Five Lessons Learned from A Journey with Chronic Illness

walking through life with a chronic illness

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Having a chronic illness is a journey no one enjoys taking. It’s a path of suffering. My personal path has primarily been one of ongoing pain and medical issues over the years.

​As I am writing this, I have a broken bone that hasn’t healed due to complications from a surgery several years ago. I dislocated my shoulder last week, and I am anticipating a surgery for the other shoulder next month. With Brittle Bone Disease, I face many challenges. 

Your journey may look different than mine, but chances are you have had or will have difficulties in your life. Although not particularly enjoyable, our times of challenge do provide us with opportunities to grow closer to Christ.

As I have traveled down my own road of suffering, I have learned several lessons along the way. I’ll share five of these lessons with you today in the hopes that they encourage you in your walk with God and through times of suffering.


1. God is with His children no matter what. 

When my son is hurting, it is not a comfort to him to stand back at a distance and philosophize on why he is hurt. Of course not. My son is most comforted when I embrace him, holding him close, listening to his heartaches. Then I remind him that he is dearly loved and that we will face whatever battle he is fighting together. This is exactly what God does for His beloved children. 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

2. While God does not always change our circumstances, He often uses our circumstances to change us. 

God is powerful and good. But He doesn’t always intervene during our struggles. I don’t know all of the reasons why He doesn’t always miraculously heal or change each situation. But I do know that my ongoing physical challenges have changed me, as well as loved ones around me. For example, I am much more grateful for the opportunity to be alive than I used to be, and my husband and son are more compassionate toward the hurting. These are character transformations that probably wouldn’t have happened had we not experienced suffering firsthand. 

3. God wants all of our emotions. 

We do a great disservice to ourselves and others when we demand Christians only show happiness. Many faithful servants of God have openly lamented about their suffering. The Psalms model time and time again how to grieve losses and be honest with our Creator. Jesus openly grieved when his friend Lazarus died, even though He knew He Himself would raise Lazarus from the dead just moments later (John 11:1-44)! We can be honest with God about all our emotions as we wrestle with various hardships in our lives.

group together


4. Suffering reminds us we are designed to do life together. 

Being connected within a church community helps ease the load during times of difficulty. We need one another. Over the last several years, there have been times my suffering has been so unbearable that I have felt abandoned by God. It is during those times especially that the tangible ways others have reached out strengthened my faith. Each meal delivered, text or card sent, and each prayer reminded me God was still there. Suffering is more manageable when others are on our journey with us. 

5. Our stories of suffering may bring someone closer to God. 

As it has been said many times before, God works in mysterious ways. We never know how God may use our stories of suffering to encourage someone else. If my broken life is an opportunity for someone else to see the grace of God, it is a high honor to live with such a calling. 

As you think back on your own journey with God, how have you seen him working through your chronic illness of suffering? Have you experienced Him changing you through it?

Heavenly Father, thank You that suffering has purpose. It’s hard, but You are still with us. May we persevere and remember that You will never leave us or forsake us. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

For Further Reading: Psalm 34:18Romans 8:18

Carrie Crabb

Carrie Crabb lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and son. She is a former teacher and women’s ministry leader. She is passionate about prayer and knowing God through her various life challenges.





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