YOUNG ADULTS & CHRONIC ILLNESS
Rooted in hope. Created to thrive.
Chronic illness can make our young adult years feel scary and overwhelming, like we are drowning in details. But what if illness is also an extraordinary opportunity to grow firmly rooted in hope, discovering God’s truth that we were uniquely created to thrive!
We glory in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Young Adults and Chronic Illness
Are you struggling to understand and cope with chronic illness and pain?
Are you frightened by your condition and how it will impact your future?
Do you feel shame or self-blame because of your illness or pain?
Stepping into our adult lives with chronic illness can be scary and overwhelming. It’s easy to feel lost and alone.
But what if chronic illness is also an unparalleled opportunity?
Kristina Figueroa writes:
“When diseases, symptoms, and management are framed as problems, our feelings of fear, doubt, and worry increase. On the other hand, when the same issues are presented as opportunities or possibilities, our energy escalates and hope becomes the primary driver.
So, my challenge is for all of us to start asking the “What if?” questions.
What if all of these things are working together for a greater good? What if all of the bad things that have happened are actually leading towards better potentials?
Disease is a misfortune, yes. It could also be an opportunity when viewed from the lens of hope. And with hope, there is faith which does for us what we often cannot do for ourselves …”
Chronic Illness is Bittersweet
“[Chronic illness is] the most bittersweet experience you’ll ever have. On the one hand, being sick in your 20s feels like something has been stolen from you or like you’re missing a limb. You never fully stop mourning the life you’re missing out on, the life you’ve lost. But it’s also opened my eyes in a way nothing else possibly could have. I’ve gained wisdom and empathy, and I know I’ve been able to help others through my struggles.” Hailey Lorraine Zwanzig
Heather Eichwald adds, “You lose a lot, but you gain a lot, too. I’m in a completely different place than all of my peers. But I’m proud of the journey I’ve been through. Chronic illness doesn’t have to take away your 20s. It’s just a different path, and that’s OK.”
So don’t lose heart! You are not alone.
Whether we’ve been struggling with chronic illness since we were children or our symptoms began more recently, living as an adult with chronic illness comes with lots of question:
Will illness affect our ability to work? Live on our own? Afford insurance? Manage healthcare?
What about college? Can we manage a full-time course load? Can we manage living on campus or should we commute? What about roommates, food, and managing medications? How will our bodies do with less sleep and more stress? What about appointments and treatments? What about hospitalization?
How do we navigate dating? How much to we tell someone about our illness? When? First date? Second date? Not until we get serious? When do we discuss the impact of illness on marriage, children, finances, lifestyle, work?
Growing up isn’t easy for anyone. But add a chronic illness, and the transition to adult living can feel complicated and overwhelming.
But don’t be discouraged!
Press Into Jesus
This is also a valuable opportunity to press into Jesus and mature in our faith. Scripture promises that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope Romans 5:3-4 NIV , and that hope does not disappoint Romans 5:5 NASB.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out 13 Verses to Lean Into that can encourage you in your chronic illness journey. We encourage you to copy these verses out, memorize them, read each one in context, and send them to a friend who might need to hear them, too. The Word of God is alive and powerful, able to bring us comfort in a way that nothing else can.
One of the greatest insights that illness has afforded me over the years is that when you are forced to remove yourself from the speed and activity of the everyday and from the security in knowing that you can always be productive, you get a glimpse into what matters. And unsurprisingly, it is found in the tiny details. It is rolling around in the moments of the humdrum. It is the you that can be found in the absence of the roles that you perform, the work you do and the function you play. Jacinta Parsons
Chronic illness can make it complicated to move forward in life, but it is also an extraordinary opportunity to grow firmly rooted in the living Hope of Jesus, where we will discover the truth that we are uniquely created to thrive!
YA Toolbox • How to Live Well When Life is Complicated
Story Matters • Creatively Express Your Story
We can feel isolated and powerless when living with chronic illness, but what if your story begins to bridge those barriers? What if your story offers a glimmer of hope to someone standing at the edge of hopelessness?
13 Things that Might Resonate
With chronic illness, every day is an adventure! It isn’t a life we would have chosen, but it is one we’re learning to walk through with courage, tenacity, humor, and grace. We are so much more than our illnesses!
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.
Photography challenges are easy and fun. Pick up your camera, notice, and click. Take a selfie, go on photowalks, choose a theme, or how about photos of books?
Where do I discover hope?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need encouragement, these verses will give you courage and confidence. Why not meditate on them throughout your day and share them with your friends?
13 Verses to Lean Into
Lean into these verses, write them in a journal, choose one or two to memorize, and then think about who else might need to read them too. The Word of God is alive and powerful, able to bring us comfort in a way that nothing else can.
Gratefulness is choosing to focus on God rather than ourcircumstances. Fixing our eyes on Jesus reminds us of His gracious, compassionate love and unending faithfulness.
Intentional Kindness • 30 Creative Ways
Pause. Seek. Notice.
Allow yourself to be inconvenienced by the will of God. Then take the first intentional step forward and see what He will do.
Who does God say you are?
God sees you as someone of infinite value. He sees who you are in Christ, and who you will become as the Holy Spirit lives and breathes in you.
You Are So Loved
Do you love yourself like God loves you? Do you live like you’re valuable? Do you live like you’re set free? You have only ONE identity, and it’s found in Jesus Christ. Only He is qualified to define you, to remind you of who you are, of who He created you to be, and of who you can become in Him as He sets you free.
Where do I find joy?
Joy is discovered in big events and in small, seemingly insignificant moments, in both mountain-top experiences, and expressions we can easily overlook, like a kind word or a helping hand.
Remembering God's Faithfulness
Our Ebenezers are touchstones of our faith, powerful reminders of the Presence of God at work in the lives of His people, anchors of truth in the storms of life.
Living Brave begins with faith, with living authentically from the inside out. It’s messy and gritty, and reveals how much we really trust God.
Words for the Journey • A Prayer for Young Adults
God, please protect my heart and mind, and fill me with Your hope. When I am lonely and discouraged, help me cling to You and soak up Your strength. Teach me to raise a hallelujah even when I am down, even when I am in pain.
I am your child. I am so grateful that you know every single thing about me and love me completely as is. Help me to become who You created me to be. Help me to shine Your light into this world, to love others as You love them, and to serve You wherever I am, however I am feeling.
On the dark days, please fill me with Your hope. Remind me that You have a plan for my future. Protect my heart and mind from the pressure and stress of fitting in, of keeping up, of having it all figured out. Remind me to rest when I need it, to pace me days, to soak up Your strength, and to raise a hallelujah even when things are hard, even when I am in sick, even when I am in pain.
Thank you for loving me no matter what, and for never leaving me alone.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Yet you have never let any of this dull your sparkle. And you have faced far more loneliness and uncertainty than anyone should have to face, let alone a seventeen-year-old. Yet you carry it all with grace. I’ve never known how you do it.
Our mental, emotional, and spiritual health need rest. We need to care for these areas with the fight and dedication that we take care of our physical health.
You Get Mail!
You’re invited you to sign-up for #PenToPaper packets designed especially for you. Fun, edgy, and transformational snail mail will wing its way to your mailbox several times a year. Sign-up today, and invite a friend! (Safe and secure.)
Young Adult Books
Struck Down but Not Destroyed: Living Faithfully with Anxiety
A heartwarming memoir of love and faith from Hannah Brencher (founder of The World Needs More Love Letters) who has dedicated her life to showing total strangers that they are not alone in the world. There is something about receiving a handwritten note that is so powerful in today’s digital era.
Young, Sick, and Invisible: A Skeptic’s Journey with Chronic Illness
Drawing on her own deeply personal experiences, Ania explores what it is like to live with unseen chronic disabilities. She paints a vibrant picture of what it is like to be diagnosed with two life-long debilitating conditions as a young adult and relates the challenges and frustrations.
Have you ever wondered if you were meant for more? More than what the world wants to offer you? Even more than what you have planned for yourself? Have you ever wished to live with more faith. Each devotion is meant to remind you that walking your journey of faith may not always be easy, but it is always worth it. Jesus is always worth it.
Remember that time when you felt like disappearing and were sure no one would even notice? That moment was real. So real, that millions are experiencing the same moments of hopelessness in their daily lives. Your story is important. Isolation, depression and anxiety are real, and they have a bigger effect on our lives than we realize. It only takes seven seconds. Send one simple message. You could impact a life, forever.
“Because of everything my family went through with my son and what our small town had faced, I felt led to create a movement called #only7seconds.” The goal of the movement was simple: spread kindness through thoughtfulness. “Take seven seconds out of your day to send a text telling someone that you are thinking of them.” To Kristin, this simple thought meant everything. “You never know if that text could be the one thing giving them an inkling that life is worth living.”