LABELS HAUNT US
“Limited, weak, and dependent.”
All words that follow someone with chronic illness.
These labels haunt us. We hear it in the tone of someone trying to be supportive but instead is condescending. We see it in an eye roll when our name comes up on the church prayer list repeatedly, and we feel it when dismissed or called a hypochondriac by those unwilling to understand. Most people, from acquaintances to loved ones, genuinely have compassion and sincerely want to help. However, when those judgments come, the hurt goes deep because, usually, we’ve already placed those labels on ourselves.
There are days when we feel useless and purposeless, like a parasite on society and a burden to our loved ones. It’s a lie the enemy whispers in our ear, hoping to crush our spirits and keep us in self-pity. The Bible says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
It’s easy to be trapped by our physical or mental roadblocks and focus on what we can’t do. We see other spouses, parents, and ministry leaders juggling their various tasks and envy their abilities and accomplishments. We see ourselves as failures and inadequate. It’s a crippling attitude that only leaves us defeated and feeling hopeless. So how do we stop this and bring ourselves into a healthier mindset? The world’s solution says to empower ourselves by changing our perspective and focusing on all the things we can do.
CHOSEN AND BELOVED
However, I do not believe this is what the Bible teaches. Paul tells us in Philippians that “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13) It’s such a relief and encouragement to meditate on this verse and rest in its truth. It reminds me that it is God in me who directs His good and perfect will, accomplishing what He desires. All achievements result from God’s workmanship in our lives, not from our willpower, positivity, or abilities. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4)
Remembering that our identity lies in Christ, who calls us “chosen,” “beloved,” and “His heirs” allows us to shift our gaze from our weaknesses to Jesus. Clinging to who He is, what He’s done, and who He says we are, is the real solution to the problem.
Over the years, God has been working in my heart, chipping away at my pride and teaching me to trust in His Sovereignty, which opens up a whole new world for those of us struggling with chronic illness.
It gives us the power to dream!
Adoptive parent. Successful author. Missionary. Business owner. Public speaker.
THE JOY OF GOD DREAMS
These are just some of the dreams I get giddy about in my quiet times with God. My husband and I like to set aside a few days every year to pull out our God Dreams, pray over them, and create more. We also plan the next tangible steps to achieving these goals, keeping one another accountable. Recently, I had the joy of realizing one of my longstanding God Dreams of becoming a published writer when my work was published in a Christian women’s magazine with several other doors opening as well. It’s been incredible to see my small steps of faith and obedience paving the way to serve God through my writing.
When we start to realize that God’s plans for our lives are not dependent on our physical or mental capacities, we close the door of defeat and open the door of possibility.
What dreams or goals linger in your heart that you can’t seem to shake? Do you have a talent that might not be wholly refined but that you’ve always wanted to pursue?
If you knew you couldn’t fail, what is one thing you’ve always wanted to do? If those dreams are in line with Scripture, I believe those desires are God Dreams, placed in you by the Spirit to glorify God and advance His Kingdom.
HE MAKES THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE
As someone who struggles to remember these truths every day, I want to encourage you to hold tight to your dreams. Don’t let fear, doubt, or complacency keep you from the abundant life God wants for you. Remember that God will complete the good work He has started in you.
He is waiting for you to turn from despair over your illness and limitations to belief that He makes the impossible possible.
Some might doubt our ability to do much because of chronic illness, but therein lies the beauty. If we could accomplish our God Dreams on our own, we wouldn’t need God! We see His Hand at work every day. The size of our obstacles means nothing to our mighty God. If He can get us through the intricate details of chronic illness, He can certainly take us to the mountaintops.
God wants us to dream! He wants us to trust that He is limitless, and to have faith to reach for the impossible. Hope, faith, trust, and obey are not easy words, but Jesus is the One who carries the heavy load.
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer
Erin is a grateful follower of Jesus, navigating the different stages of life through the eyes of chronic illness. She has a passion for empowering others by encouraging them to trust God even in the most difficult of circumstances. Erin and her husband (along with their two young boys) are purposeful and passionate in living out their faith and loving their neighbors. Her other passions include freelance writing, loom knitting, and fishing!
Building Your Bucket List
A bucket list is an invitation to dream with God. Ideas don’t have to be grand or extravagant. Sometimes the best adventures happen right in our own backyards. It’s also an opportunity to invite friends and loved ones to have rich conversations about their dreams.