Young Adults and Chronic Illness: Rooted in hope. Created to thrive.

Young Adults & Chronic Illness

Rooted in hope. Created to thrive.

Chronic illness, mental illness, and chronic pain 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)

Invisible illness characterizes almost 96% of those with chronic illness.
Mental Illness Facts • 50% of all mental illness begins by age 14, 75% by age 24

About YA’s & Illness

Approximately 171 million people in the U.S. live with chronic illness. Almost 96% of those are invisible illnesses.

Worldwide 50% of all mental illness begins by age 14 and most are undetected and untreated.

Because chronic illness is unpredictable, we can  feel isolated, alone, and forgotten. After having to cancel too many plans at the last minute, we can stop being invited altogether.

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.

YA Insights

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!

How to Live Well When Life is Complicated

There are no easy answers or quick fixes to living well when chronic illness is our constant companion. It’s easy to notice all the things we can’t do, yet illness has the capacity to draw us to Jesus and to lean into faith. Faith is a courageous step, and when we choose to take even one step, the Holy Spirit is faithful to equip us. Chronic Joy has developed and continues to develop practical guides, not as solutions, but as invitations to step out in faith and try something new.


Words for the Journey • A Prayer

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. (Joshua 1:9)

Blog Posts & Devotionals

Even More



Speak Life - Spark Hope Stationery

Speak Life, Spark Hope Stationery

You Get Mail! Young Adults


Young adults, you’re invited to sign up for free #PenToPaper snail mail designed just for you. Thoughtful, unique, and  inspiring packets will arrive in your mailbox throughout the year, inviting you to share the love with others. Sign up today. (Safe and secure.)

Sharing Life  Discovering Hope Stationery


Young Adult Books

Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered

Struck Down but Not Destroyed: Living Faithfully with Anxiety

Pierce Taylor Hibbs

Perhaps anxiety is not a terror to avoid but a tool in God’s hands, to see the amazing truth that being struck down won’t destroy us with God on our side. A 12-year anxiety veteran offers wisdom, encouragement, and resources for anxious Christians.

Buy from Amazon

Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered

If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers

Hannah Brencher

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.

Buy from Amazon


Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered

Young, Sick, and Invisible: A Skeptic’s Journey with Chronic Illness

Ania Bula

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.

Buy from Amazon

Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered

Journey of Faith: A Devotional for Young Women

Isabella Morganthal

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.

Buy from Amazon


The Amazon buttons are affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chronic Joy will receive an affiliate commission.



Only 7 SecondsRemember 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.”

{#PenToPaper not only encourages young adults with chronic illness; it also provides the inspiration to write letters to classmates, friends, and loved ones to remind them that they are not alone.
Elyse S.
Liverpool, NY
Elyse Ogbourne
{As someone with chronic illness, I am very encouraged by the mailings from Chronic Joy. The information included in each mailing is always helpful and inspirational, and I love receiving the beautiful note cards on which I can write a special message of encouragement and pass on to others. The Chronic Joy team does an amazing job of connecting faith and Scripture with great resources that will bless all who receive these wonderful #PenToPaper gifts.
Emerson M.
Columbia, MO
Emerson Mertens
{As a young person dealing with with many chronic illnesses, it can be all too easy to feel isolated. I'm so grateful for Chronic Joy reminding me I'm not alone at all. Scrolling the Prayer Pond, using the Printables, and seeing the daily social media posts all encourage me so much. I especially love the #PenToPaper program. I know how much fun it is to receive a letter or postcard when I'm not able to get out much, and #PenToPaper makes it easy to share the love with others!
Hailey H.
Cumming, GA
Hailey Hudson
{Letter writing is such an easy, but powerful way to communicate love and encouragement to those who need it. I invite my generation of chronic illness warriors to risk reaching beyond their comfort zone to bless those around them.
Sara W.
Cotttonwood, AZ
Sara Willoughby
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