“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more in number than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” ~Psalm 139:17-18
Sometimes things happen to us in life that we don’t realize are taking place. Chronic illnesses are often of that nature. Gradually one’s health slips, month by month, then week by week, until one is suddenly hit with the realization that he is far from accomplishing what he used to be able to, even though he is trying just as hard, if not harder. Oftentimes, his mind is also hindered and he becomes less reasonable, less able to control his emotions, and, in general, has less ability to make good judgments than previously. I have heard that by the time things get to this point, many people will deny that their bodies are actually sick, partly because they usually look just fine–or, on the other hand, people can often find themselves wallowing in their chronic illness as an excuse, particularly when doctors are not able to point them on a path of healing, often sending them to psychiatrists for drugs for some variety of mental illness. Neither one of these is an appropriate response for a believer, since we know that God has designed all things for his glory and our good. Everything he sends to us, it is from his love, though it be difficult, heart-wrenching, even life-threatening.
From this perspective, chronic illnesses are really no different from any other trial that comes our way. We must walk in humble reliance on our Lord who ordains every step in the journey of our sanctification. In one way, though, chronic illnesses are a little unique. There, the problems in the body also usually affect the spirit to a degree greater than normal. While one is seeking healing for the body, it is also necessary to cling fast to one’s spiritual awareness. Yet, the latter is usually affected by the physical aliment more than is often realized. The mind/body connection is, for all intent and purposes, a mystery–one that cannot be ignored by a believer undergoing chronic illness. We can neither use it as an excuse for sin–nor bind ourselves into intense guilt over things that we simply cannot control.
The reason I am bringing this topic up on my blog here is because I have been dealing with chronic illness for a little while now, but have just recently discovered the true root of the difficulties and allowed myself to recognize that my failures in getting things done, my failures in comprehension, and my growing clumsiness and stiffness is not necessarily due to laziness on my part, but due to real physical hindrances that will power alone cannot heal. The results of the curse are indeed far-flung. Who would have thought that a mere insect bite here and there over the years could bring one into a state of constant, sometimes intense, fatigue, great dullness of mind and spirit, and generalized weakness? It is a interesting sensation to be 25 years old and realize that you have bloodwork that might be expected from a 95 year old who is confined to a nursing home. Interesting, yes. Discouraging? Perhaps. Certainly not something to be elated about. Yet, on the other hand, it is not a call to give up hope. And it is even something to be thankful to learn, as my conditions need not be permanent if I get proper treatment. Untreated vector-borne illnesses, once they have spread throughout the body, usually end up leading to death indirectly via one means or another.
The vector-borne illnesses I am referring to are a variety of bacteria and protozoa that act as parasites in the blood, shutting off various parts of the immune system, and wreaking havoc throughout the body by one means or another. The ones causing my particular problems are strands of bartonella, babesia, borrelia (commonly knows as lyme disease), and some other thing known as FL1953 that causes a biofilm to grow in the blood, which not only clogs up the bloodstream, but hides toxins and the abovementioned “bugs” from the already weak immune system. The daily results of these things are many and various, shifting in intensity, never absent, and affect every aspect of my life.
Yet, in the midst of this, the peace of Christ yet reigns in me, for he is the good shepherd who cares for each one of his flock, as well as watching over them all, whether they are able to think clearly or not, whether they are “normal” or not, weak or strong. The Faithful One will not cease his steadfast love that he has always shown me, for he is God, the Lord of heaven and earth, who does not change and who always is there, leading me through this winding journey of life.
“The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” ~Psalm 145:8-9