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Glorifying God Through Chronic Illness

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By: Megan Evans

I recently read that over 3 million people suffer from some sort of chronic illness or pain, me being one of those people.

I don’t think those that suffer from chronic illness have worse lives or that there are not greater sufferings in the world. However, I do think there is something unique about the battle of something that is chronic, or long-term.

People with chronic pain often feel isolated, embarrassed, judged, exhausted, frustrated, and scared. There isn’t a “normal” day, and it is often hard to accomplish a daily routine.

But God enters into all of those feelings and graciously renews our strength, even when the circumstances don’t change. Here are the truths I daily meditate on:

 

We share in Christ’s sufferings

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 says that as we suffer in affliction, we are guaranteed comfort from Christ.

There is no promise that we will have just comfort without suffering in this life, but there is a promise of comfort in a way that only Christ can give.

There have been many nights that I have cried out to God, wanting him to take away the pain and bring comfort. There have been days that I want him to bring complete healing to my body. It is not wrong to desire this sort of healing and absence of pain, but I sometimes make this ultimate.

I want comfort now. I want a different way of living now.

I want a life other than the one God prepared for me. But how much would I miss if God decided to take it away when I wanted it? What would the need for God be if my life was easy?

This passage has been such a comfort for me because Christ suffered for my sake. He didn’t say “no” to the cross to bring himself comfort. We now get to say “Yes, Father, I will suffer like Christ did” so we make his name great, sharing the even greater sacrifice of Christ.

We suffer for others so that we can “comfort those who are in any affliction.” We suffer for Christ, we suffer for others, and we suffer to see our great need for him.

 

We are dependent on God

 

We will always be dependent on someone or something.

During the most intense period of my illness, I was presented with many options of dependence. I could have chosen dependence on control, wanting to find my way out of things, but ending up in a cycle of fear and worry. I could have depended on distractions or ways to numb my pain.

While I fought daily to do this, I chose dependence on Christ, even when this looked messy. I was honest with God, crying out to him even in anger and frustration (and repenting of doing so).

I got in the Word daily, even when I didn’t feel like doing so and even when my time in Scripture didn’t make me think anything different about my circumstances.

I prayed. I confessed. I talked to others.

Eventually, this became water to a very parched soul. I saw that the Lord was sustaining me, even if it was just enough to get me through the day. I saw that trusting in God, depending on him for every breath, looked more like resting, waiting, and being still.

I started to enjoy time with God even over being out of pain. The Lord wants this sort of dependence on him because he knows the best plan for us – even if that plan isn’t filled with the comfort, we so desire (Prov 3:5-6).

 

God has given us his Church

 

God didn’t let me suffer on my own, and he still doesn’t. During hospital stays, painful nights, and hard days, I have been surrounded by a body of believers that have sat and listened, provided meals, and prayed for me.

One of the great benefits of being a part of a church family is just that – we are a family.

The church is imperfect like a family, yes, but the church shouldn’t leave, abandon, or forsake its body, like a family. Hebrews 10:24-25 says that we are to watch out for one another, so we produce “love and good works” and that we encourage one another as we gather together.

This is the family God wants and calls us to be to everyone, not just those suffering from chronic illness. But the church regularly telling me that God is “making all things new,” (Rev 21:5) and meeting me where I am during my hardest days and moments, have made the long-term suffering feel like a battle that I can face confidently, knowing I am not alone.

Wanted: Students With a Desire to Change the World

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By: Elisha Lawrence

I like to listen to the news.

I know that makes me a nerd.

I like to read books too so I’m doomed to that stereotype.

I like to listen to the news because I enjoy hearing about what is happening in our world. I’m drawn in to hear about the latest Supreme Court case or developments in nanotechnology.

I can hear about current events happening in Baghdad moments after it has taken place. That is fascinating to me. Knowing about things happening all over the world is genuinely intriguing to me, but it’s also exhausting.

A lot is happening in our world. And the reason most people don’t like to listen or watch the news is because reports of what’s happening in our society tend to be pretty negative.

Another bombing, another school shooting, another corrupt politician or sadly corrupt pastor. It’s exhausting, and it’s disheartening. We don’t want to live every day resigned to experiencing tragedy. We long for some good news.

We long for some hope in the world.

I have been reading the books of Daniel and Ezra over the past few weeks. One of the most amazing things to me is the way that God shows up in the midst of absolute madness.

Most people have heard of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3) or Daniel and the lion’s den (Daniel 6). They are incredible stories of God’s power to preserve his people. And yet they wouldn’t be possible without complete insanity happening all around those people.

In both cases, a mighty king makes a provocative law to promote the worship of themselves.

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar tells everyone to “worship the gold statue” of himself that he set up or they’ll be thrown into a fiery furnace. (Dan 3:5) In Daniel 6, Darius makes a law that people can pray only to him or they’ll be “throwing into the lions’ den.” (Dan 6:7)

Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel don’t abide by these kings laws, refusing to worship anyone but the God of Israel. The first three are thrown in the furnace and Daniel is tossed in with the lions.

But in both cases, God delivers them from sure death.

God delivers them from insane narcissistic kings.

These kings have the power to destroy anyone who goes against their word and yet God miraculously overcomes them both. Hot flames and ravenous lions cannot defeat this God.

As I read these stories, I had a longing rise in my own heart. When I hear the news, my heart does sink many times. I hear about the brokenness of our world and all the tragedy.

When will rape and sexual abuse stop? When will misuse of power and taking advantage of the weak stop? When will the hungry be fed? When will the elderly be loved? When will the prisoner be visited? When will those without hope find ultimate hope?

As the school year begins and college students return, I am deciding to have hope for the future. I don’t base that hope on anything I’ve heard in the news. Instead, I’m counting that there is hope found in the God that I serve.

He can step into the midst of crazy situations and bring healing and deliverance. Our current cultural state is no worse than the one in Babylon in 600 B.C. God is the same God.

College students, I am praying for you. I’m praying the same prayer that Jesus prayed in Matthew 9. Jesus looked out at great crowds of people, like the ones that will enter MTSU this fall, and it says that “he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

I’m praying that God would see fit to raise up students at MTSU who believe that God wants to change our world. I’m praying that God would graciously send some of those students to City Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

I’m praying that God would graciously use me to help equip students to work for meaningful change in the world. I’m praying that God would then send us out to be workers in his harvest.

College students, I want you to become teachers who are passionate about learning and helping kids understand the world that God has made.

College students, I want you to become missionary pilots that fly people to remote villages where the gospel has never been shared.

College students, I want you to enter the music industry with a vision to sing about truth with creativity and ingenuity.

College students, I want you to become lawyers who fight for justice for those who are oppressed and ignored by those with power.

College students, I want you to become church planters who are willing to go wherever God calls you to go and do whatever He calls you to do. And I want to do it with you!

There is hope for something great to be done in our generation. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb 13:8) Yes, there will still be bad news reported.

Jesus hasn’t returned yet. But why don’t we give our lives to be part of the good news that the world is dying to hear about? College students, I can’t do it without you.

Have your people call my people.

Posted by Elisha Lawrence with

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