Religion and Chronic Illness

Religion and chronic illness have quite a complicated relationship. I find myself struggling to reconcile my experiences as a chronic illness and chronic pain patient with what I grew up hearing in Sunday school, that “Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so.” I know that God does love me but sometimes that’s difficult to remember. Anyone who has ever thought about or questioned religion has almost certainly asked the question, “If there is a God, why does he let bad things happen to good people?” By this logic, good people, which I believe most of us are, would never experience tragic accidents and illness. These things would only happen to people who are despicable people. I believe that God does love all of his children. Even those who are not believers.

So, if God loves all his children, why do we have things like chronic illness and early death? If we look at the book of Job we see someone who has suffered immensely and had not committed any outrageous sin. Yet, instead of turning his back on God, Job embraces him and places his faith in our heavenly Father.

Job 23:13-14 (NLT)

 

13 But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind?
    Whatever he wants to do, he does.
14 So he will do to me whatever he has planned.
    He controls my destiny.

As a chronic illness patient, I struggle with accepting God’s plan for me. I struggle with the fact that I’ve never committed any outrageous sins and it feels like God is punishing me. I do know however that God has a plan for me and that I need to put my faith in Him. We tend to praise God in our times of light and good fortune. We also need to praise Our Lord in our times of darkness and weakness.

A dear friend of mine, who also struggles with chronic illness, asked me, why does this happen to me? I told her to put her faith in God and allow His hands to guide her. I told her to try praying and that I was praying for her. I don’t know about anyone else but I feel much more at peace after praying, even though the widespread pain is still present in my joints.

I can’t answer why bad things happen to good people, and why there is illness, violence and famine in the world. Only He knows the answer to that. What I can tell you is the words a very sweet woman spoke to me shortly after my father passed. This sentence still sticks with me to this day and I find myself calling upon it often to gather up the strength to carry on. She told me, “God wouldn’t give you anything you can’t handle.” This reminds me to call upon Him for strength, wisdom, and serenity.

In short, we may not know why we’re sick but we do know that God is right there fighting in our corner and almost always, prayer is the answer. It may not heal our bodies but does wonders for the soul.

Remember to keep fighting and praying.

Love & Spoons,

J.