“Sit Down and Cry About It”
Preparation: Read Chapter Three this week.
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.
Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.
This particular chapter resonated with me. Kimberly Rae deals with the subject of grieving the loss of our health. It’s a deeply emotional topic for all who have been burdened with chronic illness. Some of my early symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis began after the birth of our second son. (I blogged about my MS history at hopekeepersindy.com, our companion website.) Now, thirty-nine years into that history, I realize it’s been a process of grieving each loss of freedom that MS has taken from me.
In this chapter we are taken to the book of Job, who lost literally everything but his wife and his life. The first thing he did was go through the common rituals of grief. It those days, this involved shaving the head, putting on sack cloth and sitting in ashes. Aren’t you glad we don’t do that today in America!
The next step Job made was to fall down and worship God. Was this your next step after hearing your diagnosis? I remember my first reaction when finally being given a diagnosis of MS after three and half years of chasing from doctor to doctor. My initial reaction was relief. Validation. I was right; my symptoms were not all in my head!
Though I knew God and theoretically trusted His sovereignty, it took a while for me to fall down and worship Him, and actually THANK HIM FOR MY MS. Whoa! You read that right. I would never have come to the point of surrender to God’s plan for my life without the quirks and frailties of Multiple Sclerosis. My headstrong will had guided my life, and the idea of real surrender to God was foreign to me. I have to tell you, though, that it was not a one-time surrender, a one-time grief-and-done moment. It is a day-by-day laying my life on the altar of God’s mysterious plan for my life.
Back to Job, poor man! He was blamed by his friends, saying he must have done something to deserve all the tragedies that happened to him. We read how he verbalized the injustice of these accusations. He poured out his complaints before the questionable friends and God, too. He even wished he had never been born! Even Job’s wife told him to curse God and die! How’s that for loyalty?
At this point, God intervened and set all of them straight. God reminded Job that there are eternal questions for which God only knows the answers. Though God never did tell Job why he went through all of the tragedies and losses, He caused Job see Him for who He really is. When Job understood his frail humanity in comparison to God’s deity, he fell to the ground in surrender. We know the end of the story. God blessed Job the rest of Job’s life and restored to him his health, wealth, and family.
Back to now. God has, in His sovereignty, chosen us to live with chronic illness. Would we have chosen a life of suffering just so we could be tested, stretched, and given more faith? Nope. I doubt any one of us would have chosen this path on our own. I have often wondered what would happen if God chose for me to lose everything. What if I couldn’t see, or hear, or walk, or communicate? What if I lost all my family, friends, comforts of life? What would be left? The answer is GOD.
We need to give ourselves permission and time to grieve. For each of us, the process is individual and ongoing. But we are not alone. God is with us in the process. I love to listen to Audio Bible. I put in my earphones so His word is going directly into my brain, to me personally. I listen to chapters and chapters and talk to God as I listen. I comment on the phrases, ask Him questions, make applications to my own life, and many times simply wonder at the mystery of His words.
My preferred narrator is Max MacLean. Try it. You can listen here:
Here are some of author Kimberly Rae’s own words from this chapter:
“The Center for Disease Control posted that 133 million Americans – nearly one out of every two people – have at least one chronic illness. The Census Bureau projected that 96% of those illnesses are invisible, suffered by people who may look perfectly healthy.”
“I’m no expert on loss and how to deal with it, but my guess would be that most of us are going to go through variations of four categories:
1. Stunned – overwhelmed, feeling this can’t be really happening to us.
2. Emotional – anger, denial, tears, depression, and a whole host of feelings in response to the fact we don’t like this and want out.
3. Broken – recognizing our helplessness and inability to deal with this or conquer it.
4. Accepting – coming to grips with God’s plan even if we don’t understand it, and letting God put His strength in place of our weakness.”
“For some unfathomable reason, however, God has chosen us. Not because we volunteered, not because we want our faithfulness through suffering to help others, but because God has some unseen, eternally important reason we cannot, at present, comprehend.
Knowing this, we can fall down and worship, give ourselves time to go through the feelings of anger or despair, but then come out stronger on the other end. Not because we ourselves have strength, but because we have accepted God’s will, and in doing so can receive the strength He offers.”
Where are you in the process of grieving your loss of freedoms due to chronic illness? Join us in responding to this week’s study questions. We help one another with we share our conditions and insights.
Group Study Questions
To make reading easier, kindly refer to the question number when commenting.
1. Have you ever thought about the fact that having a chronic illness involves genuine loss and deserves to be grieved?
2. How did you feel immediately after hearing you had a condition, or when you realized your symptoms were not going to go away?
3. Right now, do you think you are in the Stunned, Emotional, Broken, or Accepting category?
4. Where do you feel you should be at this point?
5. What do you think a reasonable time for grieving should be for you personally?
Give yourself permission to grieve. What would best help you go through this process? Some ideas would be journaling, praying, talking with a trusted friend or counselor, or getting away for a couple of days.