Gratitude can be a challenging word when chronic illness is our constant companion. Preparing for and being with family and friends is a gift, but it is also a drain on already low energy reserves. Inevitably, I will be more unwell or in a flare during or immediately after holiday gatherings and celebrations, causing me sit on the sidelines of these events. Yet while I may not participate in traditional, expected, or even hoped for ways, I am offered a different gift, the Holy Spirit’s prompting to pray for those I love and for those who are harder for me to love.
As I prayed through and about Philemon 1:4, I thought about Paul, who wrote this verse, about his life and ministry as a person with a thorn, which many think was some form of chronic illness. Paul changed the world when his lens was altered by his physical limitations. God not only used Paul’s illness and grew his prayer life, but He did so much more in, with and through Paul’s weakness, for in weakness, it is God’s strength that shines through.
The thing that struck me most powerfully is not that you and I are invited to pray, but that Jesus speaks the words of Philemon 1:4 over each of us. Stop for a moment. Slowly read this verse again, hearing Jesus speak these words over you:
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers.
Whatever excitement, sadness, joy, or challenge we face this time of year, Jesus is right there with us – Emmanuel – God with us – experiencing everything with us, giving thanks to the Father for us, and interceding on our behalf. That is hope, Friends, and true encouragement. Jesus cares for every single detail of our lives.
This month, let the word gratitude remind you that Jesus is grateful for you always interceding on your behalf.
Emmanuel – God with us, what an amazing gift You are! Teach us to be grateful for You and for those around us. This time of year is full, sometimes too full. We want to experience the gift of You in each moment. Help us to be fully present. Help us when we are not well enough to be part of the festivities, and when we are, for there is a cost for both. Remind us to be thankful for the opportunity to pray for those around us, and to know that You are in prayer for us.
Be of special comfort to those in our community and families who are homebound, hospitalized, or too sick to be able in join in community and celebration with friends and family.
This month, we are:
- Praying for those in our community who are experiencing a flare, a loss, or who are grieving.
- Praying for our 40 Days of Hope: An Email Devotional, that people would join in the journey and be encouraged.
- Thankful for all our Heavenly Father has done and is doing in and through the ministry of Chronic Joy.
- Praying for all those affected by chronic physical and mental illness.
- Praying over the prayer requests received from our community.
Prayer is the heartbeat of Chronic Joy Ministry. We are always honored and blessed to pray for you.
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Executive Director and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy®
Pamela is a leader and a visionary following God's call to inspire those affected by chronic illness to discover hope, find purpose, embrace worth and encounter joy. She believes that every precious life affected by chronic illness is both vital and purposed.
Pamela is the mom of three married children, grandma of two sweet granddaughters and one baby grandson, and a wife of more than 30 years. She is diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos, chronic migraines and a host of other chronic conditions.
Pamela enjoys hot tea, reading -- almost always more than one book at a time -- and walking her teddy bear dog, Cocoa.