How many times has it felt like the battle of chronic illness is bigger than we are? Well, it actually is but God gives us His strength and His tools to endure and sometimes overcome illness. He gives us “armor” to defend ourselves against everything from infection to the devil himself. His armor is there for us to cover ourselves when we no longer have the strength to defend ourselves. He is our source of all provision.
After spending decades in chronic illness I can look back and see more of the tools that God provided to help me through the difficult times. Without the utilization of His tools, I could not have overcome the physical impossibilities.
Today, in my Bible-in-a-Year reading, I was reminded of some of those tools, The Armor of God!!! The enemy comes to destroy us in many ways, including chronic illness and/or trauma.
I have been blessed with a fighting spirit. Okay, maybe rebellious might be a better word but boy can I have a fight in me. During my decades of illness, it displayed itself when everything seemed entirely hopeless and I refused to give up. My only hope, at times, was in God.
For some entirely unknown reason, I loved learning about war strategies. My son and I would watch movies about different time periods portraying fascinating war scenes. Going back in history, there was a long time period when warriors used armor. It was heavy, clumsy and effective.
Turtle defense is what I call my favorite strategy. It is when warriors with helmets, breastplates, shields, and swords gather closely together in a group. They lift their shields in unison to create a single “turtle shell” while their vulnerable bodies are underneath. They were able to move slowly in unison to endure an attack from the enemy.
I can picture the fiery arrows bouncing off of the turtle shell. I can picture the movement only because they believed in the strategy and they were willing to work together as a team.
Do we work together with God?
When I worked together with God during my illness, there was forward movement. When I tried to do it on my own, I stalled out. During my moments of despair, I fell backward. It took practice. Heck, it took failure, then more and more practice.
Armor of God
The armor of God was powerfully displayed during my time of illness.
Having Lyme disease along with vascular disease, thyroid disease, failing organs, etc etc, I was vulnerable to infections. It was crucial that I did not get any more than I already had so I could get a foothold and move into healing instead of the ongoing crashes that were threatening my life. I would picture God’s covering of thick armor all around me that would protect me from more infections yet allow me to move forward.
Having chronic illness wore me plum out physically and emotionally and I had to rely on His power and not mine. I had to put on the FULL armor of God, using every implement He provided at any given moment. Yep, there were times I simply hid under His armor instead of fighting. During those times, I so simply trusted the Lord and all of His promises. He does not promise to always protect but He promises to always provide. While hiding under His armor, I would peek out to catch a glimpse of His daily provisions.
Having chronic illness brings one up close to the devil’s schemes. We lose control of our body and our emotions. We lose relationships through the long trials. We lose self-confidence and sometimes even elements of our dignity are taken from us. The devil tries to get in every nook and cranny of our being. This is not our fight alone. As we walk through this and use the armor of God, we see that we are still standing, against all odds.
As I found myself still standing I gained a confidence in Christ that still brings a smile to my face. The experience of decades of chronic illness has given me that confidence. What a glorious place to be.
Before, I was “fearless” in the world’s ways and boy could I get things done. Chronic illness took all of that from me for a time. Now, I am “fearless” because I have the armor of God that has proven more than capable to hold my ground. I am a child of God, His precious child that He loves and has set aside for His Kingdom. On earth, the chains of illness have not hindered my faith. Instead, it has brought new light to it. My faith has been nourished by the trials.
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” ~ Ephesians 6:10-20 NIV
May you be nourished by the Word of God.
Maribeth Baxter, MBNC (Certified Mind-Body Nourishment Coach)