We all have failure in our lives, some of us more than others. When you have gone through tragedy, discouragement, disillusionment, heart sickness, a broken spirit, illness and so much more, the Lord knows our journey and our hearts. We are all here by the grace of God, nothing else.
Paul explains this so simply. Without putting this into context, of this letter from Paul to the Corinthians, this scripture alone paints a powerful picture.
“I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.
If I have to “brag” about myself, I’ll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus. The eternal and blessed God and Father of our Master Jesus knows I’m not lying.” ~ 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 MSG
As we walk through Lyme Disease (or any other chronic illness and pain) we become intimate with the hardships, suffering, and loss. All of our stories have a different twist but you know exactly what I am talking about.
Although illness is not a failure by any means, illness creates an environment for all kinds of “failure” to spiral around us. There is financial “failure” when we cannot keep up with the unending costs of Lyme. There is relational “failure” while we learn to get along through a difficult illness. Our bodies fail us and it can be perceived as a personal failure. There are all kinds of things that feel like a failure during illness. Whether we have control over any of the situations or not, the hardships usually feel like failure.
Paul’s illustration of his life after so much hardship helps us to put this into perspective. We will never become this particular Paul. God created us to be the person that we are. Our “failures” will all be unique to us. Paul shows us that a life of hardship can bring us closer to Christ. I am grateful for that.
Wear your scars of life and illness with honor and dignity like Paul did. Every human will have failure in their life, there is no escaping that reality. How we deal with it is a refinement greater than gold.
At this point, I can smile as I think about all my failures that have only brought me closer to Christ. Every single time I read this scripture I picture Paul having great peace in the fact that his life and hardship was not wasted in the slightest.
Staying on our knees in prayer relieves so much of the heartache of failure. In time everything changes, one way or another.
How have you viewed failure in your life?
Donations accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, HHC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.