God does not need us to be in a state of wellness to be a force of righteousness! (Erin Burkhardt)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)


Chronic illness can move in a cycle, starting in a place of wellness or stability, experiencing a physical or emotional crash, then journeying back to a healthy place. This cycle, repeated frequently over months and years, can be discouraging. It can leave us wondering what the point of our life really is. We ask ourselves, “How can I do anything worthwhile or get ahead if I am always falling down and having to pick myself up?”

This question festered in my heart as I found myself on yet another trip to the hospital. I had survived the dreaded pandemic virus, but now I needed the emergency aid of doctors once again.

As I’ve done countless times, I walked into the hospital and took a seat. Over the next several hours, I fought my discouragement and thought of my family, who once again had to see me in a state of sickness. I thought of my body that once again would be poked and prodded. All I could see was me as a sick person, trapped and with no purpose other than to cause worry and burden.

However, while I wallowed, God was creating a way to show me there was purpose even in my pain.


A woman entered the Emergency Department right behind me. She staggered in, slurring her words and acting strangely. I heard the nurses, in hushed voices, quickly guessing alcohol or drug dependency. The woman couldn’t advocate for herself since she didn’t answer the triage questions or follow instructions properly. The whole emergency room, including me, drew the same conclusion.

However, while sitting next to her, I observed that she was well put together with kept hair, business-like clothes, and an expensive watch. Something felt off to me. As we moved to another waiting room, something told me to stay beside her instead of striding ahead. We walked like snails as, in extreme clumsiness, she swayed and mumbled to herself. I held out my arm, and she allowed me to help her along. Through the mumbling, I heard her mention something about her head and how “hard it hit her.”

After making it to our seats, I continued to nurse my own self-pity. Suddenly, I heard a shout followed by a stampede to aid my new friend, who had just collapsed unconscious to the ground. Someone quickly grabbed her chart, but the contradicting triage notes and symptoms confused the staff.

While nurses scrambled for answers, it suddenly dawned on me that she had mentioned hitting her head! I swirled around in my chair and mentioned my limited knowledge. She was whisked away while I said a silent prayer. Later, a neurosurgeon was called in to fix what was eventually diagnosed as a brain bleed from a work accident. She was not on drugs or drunk – she was badly injured!



Oh, how much we assume based on appearances and first impressions! The principles of triage put this woman as a low priority due to all of us (myself included) labeling her based solely on stereotypical behavior. I don’t know the name of this young woman or the outcome of her surgery, but I thank God for her, and I will never forget her face or what she taught me.

I realized that I am too quick to judge and make things all about me. My focus on my inadequacies and struggles made me lose focus on the truth that God uses us and gives us purpose in all circumstances.



Jeremiah 29:11 is a very popular verse:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Unfortunately, we often read this verse strictly as a future promise. We read it in longing – that “one day” we will have hope and prosperity, but in Ephesians 2:10, we read:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God knew us and prepared us for our lives long before we were conceived. He isn’t waiting for us to reach a certain age, spiritual maturity, or physical peak to use us for the Kingdom. God does not need us to be in a state of wellness to be a force of righteousness!



My pride was humbled that day. God prompted me to remember that even in our darkest moments, there is a reason and a purpose for us being there. In God’s amazing sovereignty, He showed me that I could be used as an instrument of love just by being present and seeing a human being for more than what they appeared to be. He also challenged my all-engrossing, nagging self-pity with a dose of perspective.

The cloak of chronic illness does not define you. It does not limit God’s plans for your life. Perhaps you are struggling to see your purpose in your pain. Perhaps you rarely see beyond the walls of your bedroom and feel like you couldn’t possibly be doing anyone any good. I promise you, my friend, even if you can’t see it, your purpose is there – the Bible says so! God promises:

He is working in you, giving you the power and desire to do what pleases Him. (Philippians 2:13 )

We need to ask God to help us remove the judgment we place on ourselves because of our physical bodies. We need His eyes to see through the stereotypes and the self-pity the world tells us is okay. We need to remember that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and right in the palm of God’s hand.

Yellow Bubbles
Erin Burkhardt

Erin Burkhardt

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 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!

Finding Your God-Given Purpose

Finding Your God-Given Purpose

Discovering our God-given purpose begins with trust, with learning to be present with God in each moment — less about why we were created and what we are created to do than about who we are created to be.

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