are nights I cry out for relief from my pain, but He is with me. He meets me where I am.

I have found a sacred holiness with God as I move through my days. It is the sacred holiness that makes living this side of my life worth every hard moment.


IMG_0602.jpgTAMMY MASHBURN is a writer who suffers from the chronic neurological disease, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a form of Dysautonomia Disorder and bone degeneration.

Once a runner, Tammy refers to her journey as The Wilderness Marathon. On this journey, she longs to encourage you in your own race.

Writing from a place of chronic pain and difficulties in her everyday ordinary mundane, Tammy abides in and relies on her deep relationship with Jesus Christ and is committed to sharing her gifts of grace.

Tammy lives with her husband of thirty plus years, who is often referred to as her Sweet Man, and one furry friend, Lola. They live in their Wilderness Place in the foothills of beautiful South Carolina.

Tammy’s passion is encouraging women. She does this by teaching Sunday School and leading a women’s small group, as a women’s ministry leader, and through connecting with others at tammylmashburn.com.

Chronic Illness

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Radical hope. Compassionate change. Equipping those affected by chronic physical and mental illness through community and education rooted in Jesus Christ.

5 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Oh Tammy I am so thankful to find your words here! You always bring such encouragement to hold onto HOPE. This Christmas some new friends crafted a Christmas Present for us that is nail art in the shape of an anchor. They could not have known how special that symbol is, for one who walks through chronic illness and pain. Thank you for reminding me of that again today also: We do have this hope as an anchor for our souls. Blessings to you!

  2. I can relate to your story Tammy, their are aspects that hint at parts of my story too especially the Lords sustaining in chronic illness….

    You are most welcome to drop by with your favorite beverage & treat of deliciousness & join me in a time of reflection together…
    Jennifer

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