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)
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!
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.
Wonder Walks • Trail Signs
Wonder nourishes our souls as we discover God’s fingerprint in every atom of creation. “Stand and consider the wonders of God.” (Job 37:14 NASB)
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.
Never Alone: God's Unending Mercies
Christ understands everything we go through because he lived it first. While it might be difficult to see small pieces of joy during chronic illness, God’s mercies truly are unending.
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.
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.
Blog Posts & Devotionals
When life gets squirrelly, it’s easy to see the first or flashiest source of hope as our safeguard, but just as a human is no home for a baby squirrel, there is no replacement for Jesus in our lives.
Sometimes it can be hard to look at what God is doing as a blessing, but He also uses unique challenges to make radical differences in the lives of his followers and those around them. Boasting in weakness seems backwards, but it shows God’s strength. Think of the powerful impact you might have if you shared your weaknesses with those around you.
Hope is a gift from God (and what a precious gift it is!), but the biggest gift of all will be the day when we no longer need for it. We will leave hope behind and move forward into eternity to recognize the glorious fulfillment of all our earthly hopes — and no suffering here can compare to the glory that will be revealed in us.
YOU GET MAIL!
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.)
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
Journey of Faith: A Devotional for Young Women
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.
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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.”