If you’re one of those people who have never experienced allergies, who haven’t had to go on antibiotics hundreds of times, who don’t seem to have an Achilles’ heal with anything health-wise, who can sit in smoke from a bonfire without having an asthma attack, who can sleep with a cat resting beneath your chin and not die, who can sleep in a room that had a cat in it 40 years ago and not die, who can seemingly eat tire rubber and digest it without a problem, it’s likely you may fail to compassionately understand the situations of those who suffer daily from illnesses, allergies and conditions because you can’t even remotely fathom what they’re going through. It’s not that you’re a mean-spirited person. You just can’t imagine walking in shoes that send electric pains up your leg and into your butt.
Let me tell you from firsthand experience: With comments and attitudes received from people and nasty thoughts from yourself, it’s easy to allow yourself to feel disabled, in many ways—like you’re the one who’s holding everyone back because of your “special needs.”
It’s easy to view yourself as the wettest blanket this side of the rain forest and the biggest pain someone’s ever felt. It hurts your pride to have to ask for “special accommodations.” You often feel like a social pariah or an unintentional attention hog. In other words, it’s easy to feel discouraged and depressed, held back by innumerable things you can’t control, though you try to manage them as independently and as best as you can.
You may awkwardly attempt to throw on an air of positivity when you just want to hide in the corner. You may have become a hermit because it seems like the best option. You may want to be “normal” and just eat pizza like the rest of the bunch, bury your face in the fur of a dog, hike all day, and gorge on one of the flippin’ donuts your coworkers always bring to meetings, without being held back by physical limitations. You may even question your worth and value because society regularly treats you like you’re the pathetic, deathly plague of the party.
Believe it or not, the physically afflicted actually have an advantage over others. Having such obvious constraints makes it way easier to understand your self-reliance is misplaced and your self-esteem needs to be grounded in something far deeper and more powerful than yourself.
One biblical truth that has carried me through years of on-and-off again anxiety, discouragement and depression during near-death experiences, chronic pain and ongoing illnesses is how God often uses people who are viewed as weak. Now, why would he choose the people with noticeable limitations to carry out his plans?
Whether we’re reminded of how he chose David, the runt of the litter, to kill Goliath and become the king of Israel, or Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brood of jealous brothers, wrongly accused of rape and put into jail, the Bible tells us how God used their less-than-savory situations and what they and others lacked to showcase his majesty and might, loving kindness and sovereignty.
If you’re having a down day, remember this: Your worth is not found in what you can or cannot do right now, what you wish you could do and currently can’t, and whether you can eat bread, butter and beans or not. Your worth is precious and priceless to the one who created you—your father in Heaven. You are treasured. You are loved.
You are also called to be proactive in both a simple and difficult manner. Release your clenched fists and give up your pent-up anger, frustrations, fears, and the illusion of your control to God himself. He can handle everything. You can’t. You need help. I know I do.
Fight the good fight by applying his truths to your life and by believing that he truly does love you—warts, welts, scars and all. Equip yourself with the armor of God daily. Surround yourself with scripture. Have faith that his plans are the best plans. And bring joy and encouragement to others. Since God is hope, we have no reason to lose it because he is always walking by our side and living within our hearts.
You are not your disease or affliction. It is merely a means by which God’s power can more effectively and magnificently reach others and yourself, if you allow him to write your story. You never know what plans God has in store, so trust him, give him control, obey him, and thank him for all the blessings he’s given you. It’s a moment-by-moment decision, and some of the most important decisions we can make.
While you’re resting in Jesus’ love and the hope found in him alone, be grateful for and enjoy the things you can presently experience. Don’t wait to have dreams, to have fun, to love others, to laugh and to live until your life seems up to standards. Live now, live well, and show others God’s grace with a joyful confidence in his abilities.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.