How we see life is how we live it. This usually does not set too well with someone in the middle of suffering through chronic illness and pain. Life and illness feel quite out of our control as we walk through suffering of any kind. God has something very clear to say about how to frame suffering.
I love how God covers all of our needs. Chronic illness and pain create some suffering all on its own. How we see that suffering can help us walk through it with more grace. God tells us exactly how to frame the picture of suffering. This is something that I have always gotten quite tickled about. When we see what can come of suffering, it can be a rite of passage in a sense. Anything that frames life in a way that I can see it through God’s eyes is exciting.
God says that suffering produces perseverance then character and then hope. It is hope that keeps us alive and fighting to find a peace through our illness.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, 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 5:1-5 NIV
Think about how long you have been going through chronic illness and pain. Think about what you have had to give up and deal with because of it. Think about how you have just done it, day in and day out, you have walked through it. Think about how differently you think today than back when you were healthy. That thinking has changed. Everyone is different and I cannot say how you “should” have changed your thinking from this experience. What I do have the liberty to say is what God says about it.
We easily understand the suffering. Chronic illness and pain bring a boatload of suffering. Add the other parts of our lives on top of that and there are moments it all can look like suffering. We can choose to get stuck here or move through what God has to say about it.
God tells us that through our suffering (something like chronic illness and pain), we can choose to have perseverance through it. There is no possible way you do not have perseverance if you have chronic illness and pain. You are reading this, that shows great perseverance. You are still alive and fighting through this, you have not given up, that is the greatest of perseverance.
When we choose perseverance, that builds our character. I sure know that my character is always in need of building. When we make a conscious choice to persevere, we build character because we made that choice. Getting perseverance under our belt gives us some more strength to take on another day, another treatment, more isolation, more pain. That is, in part, character. Take notice that you have the character simply by persevering. We can always build on our character but know you have some already simply because you have chosen to persevere.
Character produces hope. Without hope, I would have given up a long time ago. Without hope, I would not still be here to see what comes next; who might show up, what cure will happen, my growth from the experience, how I can use it to be of service to others. Hope is what is expected, not the hope for what we want for Christmas. I simply expect that life will turn out exactly how God already has planned. Great freedom and peace come with that kind of hope, even with chronic illness and pain.
This is where I get so tickled. It builds on itself and God shows us how to walk through things that are harder than we know how to deal with. He shows us not only how to walk through it but how to come out the other side better off for having experienced it. God shows us very clearly how to frame it well by putting His light into it.
Can you see your character because of perseverance? Do you have hope even when you cannot see it in front of you?
Donations accepted to serve others in their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, HHC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.