When you think of how you’re living with chronic illness, are you allowing the Spirit in you to be in control, or have your negative coping strategies conditioned you to a place of the underdog?
In other words, are your survival skills running the show?
If so, that’s completely ok and you are not alone. You have amazing protective parts which are helping you survive.
My survival strategies involved depending on other people to do things for me like the housework or the supermarket shopping and I would often lash out at my poor old mum.
I always felt better afterwards as I’d released a whole load of anger.
I wanted to talk about my situation all the time; the comfort from others helped me survive. I thought about suicide constantly, this caused me to feel calmer as it was my way out of the hell I was in.
I wanted everyone else to pray for me, lay hands on me and relied upon their faith.
There is nothing wrong with this initially. You are coming to terms with living with a chronic illness and developing such strategies will help you survive.
But, The more you do something, the more it becomes normal or habitual. If you’re not careful, those coping strategies will keep you stuck, even though there were essential to begin with.
TOLERATING WHEN LIVING WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS
What we tolerate will never change.
Think of what was normal for the paralysed man by the pool of Bethesda in John 5. It was normal not to work, to beg, to lie there, to spectate life.
It was normal to experience disappointment, to have no expectations, to think healing is for everyone else.
This can be a bit like living with a chronic illness today.
His mindsets and behaviours show he had a passive nature. Instead of the man having control over them, they had control over him. He was not the head, he was the tail
This was his comfort zone. He’d been there for 38 years! Waiting for a miracle!
Are you just waiting for healing to land in your lap?
God wants to move you from a place of passivity to a place of grace. This is where the healing is.
The paralyzed man was comfortable in his paralysis. He asks him (and us) ‘do you want to get well?’ The more we tolerate our difficulties and limitations, the harder it is to move into the place of receiving.
Can I encourage you today, to ask God to reveal what negative coping strategies you’re tolerating in your life, what are the areas you’ve become accustomed to?
Are you ready to allow God to move you from this place?
Let me give you some common areas that become habitual for those living with chronic illness:
Are you depending on others to do housework for you, cook for you or do supermarket shopping for you? You assume you can’t do things for yourself.
This may have been appropriate for you when you were first diagnosed or if you’re living with a short term illness, there is no harm here.
However, relying on others, even when you’re not well, is detrimental to your recovery journey. It keeps you in victim mode.
The paralysed man was relying on others; on their handouts, their pity, relying on them to carry him places and to take him to the water.
Jesus gave this man the opportunity to change. How about you?
In terms of thinking, maybe you think healing is for everyone else? That God would have healed you by now and that you’ll stay unwell forever.
Do you think everyone else is better off? Are you angry at God for not healing? Do you resent others because you’re ill and they’re not? Are you lashing out at your nearest and dearest in order to release your anger?
Your wonderful mind has created these patterns of thinking to protect and help you in your trauma. Could you write down your thoughts? Sometimes when we see them written down, we see how they may be hurting us.
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Can I encourage you today to ask the Holy Spirit to show you where your thinking has become limited?
YOU ARE OK
Our circumstances may not be ok, but we are ok. We are children of the most High God, more than conquerors. Knowing your identity in Christ, is really helpful here. See ARE YOU CLOTHED IN CHRIST OR CLOTHED IN SICKNESS?
In verse 10 Jesus says to the man “Pick up your mat and walk.’” which symbolizes that we have the power over those things which once we were dependent on. The paralyzed man had been dependent on his mat until God called him to action.
The LORD will make you the head, not the tail…..you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
He changed his posture. We are the head and not the tail. What’s your mat? (What are you relying on?) What’s your action?
God doesn’t want us depending on anyone other than him. Could you try and challenge yourself in these areas?
Could you spend just a couple of minutes hoovering, washing the pots, cleaning the sink? I know it can be so so hard when you’re living with a chronic illness, but remember we have a helper every step of the way
If you work with a physio or counsellor, they talk about pacing activities, setting goals and challenging your boundaries.
Spending a couple of minutes cleaning a day for example, even in the midst of extreme pain, will benefit your healing. As time goes on, you’ll increase your ability to do those things you think you can’t.
Have a read of HOW TO RECEIVE GOD’S GRACE AND LIVE ABUNDANTLY which will help.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
REMEMBER, it really is one beautiful step at a time.
A good verse to depend on here is ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You see, if you can spend 2 minutes a day cleaning, it won’t be long before you increase to 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes etc.
It increases our faith when we move forward like this. We can imagine the life has for us with ease. Expecting to live life to the full when at the moment your norm is staying in bed is unlikely.
This is how you move from lack, confinement to freedom and abundance. God gives you what you need.
There is nothing the enemy wants more, than to keep us standing still. When we choose to stay in the status quo, then we remain in a position of restriction and lack.
There is no healing here. Journeys involve movement.
What your life would look like, if you changed those areas which you’ve settled in, where you’ve become dependent on others, expecting them to carry you?
Can you imagine the freedom, potential and the healing that would take place if we all change our posture and elevated the Word of God above natural realm thinking?
If we push boundaries and embrace the new normal; operating from a place of healing?
Thank you for reading, I hope it helps you a little. If so, do check out other posts about the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda: