Sunday, October 5, 2014

Home is Worth it

Have you ever had a day where you felt like survival mode had to kick in to get you to the end of it in one piece?  What about a week like that?  How about an entire month or year of your life?  I have.  I think many people with chronic illnesses could attest to that being the case on a fairly regular basis. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are often sucked into the belief that the only way we will make it to the end of the next week, day, or hour is to put on our "game face" and plunge back into the fray with a stiff upper lip.  We look out at what we have to face, look inside at our own limited resources and energy reserves and resolve to dig in because there is no one else to handle it for us.  That sounds lovely, but in fact, after the first round or so it gets tiring.  After five-ish rounds it is downright exhausting, and after several years of doing that on a fairly regular basis, it becomes not only a habit, but an entrenched way of life. 

So, what am I saying?  Is it wrong to it survival mode and just grit your teeth and get through it?  Perhaps not.  Is it where we want to live?  Not really.  Even with a chronic illness, with frequent doctor visits, new prescriptions, side effects, lack of sleep, interpersonal stress, survival mode is not really a healthy place to live long-term.  If it were, I'm pretty sure they would have come up with a more appealing name for it by now. The point is, we can go there for short periods, but some of us live there a little too often.  Christ did not breathe new life into us simply to keep us barely alive and hanging on for dear life (though there are definitely times when that seems like it is all we can do).  Christ came to bring us life that we could live abundantly.  So how do we do that with a disease that seems to zap the life right out of you?  Good question.  I'm still working on that answer. 

I think the key to abundantly living out faith in spite of chronic disease is to stop focusing so intently on what is wrong with us.  Let me say that again -- We need to stop focusing so strenuously at what is wrong with us and get our eyes back on the One who makes all things right.  That doesn't mean it's an easy thing to do. When you're in pain, the last thing you want is someone telling you to just not think about the pain and it will go away (that isn't usually true).  Think about it though--there is pain in this world.  There is heartache and tragedy and sorrow--all because of the curse.  This world is inevitably broken and falling apart (much like our bodies feel on a daily basis). 

We of all people have been given a unique opportunity to long all the more earnestly for the glorious appearing of our Savior.  Our very bodies and the whole creaton are crying out in brilliant harmonies desperately yearning for Jesus to come back and reveal to us who we truly are. 

It's not your typical take on chronic illness, but stop and think for a moment about the fact that your physical disease may, in fact, be pointing you and others to a deeper need.    Rather than let us get too comfortable here and feel too much at home, we are given the privilege of longing for our true Home more than ever. 

That is a gift--albeit a painful one.  Whether the pain is cancer, accompanied by the constant worry of whether the treatment is working, or the constant torment of rheumatoid arthritis, or the steady pain and weakness of fibromyalgia, don't let the pain that accompanies you on your journey Home rob you of the joy that comes in this journey.  It is not because we like pain or wish to suffer for the fun of it, but because we know there is great purpose in it, and a loving reason behind it all.  There is joy in longing for the Home you have never yet seen.  Thank God for yet another way we can see that we are merely travelers in this world, walking through broken, rough ground.