I’m in the middle of a flare. I really struggle on days like this. I’m sure you know how it feels!
Most of the time my symptoms are under control – I carefully pace my activity; I rest regularly; I do what my doctors have instructed in order to manage my chronic condition.
But sometimes my symptoms hold me hostage anyway. And I get stuck – like a beetle on its back. Does that happen to you too?
I’m too weak to sit up, so I stay in bed. I’m too mentally fuzzy to have a conversation, so I go online (bad habit?) to ease the isolation. Soon my brain tires of scrolling online, so I put my device down – I need to be resting my mind anyway… My senses are too touchy to listen to soothing music, so I just lie there in silence. I try to keep comfortable with warm blankets and a hot water bottle and thick socks…
Your symptoms might not be the same as mine, but I’m sure you’re very familiar with the emotional impact of these dreaded flare-up days.
Days like this
On days like this my body is a burden.
On days like this I am tempted to despair. I can’t achieve even the simplest of things. I am reduced to being a spectator in my own life. I lie alone in a quiet room while other people spend time with my precious children. I watch helplessly as my husband wearily and courageously carries our whole family on his two shoulders.
On days like this my guilt and grief come for a visit. They are not fun guests!
On days like this I’m tempted to look down on myself. To think negatively about my life. To get angry at my weak body for not bending to my will like it always did before I developed ME/CFS.
On days like this I’m reminded of Jesus words:
“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed.
Life is not measured by how much you own.”
Warning or encouragement?
For me, Jesus’ words above are actually more of an encouragement than a warning!
Well, they remind me of some very important facts of life – truths that help me to keep a godly perspective on days like this, when I’m tempted to despair.
On days like this, let’s remember:
1. This life is not all there is.
Two people came to Jesus bickering over an inheritance matter. Jesus’ response was to tell them a parable about a “rich fool” who had an abundance of grain so he decided to build an even bigger barn in order to store his surplus. (Luke 12:16-21) The problem was, he died that night – spiritually bankrupt.
The Parable of the Rich Fool reminds me that ultimately we are all in the same boat – sick people and healthy people, poor people and rich people. We all live on this earth for a little while, then one day we will meet our Creator. (Acts 17:31)
So although I don’t enjoy the weakness and discomfort my chronic illness brings, I do appreciate the way it magnifies my need for God. I do appreciate the way it pushes me to my knees – where every person in creation will ultimately end up. I do appreciate the way it perfects God’s strength in me. (2 Cor 12:9, Rom 14:11-12, Phil 2:9-11)
2. “Life is not measured by how much you own” – neither is it measured by how much we achieve!
In this parable, God was not happy with the “rich fool”. Why? Because he’d lived a self-focused and short-sighted life. He’d lived as if this world was all there is. He’d lived for comfort and pleasure. He’d basked in his achievements, probably assuming the success he enjoyed was due to his own hard work. (He never even acknowledged that God was the one making his crops grow!)
I really like this story, as it helps me put my lack of achievement in perspective.
On days like this, when I’m bed-bound, I can’t accomplish the most basic tasks of daily living. On days like this my achievement-oriented mind turns against me, and depression knocks at the door.
How comforting to remember that our life is not measured by how much we own, or how much we can achieve!
Below is a YouTube link to one of my favourite old hymns, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” – played in a contemporary, acoustic style. Its lyrics have really spoken to me in tough times. (I’ve been going through a bit of hymns phase – more about that in another post!)
I’ve only just read the story behind the hymn now. Wow… I’m speechless. It makes the song’s message that much more powerful. If you don’t have time to read the whole story, here’s an excerpt that sums it up:
Matheson said, “The hymn was the fruit of that suffering.” There is an important lesson in that. All of us suffer some sort of heartbreak or disappointment or disability at some point in our lives. What makes all the difference is our response – whether we let the hardship stop us or inspire us to greater effort.”
Father God, we are so, so tired of being in bodies that betray us. Our minds want to strive but our bodies hold us back. We are forced to rely on others just to get by. On days like this we feel forgotten and alone. We see people thriving in life while we lie here, inert and helpless. God, on days like this we need your comfort. We need your help to stand against the despair that threatens to crush our spirits. The despair that takes even the good things we do have and smothers them with the hazy hue of discontent.
Lord, it’s such a relief to know that life isn’t measured by how much we own – or how much we can achieve! Help us to build our identity on the solid foundation of Jesus. Help us to remember we are valuable because we belong to you – and that’s all that counts. Grow in us a strong sense of dignity and purpose as we remember who we are in Christ. Give us perseverance, please Lord. Help us live today with a supernatural peace, knowing that this life is not all there is… Help us live today – and each new day on this earth – in the light of eternity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you’re feeling useless, or worthless, or you’re struggling to find a sense of purpose and joy in life, these two posts might provide the encouragement you need: The Terrible Trio of Grief – Our Good Shepherd (Psalm 23) and Fruitful #1: When You Miss Feeling Useful.
Follow-up post on the way!
The second part of the “Days Like This” devotional is coming…
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