Big question. Important answer.
If I may, I’d like to thank our respective intellects for how hard they work at trying to figure everything out for us, sorting through all the input that we experience and trying to connect the dots so that we can rest easy. Our intellects work very hard; but right now is a moment for our hearts to speak free from any pressure from our intellects of what is or is not the right/acceptable answer.
What does that look like? Close your eyes, put one of your hands on your heart and ask your heart “does God really love me if I am chronically ill, or for that matter, living with any chronic challenge?”. What was the very first thing of which you became aware? That’s what you truly believe. That’s a building block that impacts how you feel about yourself; how you feel about God and actively impacts how hard or easy it is for you to trust God’s heart for you; His love for you; and His will/purposes for you.
Next question – hand still on your heart, “Is what I believe true God?”
Obviously, I don’t know what your answers were for either question. But before I share my experience I want to share some scripture with you as a “level” to test your building block.
Romans 8:35 (The Message)
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.
Romans 8:38 (The Message)
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Savior has embraced us.
Maybe your building block could sit level on the truth above. Mine couldn’t. Why? Because our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) and one of the ways he does that is to distort what we hear and internalize from our experiences to cause us to believe that we are unloveable and despicable rather than him. Isn’t that what all bullies do — always blaming someone else, telling the person they are bullying they deserve what they’re getting?
Let me preface sharing my experience with this — if you eat a nutritious meal your body is strengthened right? But, you have to continue to have more nutritious meals for your body to stay strengthened; one nutritious meal won’t do it. Same way for your spirit and soul (soul = will, intellect & emotions). When God reveals truth to your spirit and soul you must continue to “feed on it” by bringing it to remembrance again and again. Just as your body gets hungry and weak if you do not feed it, the same goes for your spirit and soul.
My experience – the date is July 2008. As I mentioned previously in “My Thorn” my world was spiraling downward at a rapid rate. I was working on a huge event for my company’s Board of Directors and Shareholders. Each day I was hating myself more and more for being in so much pain and feeling so weak and overwhelmed. I needed to be strong and well to do my job; I had done everything I knew to be strong and well; and it wasn’t working.
I went to see my physical therapist for cranial sacral release. While I was on her table I was telling her how disappointed I was in myself. Basically telling her – you know everyone deals with some kind of pain why can’t I just suck it up and move on. I’m doing everything I’ve been told to do to be well. I must be missing/failing at something or I wouldn’t be feeling this way. She was very quiet for a couple of moments and then she said “if a child was savagely ravaged and raped, would you blame the child”? I laid there trying to take in what she had just said. What did she mean? Of course, I wouldn’t blame the child but what did that have to do with me? Wait, did she mean I was the child and what my body was experiencing from the FMS was the same trauma as someone brutally raping a child???? Surely not, I mean … was she saying I was being attacked by this disease??? It was not my fault? With my head spinning, I blurted out what had been whirling around in my thoughts. She gently responded “That’s exactly what I meant.”
Driving home I was trying to take in all we had discussed and I heard my Heavenly Father ask me – if someone continues to be attacked by an enemy – does that make them a failure?
My response: Uh, no it doesn’t Father.
His response: So are you a failure?
My response: Well, I guess that would be no, too.
I came out of agreement with the lie that because the FMS persisted, I was a failure. I came into agreement with the truth that indeed I do have an enemy who is seeking to devour me (1 Peter 5:8) but God was telling me these things, so that in Him I may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world I will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer, take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted! For He has overcome the world. My Heavenly Father has deprived it of power to harm me and has conquered it for me. (John 16:33 – Amplified).
My enemy had been trying to crush my spirit through self-hatred because our enemy is very aware that “A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?” (Proverbs 18:14).
Fast forward a few weeks into my month of Sundays. I was journaling one day, expressing my thanks for the healing God was bringing into my body, soul and spirit, but along with thankfulness I had to admit I was also feeling that it would have been real nice Father if You could have answered me a little sooner so that I didn’t have to go through all this. His response surprised me: “You weren’t ready for an answer.” Say what?? “If I had answered your cry for strength to meet all the demands you were placing on yourself without your first seeing that you were not ‘a failure’ all you would have used that strength for was to beat yourself up with more demands.”
Once again, God’s mercy leaves me speechless. He just loved me too much to answer me before I was ready to handle the answer in a way that would not bring me more harm. Now that is love!
Back to my original question “does God really love me if I am chronically ill?” — no doubt about it!!!