It is extremely difficult to explain what it's like to live with a chronic illness, to someone who has never experienced it. It is just so hard to fathom, for many reasons...
The times when people see you are times when you aren't having a flare-up and you're out and about, looking normal.
It's invisible anyway.
Those people have never experienced pain, sickness, or fatigue that lasted longer than a few hours.
Those people haven't had to meticulously plan their lives around anything other than their own schedule.
Those people don't have to back out of things last minute due to a "little headache" (that will potentially sweep out all your plans for the next eight days if you don't get horizontal NOW).
Elderly people can sometimes understand a little better. Moms who have had bad morning sickness can kind of get it, imagining what that would be like if it lasted longer than the pregnancy. Those who have gone through chemotherapy seem to have an idea.
Paul says in II Corinthians chapter 1 that through his hardships and sufferings, the pressure was "far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death" (vs. 8b-9a).
I have never thought so much about Death before. I have never literally died nor am I going to die, but in the past three years, "life" as I knew it has been stolen from me. I've thought about Death while watching from my window as others enjoy the outdoors. I have thought about (and felt) Death while lying in the dark bedroom for days on end, wondering if this is really what God had in mind for a wife for my husband. When the pain wakes me up at night, I have thought about our will and what I want it to say. Pain and suffering cause you to think about Death.
I capitalize Death and Despair because I know now that they are not just a state of being. They are wandering spirits that are looking for a human through whom they might express themselves.
I went into Despair for a long time, because I didn't know how to handle "life" this way. Life that felt like Death. I didn't know what to do with those thoughts, or how to take them captive. I didn't even know it was my enemy. I also didn't know how to give thanks in these Death moments that seem to last forever.
Paul writes on: "But this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead" (vs. 9b).
If anyone wondered if the "sentence of death" could be a gift from God, who does give his children only good things... let this verse be your answer. When you suffer, you are helpless to fix anything or control anything. You cannot even rely on yourself. God, who is powerful enough to raise the dead back to life, could heal me instantly. Or he could work that mighty resurrection power as he rescues me from each moment, which he does time and again by his Awesome presence. I no longer despair, because his presence is enough. But I do feel the pain, and I do have to trust my family into his care when I'm down. You cannot really rely on God fully in an area until you are helpless in that area.
"He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers" (vs. 10-11a).
Indeed, I have felt the sentence of Death. But what I want people to know is that this Despair and this Death sentence is not from God. It was not Paul's time to die and obviously it's not mine yet, either. It may feel like a death sentence, but that's our Accuser. He wants us to give up and give in to Despair and Death. So when thoughts of Despair and Death come to our minds, we acknowledge who is speaking (the Accuser) and hold on to the promises of God! Just like Paul did.
And we ask for prayer, just as Paul did. This is the reason I started the House of Hope for people who are still being delivered from clingy health problems. I know they are despairing, and I also know God will rescue them each day in each moment. We have got to humble ourselves and ask for prayer, if we really know what/who we're up against. You don't mess around with Despair and Death. And I depend on prayer warriors to help.
"Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many" (vs. 11b).
Not only do I need prayers, but I figure, the more I can get people to pray for me and for others, the more people will see what tremendous favor God gives us! He gives abundant grace daily, and he gives it by the moment. He meets every need and never leaves me hanging. Out of the blue, there always seems to be someone with an encouraging word... or some pretty bird on the feeder... or my son's dimple... or a friend available to help out... May you see God's favor in my life and give thanks.
May you see God's favor in your life and give thanks.