Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself that just as he is Christ’s even so we are Christ’s
8 For even though if I should boast some what more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction I shall not be ashamed Lest I seem to terrify you by my letters
10 For his letters they say,” are weighty and powerful but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”
11 Let such people consider this that what we are in word by letters when we are absent such we will also be in deed when we are present
This passage of scripture gives just a little snapshot into some of negative things that were being said about the apostle Paul in the early days of the church and his response. Instead of being hurt and lashing out Paul reacts with faith and stands his ground. A very hard thing to do when you are being persecuted.
Let’s face it no matter who you are there will always be someone ready to put you down at some point in life for how you look, what you believe, how healthy you are or are not. Even the Apostle Paul had to deal with some sort of chronic illness (we are never told what it was) in which he implored the Lord to take away so he would be more effective in his Christian life. The Lords answer was clear, “My grace is sufficient for you”, not exactly what Paul had in mind I am guessing
How and when you are diagnosed with a Chronic illness can have a profound effect on your life depending on how you decided to react to the news. I have been dealing with health challenges from a very young age. I had constant colic as a baby at age of 18 months I was diagnosed with encephalitis and meningitis which slowed my development and I was very tiny. Childhood Asthma started around eight but dealing with Chron’s Disease for me was very hard. I was very sick with loose bowels, chronic stomach pain and chronic fatigue. I remember being carted around to a bunch of doctors that told my mother I was spoiled just wanted attention etc. Thank goodness my mother is a tower of strength and never believed the opinions of those doctors and kept insisting there was something else that was deteriorating my health and at age twelve I was finally diagnosed with Chron’s disease that was so severe that I needed a blood transfusion, endured three bowel blockages that lead to a bowel resection before the age of 21. The hardest part of this experience was not being believed by some of the doctors and the insensitive things they said in front of a child that would stay with me for the rest of my life. Even now I am not immune to the uncaring words of nurses and doctors who seem so detached from a room full of hurting people.
Case in point I went to the hospital for a ventolin mask because my chest was tight and I know when I am headed for trouble. After going through triage and being assigned my seat a nurse came in to examine me. She said you are not even wheezing to which I informed her I very rarely wheeze in an asthma attack now that I am an adult and I do have a peak flow monitor that I use so I know when my breathing is starting to head for trouble. She said that she did not hear anything treatable so I would just have to wait for the doctor to decide to give me a mask. So I sat there for two hours waiting for a doctor. While I was sitting there waiting I heard the doctor ask about my chart to which the nurse replied oh she just thinks her chest is tight. This one reply was enough to help sway the doctor’s opinion on my condition and instead of coming in he continued with rounds while my chest grew more and more uncomfortable. Finally a medical practitioner (different from a doctor) comes in to ask me what was wrong and I went through my story but this time I told him how hurt I was about the way the nurse dismissed the way I was feeling. I told him I have had asthma since I was young and being 49 years old I had better things to do than to sit in emergency if there was nothing wrong. So away he went to get a peak flow meter that kind of looks like a little gun you blow into and it measures how your breathing is. Finally he went in and talked to the doctor and I finally got a mask. I had no problem with the fact the nurse didn’t hear much going on in my chest what I took an exception to was her inferring to the doctor that it was all in my mind. While I was sitting there I poured out my heart to the Lord and told him it is so frustrating to have people pass judgement over you when they really don’t understand what is happening inside your body.
Since I have been diagnosed with fibromylgia I have always been active cleaning houses and working on our hobby farm, and for the most part I had learned how to ignore the pain and keep pushing through. But three years ago I lost that fight and started taking Lyrica to help with severe nerve pain, Upon taking the medicine I knew weight gain was a side effect but I was shocked when I packed on seventy pounds very quickly. As hard as this was I was shocked on how much my weight gain bothered people and how differently they acted toward me. One well-meaning member of my congregation actually touched me on the shoulder and said I just wanted you to know I am praying for you to change your eating habits. It was as if she thought I went home one day and decided to eat nothing but mars bars for these last months. It was a very painful time and I hated to look at my reflection in the mirror. But still the Lord urges me to forgive these people for their ignorance and I do my best to let it go because I know harbouring these feelings will only make me bitter and hurt me in the long run.
The great thing about pouring out my heart to Christ is he knows exactly what is going on in the inside and he knows my heart when so many others don’t because they only see and judge on the outward appearance.
Having to deal with chronic illness can start to get to you and there were times in my life when I felt that I was nothing but a burden to my family but getting to know the Lord has shown me that my outward body has no bearing on what I can achieve for Christ and how I can serve others.
The bible is packed full of stories of very sick people who glorified God just by the way they lived. If Jesus had no lepers to cure, no blind eyes to open,no useless limbs to strengthen and no broken hearts to heal the world would have had a much more difficult time recognizing him as the Son of God. For it was through these first miracles that many came to believe in Christ.
If you have an illness,chronic pain, chronic fatigue, paralysis or lost a limb let no one tell you that you can’t be used by God to reach out and help others. Sometimes the best medicine can be found in forgiving others and reaching out to help someone else.
Now if your brave enough to set out on this path don’t be upset to find that you might be met with some kind of disbelief, ridicule and contempt but take heart all of Christ’s twelve disciples were faced with great ridicule and unbelief but it was through their perseverance and unshakable faith that most of the world has heard Christ’s message to the world John 3:16″For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
For me that message of hope has been life saving and helps to shine great light and joy into what can be at times a very painful existence.