I Believe: Faith and Chronic Illness

by Peter Waite

A woman praying to God, expressing her faith and coping with chronic illness

There are very few things in life you can really count on, but one thing you can count on is that you will face trials and adversity.

When those trials are physical, it can add unwanted stress to your life, relationships, work and more.

I've faced my fair share of health challenges lately and I've been beating myself up for not coping the best in the midst of them. It's been so hard on my family and I feel like a burden.

Sometimes I just want to "buck up" and slog forward despite it all. But often my lack of self care results in a worse situation.

So what do you do when you feel out of control? When you’ve lost self confidence? When your body is not your own?

Sometimes talking it out helps with someone you trust, developing a plan, figuring out how you will take today, then maybe the next day, then the next.

Practicing gratitude can also help. I know this is hard, especially when you feel betrayed by your body. But you must try.

I try to be grateful for a warm bed. I try to be grateful for having enough for food. I try to be grateful for concern people share. I try to be grateful for being able to look out the window at God's creations.

Even when the familiar pain ebbs and flows. When my brain feels like it is swimming through dark clouds. When it takes all my strength to just "function".

When it gets really challenging, I try to remember that it is not the challenge, but how I respond to it, that matters.

I try to remember that no pain is ever wasted. And if I am open and patient while enduring, I can learn from the experience.

I try to remember that suffering brings understanding and empathy. I try to remember that I can be a vessel to help others cope.

But the most difficult part of being sick isn't the physical suffering, but feeling like you are all alone. That no one understands. How could they ever get it if they haven't walked in my shoes?

Then I remember that Someone does understand. Someone knows perfectly my suffering. Someone knows my dark moments of loneliness. And all I need to do is put my trust in Him, my Savior.

So yes, today I feel the pain, worry and guilt. It takes all my strength to get dressed. I am one of the walking wounded. I am a chronic warrior, even though I don't feel like one. But I know God loves me, and I will try again tomorrow.

Peter Waite is a chronic illness warrior (Sjogren's Syndrome, Meniere's Disease, Fibromyalgia, Crohn's Disease, occipital and peripheral neuropathy) and founder of HealingWell.com.  He enjoys spending time with his wife and four children.  For more about life with chronic illness, follow Peter's HealingWell blog.

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