Praying when we are ill and suffering helps us talk honestly to God about the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that overwhelm us when we are unable to function normally.
My struggles during illness and suffering
I was recently hospitalized for a chronic illness, then a month later hospitalized for a secondary illness caused by the first one. It doesn’t matter what the illnesses are. They are my crosses to bear just like everyone has his or her cross. I was letting my situation get me down. I was letting it get the best of me and change me.
I went from lots of religion and support to almost next to nothing because hospitalization forced separation between others and myself. Once home, I had to beg for rides to church or walk and the music on the radio didn’t seem the same after Christmas. The medicine made it hard for me to read and my attention span and post traumatic stress made my mind wander when I wanted to focus. The focus is starting to come back, but so is anger, and bitterness, and incredible sadness at the state of the world and my own feelings of humiliation and dehumanization in the hospital when people had to take care of me to save my life. It is a little more than I can take sometimes.
I think those more devout have harder struggles, because we are supposed to be setting an example and the devil is working hard on us to break us so that we lose it, snap, so that our wrath and the way we react and respond makes new Christians or those on the fence turn away from God and goodness and love. It’s harder for us because of the constant pressure to live right and not let the suffering and evilness break us and have us turn into hypocrites. I can’t let the world beat me down and beat the Christian out of me. That is what the devil wants.
Sometimes you have to go down a path you don’t want to go down and that you are seriously terrified of, but you have to in order to bring the light back into the darkness. Sometimes the most incredible treasures that you ever could not have imagined are borne of the things that are the darkest, ugliest things we’ve ever experienced. I don’t know why. “It’s a mystery”. Only God knows and only He will reveal it on judgement day.
Jesus’ suffering has been on my mind a lot lately due to my own suffering. He suffered and only cried out to God about forsaking him to fulfill prophecy. He was quoting scripture from the Old Testament “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me” (the first line of Psalm 22). I know God will not give me more than I can handle and if He does, it means I have died and am going to heaven to be with Him and that will be a good thing.
I was thinking my life was on hold and I was desperately trying to claw my way back to it. My mom, reminded me that I am living my life right now, no matter what it looks like. Life is never all rainbows or all darkness. People joke about it being “five o’clock somewhere”. I like to remind myself “the sun is always shining somewhere”. That helps me get through the darkness. No matter how long the night seems, or how bad the latest trial is, there’s always a little water and sun; rebirth and renewal. New life springs from the disaster of forest fires.
This trial that I am going through is making me grow. It is helping strengthen all of my relationships like it always does. My high standards are constantly disappointing me and I am constantly being let down, but that is my problem. My supervisor at my first real job out of college, whom I have utmost respect for, once told me that sometimes people just can’t live up to my high expectations and I need to go easy on them. I know that is a character flaw of mine. Or is it one we all share?
I know but find it hard to face the fact that I let people down when I am sick. All I can think about is getting better, so much so where I don’t know what’s going on in the lives of the people I care about. I want to know but I am so worried about self-preservation, that I can’t. I try hard not to think about it so I won’t worry, for fear my tender heart will break and I will lose hope and die.
I’m starting to get better now and I’m starting to be able to fathom there is a world out there with others in it besides me. I am wondering and worried about others and their problems. I’m becoming human again, with not so much feeling that it eats me up inside but enough so that my empathy is intact.
No matter what we are going through, we must not allow our laziness, or bitterness, or greed, or pride, lust, malicious envy, gluttony, or wrath to mistreat, disrespect, or harm others. God cares and listens. He understands.
My prayer you can use during your times of illness and suffering follows.
A prayer for strength when ill and suffering:
Dear God, my Father, maker of Heaven and Earth, and Jesus Christ your Son, please help me to have the strength, fortitude, patience, and may your Holy Spirit grant me peace and serenity to give me the courage I need to sustain me through all my difficult times and trials so that I may fulfill the purpose you created me to do and be all you want me to be.
Please help me to strive to be like Christ, while fully knowing and accepting that I am only a human and a sinner. Please, Lord, don’t let that falling-short keep me from wanting to try. Please help me to serve—to be encouraged and to be an encourager.
Please Lord, don’t let me think that the bad or harm I cause blots or cancels out all the good I do and have done. And don’t let anyone else think that the bad or harm they have caused blots out their goodness. Please help me remember that I am a child of God, both beautifully and perfectly made in your image. Please have mercy and compassion on me as I know you, the God of love and light, and Jesus, the prince of peace, does.
I love you. Please Lord, help me to hold on to my faith and belief. And don’t let me ever lose hope. But most importantly, help me never to become so bitter or so overwhelmed with suffering that I forget how to love.
The buzzer I have set on my phone as my alarm to make myself schedule breaks is Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind”. I mostly set it to make myself listen to the following lyrics “Don’t expect a free ride from no one. Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why: Bitterness keeps you from flyin’. Always stay humble and kind.”
The verse which inspired this article is Romans 12: 1-2: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
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