THE CAVE OF CHRONIC ILLNESS
This cave of chronic illness can feel confining at times, closing in on us like a suffocating blanket. It’s a dark and dismal place where we often feel lost and alone. But the walls gleam with an unexpected supernatural light, for here the gift of hope can be found.
Comfort resides within our bleak or rocky circumstances. Because the presence of Christ makes the cave of obscurity we are in a shrine to grace, a haven of mercy, and an opening for peace. Such gifts are treasures hidden in darkness.
“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness, secret riches; and you will know that I am doing this—I, the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by your name.” (Isaiah 45:3 TLB)
They might take a bit of hunting out on our worst hurting and pain-filled days. But they’re ready to be revealed once we deliberately look for them. God waits for us to call on Him in what often feels like solitary confinement. A prison of pain. A place we would prefer not to linger in. The cave of chronic illness.
GOD WITH US IN THE CAVE OF CHRONIC ILLNESS
Yet Jesus sits in the darkness with us, offering the consolation only He can bring. He gives us reason to believe for better and equips us to live with a more positive mindset. Discouragement might haunt this place but God’s compassion and grace, His infinite kindness and love are the air we breathe.
No weakness we experience can resist His strengthening power even if it comes in tiny, drip-fed increments. No heaviness of spirit is a match for the flare of hope that ignites in a soul surrendered to God. Nothing we go through can compare with the agony Christ suffered on our behalf. He understands and He cares. He is the ever-present God-with-us.
FEAR TRIES TO STEAL HOPE IN OUR CAVE OF CHRONIC ILLNESS
Fear can twist us inside out when we see a hopeful future fading before our eyes. When we grow weaker still and find our previous “normal life” becomes untenable. Or when the doctor’s diagnosis leaves us reeling. Fear shows up when the illness doesn’t go away. When we lose our faculties.
Our projected thoughts make us tremble inside because the outlook seems so poor. Our vision shrinks as we try to assimilate the new way we have to live. We cannot envisage the good if our hearts quake at all the False Evidence Appearing Real which fear brings to mind.
Because we fail to factor in the truth that one person plus God is a majority. Alone, we are left adrift on a sea of uncertainty. With God, we can trust in His loving provision and care, no matter how hard things might be. We might feel like fragile twigs but God promises us this:
“… to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”
(Isaiah 61:3 NIV)
FINDING HOPE IN THE CAVE OF CHRONIC ILLNESS
Left to our own devices, we can drown in discouragement. Leaning on Christ, we learn to stretch our faith for the future as we live in day-tight, moment by moment compartments. He reassures us we are known, seen and loved.
Perhaps you are struggling similarly or know someone who is? A cave of chronic illness obscurity is a tough place to be in but it isn’t a hopeless one when we lean on Jesus. Instead, it becomes a container of holy hope and grace.
Our experiences of dealing with dark times can turn into a testimony to help someone else cope with theirs. And our ability to open up to the Light of Christ is where we begin to be helped and healed of our fears. May you start to see your own circumstances differently as you lean closer on Him.
We so often feel adrift, confined and constrained by having chronic illness. It can be like we are in a cave of obscurity. Help us to sense your presence with us, and open up to hope, especially when we’re struggling, because you turn our darkness into light, deepen our faith, and strengthen and sustain us by your grace. Thank you for the gift of hidden treasure in darkness. May it give us the ability to endure and persevere.
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer and Poet
Joy is a grateful grace dweller, wife, mother, grandma to one beautiful boy, M.E and chronic illness sufferer for over 30 years, and a contemplative poet and devotional writer at poetryjoy.com and joylenton.com. She is the author of Experiencing Lent: Sensing the Sacred in Our Midst, Soul Shots: 31 Days of Pocket Wisdom for Your Hurting Heart, Embracing Hope: Soul Food to Help Chase Away the Blues, and Seeking Solace: Discovering Grace in Life’s Hard Places, and an occasional contributor to the Godspace blog.
Suffering & Joy
Invite a friend or family member to do a 16-Day Suffering & Joy discussion. Or use each quote as a journaling prompt. Each day, read the quote. Talk about it. Think about it. Write about it. Pray about it.