THE STRUGGLE OF REDISCOVERING MY PURPOSE
A long-time friend shared vital hope in a card she gave me recently: Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21) She and I had not talked in a long time, but the Holy Spirit prompted her with the exact verse I needed to realign my thinking with truth.
I had been wrestling (yet again) with how chronic pain seemed incompatible with fulfilling my life purpose. Realms of service that once sparked joy were no longer possible. Limited energy and ability prevented me from participating in what had defined me for decades.
The Lord gently but firmly reminded me that nothing could thwart His will for my life. He called me to a Scripture-based mindset rather than the “measuring stick” of cultural and self-imposed expectations.
This place of struggle first arose a few years ago, and I was grateful to receive a book entitled FINDING PURPOSE by Chronic Joy co-founder Cindee Snider Re. It offered a tangible strategy for exploring doubts and fears triggered by health challenges, including surrender, willingness, refining, attitude, and choice. Specific Bible passages accompanied each chapter, providing strong boundaries to keep my thoughts and emotions on track. Here is one example:
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. (2 Corinthians 8:12)
After reading and reflecting on those words, I penned the following: “I must be willing to accept my limits, focusing on what I can do rather than what I can’t.”
Other Scriptures highlighted God’s declaration of life purpose for all who desire to honor Him, made possible by His strength rather than our own:
Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13b)
He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
REDISCOVERING MY PURPOSE IS A PROCESS
The Holy Spirit helped me recognize how much I had rooted my identity in external accomplishment. Beloved ministry roles as Bible teacher and worship leader had garnered recognition and appreciation, subtly becoming key elements of how I assessed my value. I was humbled to admit this fact, but at the same time, I was freed to realize my Biblical purpose could not be hindered. It would look different than in the past, but I would continue to love and serve the Lord however He led me.
I wish I could say this process has been “one and done,” but that simply isn’t true. Doubts related to purpose have arisen repeatedly during my four years of chronic pain. Two specific Chronic Joy printable resources have been instrumental in revisiting this topic in shorter yet meaningful ways. Biblical Purpose has provided practical help in exploring God’s intention for my life, and 16 Verses to Ignite Hope has supplied key Scriptures related to who I am in Christ.
Using Chronic Joy tools as a guide, I invite you to honestly consider how ongoing pain or illness has impacted your sense of purpose. I believe you will find inspiration to shift away from outward standards of value and rediscover the Lord’s excellent intentions for your future.
Gracious God, You know how we struggle to measure up to our expectations and those others impose. Please liberate us to walk in Your unchanging purposes and know that our lives truly matter. Thank You that nothing can thwart Your good plans. To You be all praise. Amen.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- How does chronic pain or illness cause you to question your life purpose?
- In what ways does your measure of self-worth differ from that presented in Scripture?
- How can you align your mind and emotions with God’s truth?
Lee Ann Zanon
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer
Lee Ann is passionate about spreading the truth of Scripture. For decades, she served in various women’s ministry roles (including teaching at Corban University for ten years) until chronic pain dramatically changed her life. Her background as a Bible teacher, retreat speaker, worship leader, editor, and writer has prepared her perfectly for her current focus on writing and providing one-on-one encouragement. Lee Ann and her husband Mike live in Salem, Oregon. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren. She is the author of Honest Hope.
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.