About three years ago, our family changed. I changed. The diagnosis caught each of us a bit off guard. We had our rhythm and we liked it that way. Well…sort of.
You see, we knew she was sick…really sick. But even as my daughter’s symptoms worsened, the right doctors, the right tests, or the right answers just wouldn’t line up. We waited…and waited some more. And in that waiting, we learned to survive. When you don’t know what to do, you just do the best you can, right? That’s where we lived, just clinging tooth and nail to our ok.
Now, let me say that I have typically had pretty decent luck with military doctors and I have been grateful for them all along the way. However, after a rapid series of moves, our healthcare continuity fell off the map. As my daughter’s symptoms grew progressively worse, I was desperate for a lifeline. Anything. I couldn’t see the Lord in all the hard and all the unknowns.
Yet, as I went to the Word, once again I found some clarity. The disciples found themselves in a similar place, too. As Jesus prepared them for a hard road up ahead, He knew they would need to make a choice. A choice to lean in to the world, the hardship, and, ultimately lean into fear over what they had no control over, or they could choose another way. A better way.
They could choose to pursue life instead.
And as they struggled with those choices, Jesus beckoned them with these words…
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27 (NIV)
You see, Jesus never tries to make this broken life work. He is fully aware that this is not our home. He goes right to the heart and challenges, the feelings that can either paralyze us or set us free. Instead of fear, He offers peace. Instead of worry and anxiety, He extends an inexhaustible grace.
And there it is…freedom.
He doesn’t promise that the diagnosis would be the one you or I want. Believe me, I sure wish He did. He doesn’t even promise that we will be healed, at least not this side of heaven. But the truth is, at the end of this very day, you might still be suffering. You might still be hoping, begging God to move and restore what is broken. That’s ok. He is still faithful. Go on ahead and put that in His tender hands. But don’t confuse His timing for deliverance with your obedience in gratitude. Yes, friends, even in chronic illness we can choose a grateful life. The life right where we are is indeed beautiful if we choose to see it. And if we choose to see it, we surely won’t miss it.
The first step intentionally toward freedom, even in chronic illness, is to be deliberate in taking note of the good. (I know, this theme is in literally EVERYTHING I am writing about – bear with me, ’cause it’s TOTALLY TRUE!)
Not everything is broken. Not everything is hard. But in the hard and the broken that can get really loud, the good is often subtle and easy to miss. Make a choice not to miss it. And when you notice it, capture it. Write it down. You might take 20 steps backwards, but from time to time you will take ones forward, too. Celebrate those hard won inches. It’s worth it, I promise.
I confess, it has taken me a while to discipline my heart to capture the good in the midst of all the hard. But I can testify that when I did, joy got a whole lot easier to capture, too. Some days are still pretty challenging, but hard is not where I live anymore. Not necessarily because my circumstances have changed a whole lot, but because my heart has.
So, if this message is speaking to you, friends, go on ahead and make it official. Choose gratitude. Right now in the very space you find yourself in. Make it a goal to capture daily His goodness and tender mercies. Write them down. Challenge the rest of your family to contribute how they are seeing His goodness, too. I promise you, it’s always there. Become experts at capturing it!
Finally, put your list somewhere where you and your family will see it every single day. Then, read it – again. Often and regularly, read the list out loud to yourself and to your family. Trust me, reciting the good provisions of the Lord is biblical and is all over the Old and New Testament (because God knows how forgetful we can be!).
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
I am happy to report that my daughter is doing SO MUCH BETTER now. We are beyond grateful for that. Our lives and our family are different now, for sure, but I can testify that making this list has changed, not just our perspective, but our hearts as well. We still navigate the ups and downs that chronic illness loves to throw at us, but joy and hope have definitely returned to our sacred spaces…and that’s always a good thing.
Most precious heavenly Father, thank you for your peace that passes understanding. I pray that it would guard our hearts and our minds in Your Son, Jesus, today and always. Give us a greater discernment for Your daily kindnesses to us. Open our eyes so that we won’t miss the bounty of grace You give for each moment, no matter how hard. Help us to trust You beyond where we can see You.
In the Mighty Name that Saves, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The song I want to share with you today is from Hillsong Young and Free entitled, “Highs and Lows.” I included the Song Café, acoustic version so that you could hear the intention and heart behind those who penned it. Truth is, the Christian life is full of “highs and lows” and that’s actually normal. He is with us in both. He is good in both. He never leaves us, friends. Never. Praying you have open eyes and an open heart to capture it today.
With joy for the journey,