Last week my sister-in-law, Sallie, came home from rehab after her fifth back surgery. For most of her life she had no answers for her health difficulties. Finally, at age fifty they discovered Celiac Disease. Little was known about Celiac then and even the doctors were mostly uneducated about it.


When you have Celiac Disease and live for fifty years eating gluten, your body pays a price. Imagine fifty years of malnutrition without knowing it, causing the bones of a ninety-year-old — brittle and crumbling. The doctors linked my sister-in-law’s Celiac Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis, which both her mother and grandmother suffered.


I remember my mother-in-law lying in bed, moaning. At times, it sounded like rhythmic chanting, and I wondered, if she was on pain meds and resting, why must she moan? Why didn’t she pray? That’s when Sallie gently shared with me that when you live in constant pain, it sometimes gets the best of you and you do other things to take your mind off of it.


I can’t recall how many years my husband’s mother suffered—ten to fifteen, I guess. The Rheumatoid Arthritis came on suddenly, with a vengeance, and spread throughout her body. As time passed, her hands gnarled, her body stooped, her knees swelled, and eventually it became too painful for her to walk.


I saw her independent spirit deal first with questions then anger and finally acceptance. Her spirit grew sweeter and she became even more thankful for the life God had given her.


I do not understand living with constant pain and suffering. What I do know is that God has recently brought more people into my life to help me understand it with greater compassion. It isn’t that I had no compassion, but to see women praise God in the midst of pain and suffering, and to be at peace in their most excruciating times, has made me wonder if they have some special grace from God I don’t.


Sallie shared information about her surgery with family then waited in quiet, her focus on what God was doing in her life, even in the midst of one more surgery. Telling others could have generated more sympathy, but at what cost? Then her focus might have shifted inward instead of staying quietly focused on God.


Whatever happens in Sallie’s life is in God’s hands. She believes He is sufficient always, and though her physical problems could often shift the focus back to herself, she chooses not to let it.


No matter what we go through in life, there are people around us who need to see the light of Christ shining through us, and some need the life-hope we have in us that they know nothing about.


Sallie’s recovery included a few complications, yet still she continued to reach out to others around her daily, showing them compassion and thankfulness, and in her they saw the hint of God. That was worth all her pain.


When we trust God,” Sallie said, “it’s not about us. He invited this into my life.”

Diane Schrauger McElwain

Diane Schrauger McElwain

Diane is the mom of six and Grandma of many. I enjoy spending time with family at the farm, woods, ballgames, or home. When I became a pastor’s wife, my awkward self  learned to open up to all kinds of people. My joy is to keep a sharp eye out – traveling, hiking, and searching for glory in everyday life. I find things we think common and ordinary, are instead miraculous blessings from the Creator designed to give us hope.
Visit Diane at Keep A Sharp Eye.


Don't Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart: How to Relate to Those Who are Suffering

Kenneth C. Haugk, PhD

An essential guide on how to care for and relate to people as they encounter difficult times in life. This book draws on extensive research of those who have experienced various kinds of suffering in their lives, offering key insights and suggestions of what to say and do—and what not to say or do—when people are hurting. With its biblical foundation, compassionate approach, and concrete ideas, this book will help you bring God’s loving presence to hurting people when they need it most.


A Spirituality of Caregiving

Henri J.M. Nouwen

If you provide care for another person, whether you are a family member or a professional caregiver, you know that caregiving is hard, sometimes unappreciated work. But have you ever considered that it isn t easy to be the care receiver?


EMBRACING WORTH: Understanding Your Value in a Life with Chronic Illness

Cindee Snider Re

This 10-chapter study powerfully reminds us that our value isn’t found in what we can or cannot do, but in Christ alone. Regardless of what we’ve lost through chronic illness, this isn’t the end of our story, for in spite of our circumstances, in the midst of the hard, when we’re not sure we can take even one more breath, God is still good.


Creative Sparks for those affected by chronic illness.

Creative Sparks

Creative Sparks invite an exploration of hands, hearts, and stories. Engage your senses, explore your own unique story, and experience God in fresh, new ways as you learn, lean in, and kindle creative joy in midst of chronic illness. 



Creative Ways to Serve

Notecards, Postcards & More

Letter-writing is a vital and life-giving ministry not only to those who are hurting, grieving, recovering, homebound, lonely, ill, depressed, or isolated, but to the writer as well.

Encourage and inspire others by putting #PenToPaper with one (or more!) of our creative notecard or postcard collections. How about tucking one of our professionally printed guides in the envelope?

Support the mission and ministry of Chronic Joy with every purchase from the Chronic Joy Store.

We pray, we serve, we create, we give, and God ignites change one precious life at a time.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share with your friends!