“The Belief Test”
Preparation: Read Chapter Ten 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 week as I pondered Chapter 10, I thought about lessons we can learn through chronic illness. For we will learn lessons, and they will have positive or negative impact on our lives, depending on how we perceive God’s purpose in our illness. Dealing with new symptoms can feel like pushing heavy boulders uphill, when our energy is already depleted. It’s tempting to become discouraged, and to doubt God’s love and purpose in bouts of pain and suffering.
I read a great article by Focus on the Family, called “When We Suffer:A Biblical Perspective on Chronic Pain and Illness”.
The author, Mary J. Yerkes, states,
“Why we suffer may always remain a mystery on this side of eternity.
We can, however, glean certain truths from God’s Word.
– Suffering produces intimacy with God (Job 42:5).
– Suffering equips us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
– Suffering refines us.
– Suffering produces growth and maturity (James 1:2-4)
– Suffering conforms us into God’s image (Romans 8:28-29)
Kimberly Rae made additional observations in SICK & TIRED. She shared her dilemma when an MRI exposed a cyst in her brain, after she had already been diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses. Here are some of Kimberly’s words:
“This latest health crisis was a gift, wrapped up in a test. Not a test by a hard taskmaster who wanted me to fail, but a loving Teacher, who wanted to show me not only where I am strong, but where I am weak; and in that weakness, to show His perfect strength.”
“Here are four things I believe: God is good. God loves me. God could eliminate this problem at any moment and, therefore, because He has not, He has a reason. God will do what is best.”
“Here’s why I think chronic physical difficulties can be gifts from God:
1. They remind us our lives and our bodies are not really our own.
2. They remind us not to take life for granted. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow.
3. They keep us humble, as we have to ask for help and support from others.
4. They remind us of our need for God’s daily help and presence.
5. They remind us every breath, every beat of the heart, every part of the body that is working, is a constant gift from God.
6. They teach us to accept that we can’t fix everything, and that’s okay.
7. They force us to have courage, to face our fears, to accept what we cannot change, because if we could, we would.
8. They force us to prioritize what matters most, because we physically cannot maintain lives filled with extra things.”
Have you ever thought of your chronic illness as a gift wrapped up in a test? I don’t think I have thought of MS in precisely that way, but nearly 40 years of living with MS have proven that it has, indeed, been a gift in many ways.
How about you? Can you see ways in which your chronic illness can be called a gift? Share your thoughts with us as you respond to our group study questions.
Group Study Questions:
1. What has been your biggest disappointment regarding your illness so far?
2. Do you feel like this illness is (mark as many as you feel are true):
– Your own fault? If I’d only…
– Someone else’s fault? Doctor, negligent family, etc.
– God’s fault? If He really loved me…
– God is punishing you for something?
– God has forgotten about you or doesn’t care about you?
– God didn’t give this, but He has allowed it for some reason?
– God wants to use it for something good?
3. Do you believe God is good and He loves you? Why or why not?
4. Do you believe God could take away your condition if He wanted to, so since He hasn’t there must be a reason?
5. Do you feel it’s unfair for you not to be informed of what that reason is?
Read through the eight reasons the author thinks chronic physical difficulties can be gifts from God. Highlight the ones you agree with. Underline the ones you don’t. Then show the page to a friend, or God, and ask what they think about the underlined ones. Could there be truth you are missing?