He made, carries, sustains & rescues us

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No healthy Christian ever chooses suffering;
he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did,
whether it means suffering or not.
~Oswald Chambers~

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Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering—
it is the presence of God.
~Sam Storms~

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~part of our series, Serving Those in The Church with Chronic Needs~

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Fourth: Personal Testimonial Series


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Aren’t all these notes the senseless writhings of a man
who won’t accept the fact that there is
nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?
Who still thinks there is some device (if only he could find it)
which will make pain not to be pain.
It’s doesn’t really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist’s chair
or let your hands lie in your lap.
The drill drills on.
~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, p38~
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~today we will hear from the hearts of Sara, Abra, Alex~

Ladies, thank you for sharing these glimpses into your lives,
these windows into your hearts as we continue a difficult discussion.
Thank you for giving me personally an opportunity to see how you suffer,
to see where the Lord is working,
to see where my prayers can be directed & my hands may serve.
Thank you for suffering with grace, joy, endurance, and dignity.
Please know that you and your families
are also particularly in my prayers this week.

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1. What kind of ministry(ies) does your church have for those who have chronic needs?

Sara~ Ah, I don’t think we have a particular ministry. We regularly organize meals, but usually that’s up to the discretion of the community group. People also fill out prayer request cards that are prayed for during the long prayer, or people post updates/requests on the church’s Facebook page.

Abra~ We are currently in between churches since we moved, so I will answer as though I were still a part of my most recent and beloved church family. It has been relatively easy to access to pastors, mentors and councillors. I have in the past and it was often a blessing.

Alex~ I am fairly new to our church (in the last two years) and I think our church largely meets most needs—or at least relies on the congregation to surface those needs—through “community groups” or small groups.  I am unaware of any ongoing official ministry to those with chronic illness or chronic needs; however, that may just mean that it hasn’t been publicized or I haven’t asked for help in the right places.
At my church, community group leaders are responsible for setting up meals for critical needs, like after a baby is born or surgery, but there has never been a formal offering of help to me or a ministry mentioned in my struggle with chronic arthritis. I have had other married women and mothers from my community groups offer childcare to help me a few times, which has been humbling and beautiful, and I have taken them up on it many times. However, I often feel guilty—knowing they have families, jobs, and responsibilities of their own.

2. What kind of specific things would you find personally helpful for your church body to step up for?

Sara~ I’m not sure personally, but I know that my friends with long term health issues tend to struggle with the financial part.

Abra~ In the past, I definitely would have said financial aid with medical bills. During one of my hyperemetic pregnancies, the medication to sustain the pregnancy was costing $100 a week (this was after insurance paid the other $900 a week for it). Since that kind of cash wasn’t in our budget, our church stepped in and offered to cover the expense which made it possible for me to stay home for the duration of my pregnancy instead of being hospitalized.  At another church, friends helped set up a regular schedule in which church members helped us with cleaning, childcare and meals while I was on bedrest. It was an incredible gift for my whole family.
During my current struggle with mental health, I would welcome help with my children from time to time. Aside from frequent doctor visits during which babysitting would be appreciated, there are several days when I struggle to have the energy and focus required to be an involved mother for my kids. On those days, I feel horribly guilty for allowing them to watch a lot of tv and would love for them to be able to get out of the house and have some fun!

Alex~ My community group meets weekly, except for set breaks, and they would be responsible for praying for my health, asking about my needs, etc.  I cannot quite discern why I feel unsupported by them—this actually culminated recently when I sent out a detailed prayer request to the women of the group, a week prior to my starting the Enbrel treatment—asking desperately for their prayers that the medication would help, and sharing (quite vulnerably) about my physical pain, my fear and anxiety about the pain continuing indefinitely, and my other struggles. I received only a few responses to an email sent to almost 10 women: some responded a week or so later, and some never responded at all. I have cried many tears over this… and spent hours talking to my husband about it… and I do not want to judge them or become bitter in any way. I want God to search my heart to find any way in me that may be self-seeking or self-pitying and for Him to open my eyes to the ways others are suffering and perhaps unable to meet me where I am in my pain.
Childcare would occasionally be a huge help. I don’t have family in the area and I have many, many doctor appointments between my endocrinologist and rheumatologist. I would love childcare for the appointments, or for a date night (I hope that doesn’t sound selfish!), since we use up almost all of our babysitting money for appointments and childcare for our community group.  At $10 an hour, it is becoming financially unfeasible to pay for a babysitter.
Due to my specific dietary needs, meals are less helpful. However, cards, encouraging notes or even just an email or text message, a bouquet of flowers—some reminder that they are praying for me—these mean the world to me, and the fact that I haven’t had that support has made me feel so very alone. I believe, in part, it is because my illness is invisible. I’m not in a wheelchair at church services; I am still, Lord willing, able to sing in front of the congregation (even though I need to rest the whole afternoon afterwards), and I don’t have any obvious physical signs of suffering—so I do think that people who don’t know me well, and have only known me for two years period, forget.
House cleaning would also be a humbling, beautiful gift. Especially this past winter, without any family nearby, I felt so very alone and forgotten. My children had many illnesses, we all got a stomach virus, and I got the actual flu. There were afternoons when I was in bed just crying and crying and crying, asking God, “Where is the help? How will I be able to cook dinner for my children?” There were nights when they had slices of bread in front of the television because that is all I was able to manage.

3. What do you wish your church leaders knew about chronic need? In what specific ways would you be particularly blessed by your church leadership?

Sara~ I think our church leaders are pretty in tune with chronic needs as our pastor has chronic health issues. I would say that our church is really good at making sermons available and having live streaming and doing prayer requests. Our church is also really Facebook active so people post prayer requests on there regularly if they want. I feel like there’s a lot of people in our church with health issues so there’s a lot of empathy going on, but people I think feel too overwhelmed to do much more. 

Abra~ I do appreciate listening to sermons online several times a week that encourage my spirit and keep me focused on Christ. Personally, I wish church leaders were more able to demonstrate compassionate towards those with illnesses they don’t understand. It can be quite frustrating to see how quickly the church (rightly) responds to physical illness when they seem so hesitant to even acknowledge mental illness. I am, however, thankful to have many friends who pray for and with me even when they can’t relate to what I am going through.

Alex~ My church offers online access to the sermons, which was especially helpful in the winter when I was unable to get to the physical church building.
My desire would be for church leaders to be aware, perhaps, of those in different life-stages who might be willing to help in some way—older mothers who would be willing to watch two additional children, or those who might be able to clean. Most of my contacts in this new hometown of ours are young mothers with children who have very little margin of time to help others.
Thankfully, the Lord has put a grandmother-aged woman from my Bible study in my life as an emotional support to me.  She is not a member of my church but another in the area, and she has prayed for me and I see it as the beginning of a mutually beneficial friendship.
I think one of the weaknesses of relying on community groups is that everyone in our particular group is a young mother, busy with their own children. The beauty of my new older friend is that she has many open hours that she would love to devote to prayer, so a ministry of people who love to pray and have space for it already in their hearts, would be wonderful.
When I had acute needs during an extremely high-risk pregnancy, my home church at the time had a prayer ministry pray for my pregnancy, and several members of the congregation sent me cards to encourage my heart. I can’t tell you how much those cards lifted my spirits and quite literally pushed back the darkness and fear I felt—I still have them today. I would love to know that someone was praying for me and would love to receive an encouraging card or note, even though my illness now is chronic rather than acute.
Another thing that would help would be financial assistance. I am crying as I’m writing this, knowing this has been a huge fear and worry for me lately, given the cost of my medication on an ongoing monthly basis. As of right now, I will be on this medication the rest of my life—It is not a short-term course in any way, and it is (to put it lightly) very expensive. I am thankful to God for it and I know He will provide for my needs. He has in the past and He will continue to do so.
The cost of my dairy- and gluten-free diet and the monthly cost of all of my medications in total has been challenging to us. I am not buying any new clothes, we are not going on a vacation we planned…I know these are small sacrifices—VERY SMALL. But any assistance, even a grocery store gift card, would mean the world to me.
Again, I am crying thinking of the gratitude of being seen in that way by the Body of Christ.

4. What do you wish your friends and fellow congregants knew about asking how you are, praying for you, helping with practical needs, etc?

Sara~ Hmmm, not sure. I think letting my community group know my needs would be the first step. Also asking for prayer on Facebook is one of the most common ways of letting the church know about health issues.

Abra~ I am relatively public about my condition but tend to reserve the private details. Unlike having a broken arm or a bad hip, mental illness is more nuanced and tends to invite (often hurtful) skepticism. Unless a friend is heavily involved in my life, someone asking how I am doing can feel overwhelming and intrusive. If I simplify my response, I feel as though I were lying or complaining. Alternatively, to explain would be difficult and time-consuming. I am thankful when my brothers and sisters in Christ remind me that I am in their prayers, without asking for details. I sincerely appreciate it when they offer to help without asking me if I need help. I feel much shame and guilt over my struggles, and talking about it with someone I don’t know very well makes me feel vulnerable and unsafe. All that said, my closest friends and family members check in with me regularly to see how I am doing which is incredibly encouraging.

Alex~ Please ask, and please offer—not generally, but specifically. Instead of asking something general, like, “how are you?” or (my least-favorite question/statement) “are you feeling better?/I hope you’re feeling better”—asking something specific, like “how is your medication working for you lately?” or “has it been a good pain week or bad pain week?” allows me to share God’s victories and also my moments of sadness.  It seems that most people simply always want to hear that I’m feeling “better”—but the truth is that a life of chronic illness is really just about ups and downs, good days and bad days, and I would like to share all of that. I would also much rather share about my spiritual health than just the nitty gritty of doctor appointments and medication changes. A wonderful question would be, “how is your relationship with God given all the pain you suffer?”  or “how has your illness impacted your faith lately?”
As for offers for help, again I would plead with people to be specific. I have heard from a few people, “you could drop off the kids if you ever need help or need to rest,” but there is little follow up or discussion of when that would work in their schedule. Something as specific as, “I have Tuesday afternoons free, and would love to babysit. Would some Tuesday work for you this month?” would be such a blessing.
Just share what you have, and do what you are able to do. When we all had a rotavirus on top of my arthritis this past winter, and I was desperate, I reached out to a neighbor to ask her to bring me some Pedialyte for the children. She also brought me a candle, some flowers, and a few roll-on bottles of essential oils. She didn’t ask me if I “needed” those things; she just generously brought them, knowing they would lighten my load and bring beauty into my sadness. Months later, I am still thanking God for her and for that gift.
Being able to write about this is a blessing in itself, because I think one of my greatest emotional pains in this whole journey is how alone I have felt, and in particular, how unsupported I have felt both from my community group (a couples’ small group) and from the church at large. It honestly is not from lack of sharing about my disease—which I talk about almost weekly—or accepting help when people offer. I have wrestled a lot internally and with God on this issue—is it the invisible nature of my illness, is it that I am still striving so hard to “look perfect” when I go out or have people over that they think I couldn’t possibly need any assistance…? I often ask myself, do I need to be more honest?  Do I need to ask for things specifically? I am searching my heart on these issues, but I am in tears just thinking about how more support from my church would lift both my physical burdens and my spirits.

Suffering is nothing by itself.
But suffering shared with the passion of Christ
is a wonderful gift,
the most beautiful gift,
a token of love.
~Mother Theresa~
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~next time, in our fifth focused entry in the discussion of serving those in our churches with chronic suffering (chronic physical illness, chronic mental illness, chronic pain, and so many other various manifestations of suffering…), we will hear from a large smattering of church members from all types of varied church bodies… some of the input will be from the perspective of those who are suffering, some of the input will be from those who are serving the suffering, and of course sometimes that overlaps… so stay tuned, and be prepared to comment as a way of joining the conversation~

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In the meantime, let us continue in our prayers
for the Lord to be at work in our own hearts
and in our own churches.
Pray for your own eyes to be opened to the suffering around you
so that your prayers can be tuned specifically,
your hands can labor to bless others,
your family can find unique ways to come alongside those in your church
who would be blessed by whatever gifts you have been equipped to share.
Pray for your own heart to be softened, also,
if you are suffering in any way.
Pray that you would have immense grace in your heart
toward those around you,
both those who are obviously serving you
and those who you don’t feel or see reaching out.
Pray that each of us would be open to the leading of Christ
in whatever way we particularly need grown, strengthened, challenged~
so that our spirits would be nourished,
our anxieties would be put to rest,
our burdens would be lifted,
our bodies resigned to where the Lord has called us.

May Christ be glorified in us and through us.

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There is a purpose of suffering,
and if faced rightly it can drive us like a nail
deep into the love of God
and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.
~Timothy Keller~

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~part of our series, Serving Those in The Church with Chronic Needs~

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Third: Personal Testimonial Series


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When we,
any of us who have been transformed by Christ,
tell our own stories,
we’re telling the story of who God is.

~Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p238~
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~today we will hear from the hearts of Louise, Carolina, Rachel~

Ladies, thank you for sharing these glimpses into your lives,
these windows into your hearts.
Thank you for giving me personally an opportunity to see where you suffer,
to see where the Lord is working,
to see where my prayers can be directed & my hands may serve.
Thank you for suffering with grace, joy, endurance, and dignity.
Please know that you and your families
are particularly in my prayers this week.


1. What kind of ministry(ies) does your church have for those who have chronic needs?

Louise~ Our church supplies meals more than any church I have ever been a part of – it is amazing. They never ask questions like, “shouldn’t you be done needing this by now?” It is phenomenal. Praise the Lord for this. I couldn’t be more thankful.

Carolina~ We are blessed with a church that preaches and teaches the truth of scripture week in and week out without a worry, but they have no idea how to help families with chronic needs—and it isn’t because we haven’t asked.
Our church does not have a ministry set up for chronic needs; although they have tried, it hasn’t worked yet. They have said they will jump in a crisis like if one of us were in the hospital, had lots of nights in the ER, so on and so forth. They are amazing at jumping in when there is something acute like that, but what they don’t realize is that I’m pretty much in a crisis every other day. If I have a long doctor’s appointment I’m usually down and out for a few days and very sick that night, so it would be nice for my husband to have some freezer meals on nights like that. We have a church of 500 people and I know they don’t want people to get burnt out with making meals each week, but it’s not sinking in that my husband is hanging by a string being both mom and dad, and it grieves me to see him so exhausted! I know this could be the issue anywhere we go, but as a chronically ill mommy, I’m seeing a huge gap in people having no clue how to help—it makes me want to jump in and teach.
I have heard it said that chronic needs become a normal part of a person’s life which needs to be figured out by those individuals in order not to burn out those in the church who are helping. However I don’t believe this is biblical and this is probably an area where our individualistic culture in America has bled into the American church and told us that people are to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and not expect handouts or freebies, and expecting such means you are lazy rather than hard working. Paul tells us why not rather be defrauded and to bear one another’s burdens—and Christ tells us when someone asks for something, to give more. The early church in Jerusalem had a system set up where everyone brought their resources together and it was distributed back out to the brethren according to their needs. It would be naive and too American to believe this just refers to critical sudden needs that are not ongoing.
I have poured my heart out of my need for help—with my kids, meals, groceries, and my longing for an older Titus 2 type woman or pastor’s wife to check on me weekly (even if it was just a call or prayer over the phone for emotional & spiritual support). When I was asked about freezer meals, I said two a week would be amazing but even one would be a huge blessing; but we were told this was too much to ask for the church to do indefinitely. We are thankful for a very few women who have sacrificed their time, and even asked my forgiveness for not realizing we are in true need sooner! We are thankful for these families that have given of themselves.
The Church seems to want to help spiritually but they don’t know how at times and give up. Helping people with chronic needs is messy, painful, and takes great sacrifice. I’m sure we can find many Scriptures that teach us just that.  Romans 12:1-2 comes to my mind, because our pastor preached about using our bodies as sacrifices to others, in serving the weaker brother.

Rachel~ Nothing specific is set up. A few times someone has given me a meal, one of which was recently when I was dealing with something that would fall under “critical illness/need.”


2. What kind of specific things would you find personally helpful for your church body to step up for?

Louise~ Our church has offered us anything we need. I think of how in a time of great need, our church supplied ladies to come and stay with us for extended periods of time. Praise the Lord for this! It was so beautiful.

Carolina~ So many specific things would be extremely helpful while keeping in mind the family with these needs should have an individualized plan that is approved by the family in order to implement it in a way that is helpful rather than more stressful. One thing we find difficult is that many times the same few people who want to help have many needs of their own and are the only ones helping—they are getting burnt out while those with no needs are getting fat on life. One of our pastors said we cannot use busyness as an excuse—God will not take that excuse on judgement day. Many of us waste time on Facebook, watching stupid television shows (many of which we would be too embarrassed to invite Jesus over to watch with us), or doing too many things that are good in and of themselves but we are using them to avoid obedience to Romans chapter 12 verses 1 through 2.  This mentality must be defeated through direct preaching, good examples set by those who help, and much prayer. I think people are amazing if someone is dying: they just give and give until that person dies, and the same way if someone has cancer and gets better. But as someone that has multiple chronic diseases that I will most likely have forever on this side of heaven—people have no clue!

Rachel~ I had two people just recently ask if I needed housecleaning or meals set up through Helping Hands (where people can sign up to give a meal – used for critical needs). But I was caught off guard and didn’t voice my thoughts that with my current dietary restrictions it felt too complicated, awkward, and inconvenient to have people give me meals. Alternatively, I’d love to have help prepping a bunch of meals to stock my freezer. That way I could figure out the recipes that fit my current dietary restrictions.
If we weren’t getting our house cleaned already, I would have taken that offer! When we had someone start cleaning our house weekly, I gained back the 3-4 days per week that I used to spend in bed recovering from cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming! That time regained helps alleviate some of the practical, emotional and relational challenges.
I am so thankful that I have found a doctor closer than my previous one, and that my husband is able to drive me. If that were not the case, I’d be in trouble, because sometimes I cannot safely drive.
Housecleaning, meals in some form, and transportation can be very important.
One creative way a friend blessed me was saying she had something for me and asked if she could stop by after she put the kids to bed. She showed up with cheerful gerbera daisies, a yard and home magazine, fancy cheese and crackers, and a chocolate bar. Then she stayed a bit and we talked about decorating and books. It was super fun, super sweet, and definitely something I remember fondly.
This spring I am once again reminded of another church families’ special, creative kindness to us. A gal and her daughter came over to our rental house and together they planted tulip and daffodil bulbs in the beds around our yard. Each spring I drink in the pink and yellow blooms. Their color and beauty brighten, refresh and enliven my world, helping make my home feel like a sanctuary.


3. What do you wish your church leaders knew about chronic need? In what specific ways would you be particularly blessed by your church leadership?

Louise~ I need to hear more of a message of hope and the power of the resurrection for vibrant living. Having a chronic illness makes me low emotionally, so I need to hear about my identity in Christ from the pulpit. I hear about my sin, my weaknesses, my shortcomings, but I need to hear about the victorious life I have in Christ—even if I am to live disabled for life and cannot accomplish 1/10th of what I think I should or want to. This would minister to me more than any physical thing. I need my self esteem to be built up so my eyes are put back on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith—but in a positive light. I know that hard teaching creates soft hearts, but sometimes when life is hard day in & day out and our bodies waste away, I need to hear more good news from the pulpit. No holds bar—just the power of life in Christ—that it can be just victorious.

Carolina~ It should be a church burden not just an individual burden.
Prayer during the service would be good, and could be a continual reminder that there is a brother or sister that is prevented from being there with them every week.
A small study that is simple with little homework in the home of the sick person would be helpful: this should be with a few people that are completely trusted by the sick person. Also, don’t forget the caregivers (spouses), as they have very unique particular needs as well—It would be good for them to have a confidant.
Elders coming to lay hands and pray for healing, read Scripture, and try to strengthen the sick person’s face without lecturing, finger pointing, or being theologically nitpicky about the sick person’s words.
If you don’t know what to say, it’s okay: say you’re sorry, you just don’t know what to say. That lets the sick person know you recognize the gravity of their situation. It’s okay to be silent and just mourn. Job’s comforters were not considered miserable comforters while they were silent and wept for 7 days, but rather when they opened their mouths in response to Job’s painful expressions of grief.
It would be good for elders to read on chronic illnesses and for presentations to be given on suffering families’ needs and limitations so everyone will not jump to conclusions on what’s really wrong, then judge based on bad information or assumptions.

Rachel~ I make it to church most Sundays. If I didn’t, communion delivered would be welcome. (However, my first thought when I read that suggestion was that on some days I can’t even predict when I’ll be okay enough to shower, so setting a time for someone to come by with communion could be stressful. I guess if I was in that situation, we’d figure something out.)
Early on, I really appreciated my health being prayed for during corporate prayer (especially when we were at a bigger church and others’ specific health needs were being prayed for also). But at our newer, smaller church after a few months of medical answers being elusive and treatments having little effect, I can understand why they stopped. Illnesses with elusive diagnoses and treatments are awkward, so why keep praying for this or that treatment to hopefully work? (This shows the unintended ignorance about the other aspects of chronic needs.) I have learned, however, that I am not the only one with ongoing physical pain/needs. Someone has frequent bouts of migraines, another has Hashimoto’s and fatigue, one family has a handful of things they are dealing with. At least 5 of our 40-some adults have ongoing health difficulties.
One of the things I would most appreciate is prayer for us as a group—I don’t need to be singled out. To have our ongoing physical, emotional, relational and spiritual challenges bathed in prayer would be a huge encouragement!


4. What do you wish your friends and fellow congregants knew about asking how you are, praying for you, helping with practical needs, etc?

Louise~ Don’t ask how I am if you aren’t ready for a torrential rainstorm.
Don’t ask how I am if you are in the space to compare yourself with me.
Pain makes the flesh strong – it makes the spirit weak.
Don’t preach to me: when I read the book of Job, my first temptation is to think, “well, what Bildad or Zophar, or Eliphaz said sounds right: they were just defending God.” The fundamental problem was that they put themselves “on the same side of the table as God”—as one wise lady told me. God doesn’t need a defender—a falling brother needs a hand up. We are to run this race together, which disallows me from striving with you. I will stop running altogether if you judge me. Job’s counselors made it appear to Job as though they were on God’s side while he was across the table.
There is a helpful old saying by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “Advice is like snow; the softer it falls the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into, the mind.”
Don’t feel pity for me. Help me find a way to feel valuable. Help me find a way to be useful. Help me find a way to be a part of your life and needs—even though I am very limited. Don’t decide for me what I can or can’t do based off of what you think my family needs. That is for my husband and me to decide, not you. It only hurts and it isn’t helpful.

Carolina~ Don’t abandon your friends just because they can’t do all the fun things they used to be able to do.
If you are going to offer help, offer specific things that you know you can do to help instead of giving a blank cheque offer and later having to retract your offer, which can discourage the sick person. Even the small things help, like giving a kid a ride to school, dropping off takeout for dinner, calling on the phone for 5 minutes to pray for the sick person, offering to mow their lawn, taking the sick person’s kids over to your house for a playdate so the sick person and caregiver can take a break.
Give random money gifts if God is giving you extra as it is always safe to assume there are extra medical costs, and there is likely a shortage of money since chances are only the caregiver is working but missing some work to begin with to help the sick person on really bad days.
Be willing to accept the sick person’s new limitations and don’t expect him/her to be the way they used to be and do the things they used to do. This is who they are now, and we are called to accept that and help them in whatever way we can.
When you see a need, help be their voice to others (with their permission).
I am hurt and pushed when people don’t really know how sick I am and how much it hurts—that’s probably what I’m struggling with most of all right now.
We pray the Lord will use our pain and suffering to help others who are suffering, and also to educate others on how to help families with chronic needs. Many hands helping would make a lighter load for many families suffering with chronic illness or children with severe disabilities.

Rachel~ Realizing life with chronic illness is not well understood, I’ve begun talking about my challenges more with people I see on Sundays. Some seem to understand because they are dealing with something similar themselves. Others appear to think that since I am there and standing, I must be okay. Sometimes just getting out of bed and getting ready to go somewhere is an event in itself. They don’t know what it takes out of me to simply get out of the house.
“How are you?” can be difficult to answer. Do I say that I am not doing well; or that it’s been a hard week; or that I’ve been struggling emotionally, spiritually or physically, especially when it’s the same truthful answer week after week? Sometimes I sense the expectation that this time I should feel better. And what do I say when the truth would be that I just feel like quitting; or I’m feeling guilt and stress about not being able to meet my husband’s needs; or I just feel so alone in this? But the kindness of a genuine inquiry is endearing and builds confidence and trust.
A good way for someone to get a peek into the life of someone with chronic needs would be to ask “When you are feeling unwell, what does your day look like?” or “What is it like to live with your chronic illness on a daily or weekly basis?” Because there can be much loneliness, the sincerity of someone seeking to understand our situation can be encouraging in itself.
Chronic illness affects not only the individual who is physically afflicted, but also the spouse and family. We had no “honeymoon period.” Frequent bouts of being house- or bed-bound, coupled with low tolerance for sound, light, or touch during these times, and just scraping along with managing the home has greatly affected both the quality and quantity of our time spent together. My husband has the extra, often invisible, role of caretaker for me, as well as picking up the slack with household duties that I often cannot do.
If someone in the congregation has learned to live well with chronic illness or the pain of broken dreams, sharing that would be a gift to those of us who struggle daily with these challenges. Even while we continue to search for answers, I want to learn how to live well and be fruitful where God has placed me now. Is there someone who can teach us how to do that?
My husband says he struggles with empathy, not knowing what to do to help, nor understanding how my fatigue affects our physical relationship.
We don’t often initiate doing things with friends. I tend to hesitate because I’m not sure how I will be feeling when the time comes, or I’ve worn myself out trying to get caught up during a period of feeling okay. It has been hard on my husband to become somewhat disconnected from his friends. Since we don’t do much socially as a couple, he needs to get out of the house and meet up with a friend or two a couple times a month for some fun and refreshment.
For some with chronic illness, it is difficult to host but would be lovely if other couples initiated.

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~tomorrow we will continue the personal testimonial series,
hearing from the hearts of three more dear women~

In the meantime, would you join me in praying for the Lord to
reach His hands into these homes, touch these suffering saints, and uplift their souls by the power of His Spirit?
Pray for our church leaders to be full of grace, and speak the truth in love.
Pray for our congregants to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Pray for our burdens to be shared, and in so doing,
multiply the strength of our local church bodies.
Pray for eyes to be opened, hearts to be humbled,
bodies to be healed, tears to be bottled,
hands to work diligently, prayers to be offered as sweet sacrifices.

For the glory of Christ’s Kingdom
and for the blessing of His people
while we await His Heavenly Jerusalem
and in the meantime toil in His kingdom on earth.


Good duties must not be pressed and beaten out of us,
as the waters came out of a rock when Moses smote it with his rod;
but must freely drop from us, as myrrh from the tree, or honey from the comb.
~Thomas Watson~

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~part of our series, Serving Those in The Church with Chronic Needs~

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Praising, Trusting, Surrendering, Loving

Your future includes manna.
It will come.
There is no sense devising future scenarios now
because God will do more than you anticipate.
When you understand God’s plan to give future grace,
you have access to what is arguably
God’s most potent salve against worry and fear.
~Ed Welch, Running Scared, p140~

I decided to trust that the God
who is in charge of my eternal life
could also be trusted with my everyday life.
~Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place, p181~

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~part of our series, Serving Those in The Church with Chronic Needs~

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Second: Resources, Opening My Eyes to See Chronic Suffering


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I wanted to pray but had no idea what to say,
as if struck dumb by my own pain.
Groans became the only language I could use,
if even that,
but I believed it was language enough for God to understand.
~Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, p43~

When the Lord put it on my heart a month or two ago to begin praying more for my friends who have particular chronic suffering (which I myself have experienced in particular, probably smaller, forms), I wanted to know how to find out more. I googled for a lot of things. I went back to some books that encouraged me in my own forms of suffering (like grief or depression) to see how they might (or might not) be pertinent for people with chronic pain, chronic illness, mental illness, etc. I read Scriptures, especially Psalms, with these friends on my heart. I wrote some prayers with them in mind. And most importantly, I asked questions. I emailed my friends (as that is the way I tend to communicate with the majority of people, but particularly with these friends), asking them questions about their suffering, about what they need, about what help they receive, about how their husbands & families & church bodies encourage them. I received a variety of responses, and getting those specific glimpses into the hearts of these women (yes, these are all women who I know with these chronic needs… and all but one are married… all but two have children to care for…) gave me particular insight into how their lives are effected by their various suffering, and how their hearts are both uplifted & downtrodden in turn.

Pain insists upon being attended to.
God whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks in our conscience,
but shouts in our pains:
it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
~C.S. Lewis~

Please participate in this conversation, by considering these links and books, by sharing this with people you know who would be challenged or blessed by these things, by commenting here with questions or experiences or additional resources, and by praying for the Lord to work even in your own family to see where suffering is around you—in yourself, in your home, in your neighborhood, in your local church body—and ask Him to grant you whatever particular grace He needs to speak into your heart.

Do you need to humble yourself to receive more assistance? Do you need to embolden yourself to ask for more assistance? Do you need to lower your expectations for what kind of help you need, wisely discerning between needs and desires? Do you need to heighten the demands you put on yourself for seeing where your hands can labor, your prayers can bless, and your gifts can be showered? Ask the Lord to open your eyes and soften your heart in whatever direction would most glorify Him—and ask Him, then, for the strength and fortitude to follow Him with joy!

…We laughed, even me,
sincerely and happily,
but yet, I still ached in my soul.
~Ben Palpant, A Small Cup of Light, p97~

Soon I will share responses from the hearts of these women themselves. We will look at some Scriptures and meditate thereon. And then we will also hear, Lord willing, from a couple various church leaders for the perspective that comes on the side of sacrificial service and rallying the body of Christ toward love and good works. But today, let’s look at these links and browse these books—see what you can glean here, whether you are bed-ridden with illness or homebound with suffering, or whether you are strong & equipped to be serving hands filled with grace to those who are, or even whether your own current station in life doesn’t necessarily allow you (honestly) to lend time or finance to the suffering around you but at least to offer prayers and encouragement through words…

My prayer today is that the Lord would prick us by His Spirit, put our roots down amongst our family & church family, grow vibrant blossoms on our vines, and drop our fruit with abandon upon everyone around us. Amen.

One of Jesus’ early and great followers,
the apostle Paul, wrote once that
it is not what we have achieved
but what we are striving for that counts.
~Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, p91~























A Cypress Will Grow by Amy Chai

A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada

A Reluctant Journey by Kristen Grathwol

A Small Cup of Light by Ben Palpant

Be Still, My Soul edited by Nancy Guthrie

Beyond Pain: Job, Jesus, and Joy by Maureen Pratt

Bound by Illness, Freed by Grace by Maureen Brady

Chronic Pain by Rob Prince

Chronic Resilience by Danea Horn

Coping With Chronic Illness by H. Norman Wright

Doing Well at Being Sick by Wendy Wallace

Empty by Cherie Hill

Fibromyalgia: God’s Grace for Chronic Pain Sufferers by Robert Smith

Healing Prayers by Lauren Wilder

Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie

Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts

Living Well With Chronic Illness by Richard Cheu

Mended by Angie Smith

Ministering to those in Chronic Pain by Susan Gerberding

Miserable Joy by Jason Nelson

Mosaic Moments by Lisa Copen

Pain and Providence by Joni Eareckson Tada

Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired by Paul Donoghue and Mary Siegel

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine

Struck Down but Not Destroyed by Douglas Wiegand

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God edited by John Piper

The Beauty of Pain by Judy Dillard

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts

The Loveliness of Christ by Samuel Rutherford

The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie

The Works of Ann Bradstreet by Ann Bradstreet

What if Your Blessings Came through Raindrops by Laura Story

When The Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper

You Don’t Look Sick by Joy Selak and Steven Overman

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~part of our series, Serving Those in The Church with Chronic Needs~

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Chronic Needs Series Coming Soon…

Coming soon… up close & personal…

a little blog series on the subject of serving those in The Church who have chronic needs
{chronic pain} &or {chronic illness} of {any&all types}

Please stay tuned, please prepare to participate in the conversation, please let me know if you have experience…
if you are a blog lurker & would like to participate by being interviewed
either as a pastor/church leader or as someone with chronic suffering,
please please please let me know asap!

… … … … …

~part of our series, Serving Those in The Church with Chronic Needs~

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