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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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17 Responses to Hope for the Christian Girl Suffering from a Chronic Illness

  1. Grateful says:

    Praise God for your continuing bravery in being honest and open with us girls about all of your struggles and hurts. I have suffered with menstrual pain since 11 years old – debilitating, nauseating pain that wracks my body and leaves me feeling helpless. For years, I tried to “push through” feeling like I was just being weak when others seemed just fine. I was so frustrated with the feeling that – no matter what – I’m going to miss out on something great that I want to be a part of in the future. I even lived with the fear that my own illness would effect my future wedding day, forcing me to delay the actual ceremony! Only recently did I find a nutritional “solution” (a combination of several products from different companies) that doesn’t completely eliminate the pain, but brings it down to a nearly functional level… which I consider a MIRACLE and an answer to years of prayer. But, even with those helps, I’m still not “out of the woods” and I have to fight fearing the future – fearing “next month.” I can relate to your struggle, though different from mine, and I know what it’s like to plan your life around an illness. Praise God, though. He has given me peace to endure pain with grace. I am able to realize pain is coming, and brace for it without fear, knowing there has no temptation taken me but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer me to be tempted above that I are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that I may be able to bear it.

  2. McKenna Smith says:

    Dear Bethany, Thank you for sharing these awesome and beautiful truths! Thanks also for sharing your personal testimony…so beautiful to hear the “behind-the-scenes” of what God is doing in each other’s lives. Such a testament to His faithfulness and grace. I have been battling chronic Lyme disease for the past few years. It has altered my life incredibly leaving me house-bound a great deal of the time. And yet it has been one of the most precious gifts in my life…requiring me to *be still*, *know and trust Who my God is*, and *surrender* my own expectation for this chapter of my life. I wouldn’t trade this season (however long it might be) for anything. By God’s abundant grace, Jesus has been made more delightful to me than ever before. Moments, days, and sometimes weeks come that leave me dishearten, discouraged, and even depressed. And even there – in those seemingly dark places – He holds us fast. There is so much glory and so much grace and peace and beauty to be found in the life yielded to Jesus. Thank you again for sharing and encouraging my heart. <3

  3. Holly Parker says:

    Thank you Bethany for sharing your story and reminding us why we can still have hope in this life. Personally, I have been dealing with diagnosed hypothyroidism since 2012, and have since then been battling with remaining symptoms despite being treated for it. Over the last few years I’ve also been collecting more issues which are unyet undiagnosed and have had some bad flares. I can thankfully still get on with everyday life most days, although I have to balance (sometimes quite drastically) how much I do so that I don’t overdo things, although it’s not always easy and flare-up days can sometimes come out of the blue, although I’ve come to realise that they are generally rest days that I need in order to face things that are still to come in the near-future as that has happened quite a bit. I’m coming to a season when I really need to start pursuing answers etc but am worried about the outcomes, as many of them may well be autoimmune, with some being genetic. I’m thankful that God has been gradually drawing me closer to Himself, as well as helping me to trust Him more and His plans for my future, even though they are likely to be very different to how I’ve imagined. A friend reminded me yesterday, as you have done, that at the end of the day we can still do things even though it might be harder for us than for others because it is God who strengthens us, and He often uses those who have (had) more difficulties because both we and others will know that it is He who gives us strength and who works through us, and that nothing is impossible with Him. I’m currently reading Amy Carmichael’s devotional, “Edges of His Ways”, which is very helpful, and I have a long-term project myself of writing a book about faith, chronic illness and being a young carer, as it is something that God placed on my heart a couple of years ago. God Bless you and continue to give you strength.

  4. Melissa Frazier says:

    Thank you Bethay for sharing your story and the ways God has taught you during this time. I struggle with chronic illness and it’s alwas difficult when people don’t necessarily understand why you are struggling especially when it’s not something obvious from the outside.

    I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis in sept 17 while undergoing what was supposed to a simple ovarian cyst removal that wasn’t because of the damage done. While I struggle constantly with the treatment, I also was grateful for having an answer for the years of problems. I did struggle with the greater risk of infertility that it brings to my life. But, God has really used this illness to remind me that He is the creator and only He has the final say of what goes on in my body.

    I also have chronic Lyme and was only diagnosed with it last year. It has been such a learning curve for me to learn how to truly lean on Christ and rest in His strength and to know that even when I’m not sure how to go on in the midst of a pain day that He is able and He will carry me through. Over these last 2 years Through the discovery and initial treatments of these two illnesses, they have given me a greater sense of the blessings that God has given me especially in terms of my job and the supportiveness of the people that I work with. I have really had to learn the true meaning of casting my cares on Him and relying on His strength and love.

    Overall God has definitely used these two illnesses to decide what is a priority in my life. If I run myself ragged in the week and try to fill my Friday evening and Saturday with tons of fun activities, I wake up on Sunday too exhausted to go to work. I have had to really think and evaluate where my priorities lay and if making it to Sunday worship is truly a priority in my life then my Saturdays and the plans I make need to reflect that.

  5. Nicole says:

    I thank God for your ministry and how you are constantly encouraging girls around the world and teaching the Truth. Thank you to both of you for sharing your hearts. I have several chronic illnesses, the worst being Fibromyalgia. These past few weeks have been really rough health wise, as I have been knocked down time and time again. This blog post came at exactly the right time! I don’t enjoy feeling like a burden to others, and God is teaching me that I can rely on others without having to repay them. God has provided me with supportive family, friends and Church community which is very helpful during flare ups. The reminder that we will not suffer like this for eternity is what I needed today. Thank you for sharing

  6. Marjorie says:

    Hey Bethany, thank you so much for sharing! I’m so glad you posted this because I actually have the same problem. I get migraines too, and I’ve been getting them since I was around the same age you were when you started getting them (I’m 19 now). The way you explain how they feel is exactly the way I feel when I get a migraine too. A lot of the times, I will throw up when I have one, but if I don’t throw up, I feel like I’m going to until it’s gone. It’s so painful to even open my eyes. The only way I can get rid of them is by sleeping. I usually only get them every 3-6 months, but in the last few months, I’ve had 7 of them. That’s the most I’ve ever had so close together, and it’s been horrible. Migraines are so awful, but it’s good to know that I’m not alone. I’m so thankful you can truly understand how I feel.❤

    • Rosailyn De La Paz says:

      Sister, how interesting and what a blessing from God that you know that sleeping helps you get ride of it!

  7. Marietta says:

    I suffered a brain injury two years ago from a skiing accident at 16. I needed this reminder after a pretty gruesome week. Thank you. When questions wander in my head of “how much longer Lord” you pointed me to the glorious truth that this is not my home. Thankful for the progress, being able to walk and talk again and getting closer to normal. But when set backs come they’re almost harder… a taste of normal and then seemingly ripped away. I so much appreciate your honesty that your life has its struggles too – we can wait eagerly for His return together <3 Hugs and God bless!

  8. Enza says:

    Thank you, Bethany. The timing for this couldn’t be better. I suffer from a rare chronic illness that appears on my skin like a pimple that never heals and no doctor can tell the cause nor the right treatment for this. I had surgery last year and it didn’t come back for an year but now it’s back and it’s quite frustrating specially because I’m about to get married. It’s hard and painful but we must always remember that our time in this Earth is ephemeral and this is an opportunity to glorify God.

  9. Kenzie says:

    Thank you so much for this. I am only 17, but have a disability that affects my mental and physical state. Many times I cannot go out of the house because I am either sick, or have crippling anxiety or depression. Your ministry has encouraged me so so much, and I have been blessed by it more than I can say. Thank you for this. I hope and pray one day I will be able to come to your Girl Defined Conference. It sounds amazing.

  10. Reitumetse says:

    Honestly the first time I saw this post, I didn’t think it was for me; I don’t suffer from a chronic illness but for the past two years, I’ve been getting excruciating period pains. Fast forward a few days after seeing this post, I’m sitting in my bed feeling bad that I had to cancel out on my church evening service because of extreme lower abdomen and back pains, this post has given me hope. Just reading the comments and knowing that I’m not the only one who experiences a “thorn in her flesh” truly makes me feel like I’m not alone and that I’m not exxagerating on a matter that stops me from living in some way. Thank you all for sharing your stories.

  11. Birgit says:

    Dear Bethany, I join the outpour of “Thank You”. My chronic thing to battle is more mental than anything, and I am only seeing a therapist for a few weeks now. It’ll be a long journey to develop new ways and until that I will fall down a lot. Thank you for sharing your own battle.

    What I struggle with most is the voices creeping up in my mind, that if I “truly” believed, Jesus could have healed me already. That I’m not relying on God’s power “enough”. That really pulls me down sometimes, though I know it isn’t how Jesus sees me.
    Do you ever experience that?

    Greetings, Bix

  12. clickhorse z. says:

    I struggle with fatigue, thyroid, and hormonal issues. I am sooo tired. But as my favorite song by Britt Nicole reminds me, I am weak, He is strong. I am small, He is big in love. With Him at our side, we can do anything!

  13. Bella Thazor says:

    read the words “chronic illness” and immediately took my fingers out of my vag to click onon thispo. After the first paragraph I had to take a break to have some wild, kinky sëx with my boyfriend because I was so disappointed. I thought you were either admitting that your entire mindset towards life is so fcuked up that you were referring to it as an illness (which it very much is), or that you had some serious condition that would rid the world of your pathetic and toxic existence, but once again, I was disappointed. So now my boyfriend and I are going to go have sēx with our girlfriend, and because of you, I will be thanking the gods, over and over and over again.

  14. Grace Larson says:

    For the past year, I’ve been suffering from chronic bloating. Because I was scared to hurt my stomach, I restricted my diet and became severely underweight. I almost developed an eating disorder. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve found hope in Christ. Putting my focus off of my life and into helping others really helps. Listening to Christian music also helps. It always puts me in a good place, and helps me get out of a funk. I recommend MercyMe, Hawk Nelson, Casting Crowns, and Aaron Shust.
    Remember, there is ALWAYS hope. If God can get me through this, He can certainly get you through whatever you’re struggling with! ❤️

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