My faith is very important to me. Without question, it is the single most important factor in how I have coped with having developed multiple chronic illnesses.
Over the years, I’ve encountered multiple responses from others, regarding why I have developed persistent health problems. Some have boldly asserted that I simply lacked adequate faith to be healed. I adamantly disagree.
I have absolutely no question that God is capable of completely healing me. For whatever reasons, He has not chosen to do so. To me, it is no less answered prayer if I am able to derive meaning in my experience of chronic illness.
My persistent health problems have, undoubtedly, revealed the fragility of human life. They have allowed me to cut to the chase of what truly matters.
As a Christian, I believe that God permits suffering for multiple reasons. He allows the crucible of discomfort so that we are forced to learn that His grace is sufficient for us. Ultimately, our own resources are depleted when we lose control over how our very own bodies function.
Suffering also allows us to become more compassionate towards others who are in distress. I pray that others who are dealing with chronic illness will be encouraged by reading my experiences.
Don’t get me wrong, I have not always been a perfect model of exhibiting the role that faith plays in enhanced coping with chronic illness. Not long after my diagnosis of MS, I went through a period of time where my faith was difficult to even detect. I felt like I was persistently knocking on a door, and no one would even bother to answer it, when I would pray. I was truly angry with God for having allowed such a terrible disease to show up in my life.
After all, didn’t He know the plans that I had? Indeed, He did. He had something far better in mind. Regardless of whether we spend our lives being healthy, or chronically ill, we are all just passing through our days on earth. Suffering, in and of itself, is never welcomed into our lives.
My belief is that suffering without meaning or purpose, rather than suffering in and of itself, is what proves to be unbearable. My prayer is that others also find the peace that passes understanding, should they encounter long-term health challenges.