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Hope for the Christian Girl Suffering from a Chronic Illness

By: Bethany Beal

I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. Migraines had pulled me down one too many times and I wasn’t letting them have the upper hand on this day.

I pulled myself out of the hotel bedroom. I walked towards the mirror. It didn’t look good.

I grabbed my makeup case, loaded up the concealer, and lathered on a few extra coats of mascara. Extra mascara always helps me look less sick.

There’s just something about dark lashes that makes one look alive.

The clock was ticking. I needed to get out of the room.

With my head literally pounding and my body feeling incredibly nauseous, I walked out of that Indianapolis hotel room and headed for the convention center.  

The next few hours of my evening were absolutely awful. Once I made it to the convention center, I walked to the live stream recording room for the 2018 True Woman Conference. I had been asked to help host an evening of live streams with my amazing friend, Erin Davis, and I didn’t want to miss. I loved Erin, I loved True Woman, and I loved having the opportunity to be involved in a more meaningful way.

My migraine was going to have to wait.

To be honest, I’m not even sure how I made it through the first segment of the live stream. God must have been giving me an extra measure of grace that night. I felt AWFUL on the inside but looked alive and healthy on the outside. No one watching would have ever known that I was sick as a dog that night.

The moment the live stream ended, I literally sprinted behind the vendor curtains (where I assumed nobody would be) and threw up out of total nauseousness.

I sat behind the curtain just throwing up and crying. I didn’t want to be sick. I’d already missed most of the conference. I just wanted to be well and enjoy helping with the live stream.

That wasn’t in God’s plan for me that night.

Instead of staying and continuing to help host, I Ubered back to my hotel room where I found myself face down in the toilet throwing up for the majority of the night.

Yep, it was ugly.

Chronic illness. Chronic sickness. Chronic health issues. Whatever you want to call it, it’s no fun. My experience with a chronic health issue started when I was about 13 and has persisted to this day.

I suffer from chronic migraines. I used to get them about six-eight times a month and now I get them maybe two-three times a month. I’m grateful for the wisdom of health nutritionists, family, and a super sweet husband who loves me and takes care of me every time I find myself unable to function for a few days.

Honestly, I know that many of you suffer in much greater ways than I do.

Migraines are my “thorn in the flesh,” but I know many of you have greater “thorns” than me. I am so sorry about whatever it is that you suffer with. It’s hard. It’s painful. And if we’re honest, it often times can feel like a lonely journey.

This blog isn’t intended to give you all of the answers, but to let you know that I (in a small way) get it. I get what it’s like to have an “incurable” chronic health issue that you wish would just go away.  I get what it’s like to miss work again and again. I get what it’s like to miss the party, conference, date, event, church service, etc etc. I’ve missed so many amazing parties and events that I’ve lost count.

If you find yourself struggling from a chronic illness, I want you to know that there is hope.

There is hope because of these reasons…

1. This is Not Your Home

I find so much hope knowing that this isn’t it. This isn’t my home. One day, I go home to be with Jesus where all of the pain and suffering will be gone. Our Saviour will wipe away every tear and we will no longer have to suffer.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Rev. 21:4

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:14

2. You will Get a New Body

This body is passing away. One day in Heaven Jesus is gonna give you a new perfected body. I encourage you to read 2 Corinthians 5:11-10 which talks about this concept. I know that this life feels long. It can feel weary. It can feel painful. It can feel lonely. Have hope, this too will pass. Jesus came to earth, gave up His life, was beaten and unjustly murdered so that we could one day spend eternity in Heaven with Him. I can’t wait for the day when we will be with Jesus and live forever in Heaven with Him.

3. God Can Use You in Mighty Ways

I encourage you to look to the One who is your strength. Don’t look at your weaknesses and think of all that you “can’t” do. Look to Jesus and remember that He is the one who gives the strength. He empowers. He strengthens. He provides He gives the opportunities. He doesn’t measure “ability” as the world does. He looks at the heart.

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7b

There are so many amazing people in Scripture (and in modern day) who didn’t have the “ability” but God used in incredible ways. He gave them the ability. I love the example of Joni Eareckson Tada. She is a woman who has chosen to live all out for Jesus. She knows true power and strength come from Him and she’s allowed Him to enable her to do the impossible through her life.

4. You are on a God-defined Mission

This might not seem like a very hope-filled truth, but it is. This life isn’t about you and what you want to accomplish. It’s all about bringing glory to God in whatever way He sees fit. Some of us will have (like Paul) a “thorn in our flesh” that we just wish God will take away. Often times God doesn’t. He wants us to depend on Him and serve Him in spite of the thorn. He wants to show through our lives that true power comes from God (not from man).

Remember, you are on a God-defined mission. You are here to fulfill Christ’s command found in Matthew 28 which says,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Don’t believe the lie that your illness prevents you from doing that. It doesn’t! Pray and ask God to show you how He wants to use you to fulfill this command.

I don’t know your story. I don’t want to simplify your pain. I know life can be extremely hard.  

My prayer is that you and I will take our eyes off of our sickness long enough to remember these four truths. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s painful. Will you join me in surrendering the fear, worry, anxiety, and trusting that God can use the “least of these” to do incredible things for His Kingdom?

I would love to hear from you. What’s your story? How have you found hope through your chronic illness?

Bethany Beal

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