Five Steps to Joy while Living with Chronic Illness.
Joy is hard, period.
You have yet another migraine. The pain is just not willing to go away and you have zero energy to do anything. When you do work up the courage to attempt something, anything, the oxygen just does not kick in for you. You sit down.
You reflect back to the good ole’ days when you could run, laugh and live out your passions. A smile comes across your face. You sit in the moment and drink it in deeply. Joy overtakes you.
The moment is gone and you are back to reality. The past is remembered, but the present sucks the joy right out of you. Soon you find your emotions shifting to bitterness and anger. Why God!?
Your thoughts turn to hope as you open your Bible and remember the promises of God. You get lost in the thoughts of being with God, free from living in a broken world and your present pain. You feel the rushing of the Spirit wash over you.
Your mind is flooded with true statements like, “Nothing is impossible with God.” and “If you cling to this life you will lose it, but if you choose to lose your life for Jesus you will find it.” and, “Life is a vapor… hope is coming soon.” You get lost gazing at Jesus and thinking of Heaven. The smile slowly overtakes the pain and bitterness and your inner strength flexes its muscles. You feel strong in your weakness! Joy at last!
Quickly the moment passes and you are back to reality. You know your future is sealed in Christ, yet, the present seems like a constant pin bursting the joy bubble.
Can you relate?
This is real. The chronic roller coaster makes your heart race with joy and excitement one moment, then fear and pain the next followed by puking and real life sickness.
How can you rejoice ALWAYS on the chronic roller coaster of life? Why would God even give this impossible command to His followers?
I know the battle. The daily struggle. You are not alone.
I grew up with Cystic Fibrosis, diagnosed at age ten, yet battled it since birth. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic chronic terminal disease. Yet, as my childhood doctor reminded me all life is terminal, so do not forget to live.
Lately, things just got pretty real. For the first time I needed to get oxygen from a machine at night and sometimes throughout the day at home. I have lived the struggle for years in and out of the hospital, doing home IV’s and treatments to keep my lungs fighting infections and breathing on their own.
The mind is powerful. Our creator designed it. God says, “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” I realize I am talking to very smart and determined people. I am talking to powerful people. People who have mental strength beyond the common person.
I also know myself and the power of chronic illness. The power to take a man who boasts of radical faith and no fear of death to the depth of despair in a panic attack. I know the high highs and low lows of changing circumstances.
SO, how does one achieve a constant state of joy in the midst of any circumstance?
I could say… JESUS. (drop the mic, walk away)
But, I will keep writing a bit more.
What if joy was a state of being and not an emotion? What if you were able to have joy and be sad at the same time? Can joy and anger be in the same sentence?
I have heard it said, “Only you can let someone or something steal your joy.” The Bible refers to joy as being a fruit of the Spirit. Joy is sandwiched in with some other hard words to achieve like love, peace and patience.
Joy is a gift given by God. All good gifts come from God. You can have joy today. It is a free gift. You start by admitting you cannot attain it yourself. Ask God for it.
SO, how do you rejoice continually in the midst of any circumstance?
I am a feelings guy. I need the facts to shape my feelings, which then, shape how I live on a daily basis. For me continually having joy in the midst of any circumstance is a five step process:
This five step process helps me rejoice always. But, do I? No, not always. I need lots of help. The chronic roller coaster is real. I am learning how to ride the roller coaster with joy.
Will you join me? Together we can ride the chronic roller coaster and win at life.