Tag Archives: jill briscoe

Chronic Hope

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(Printed in the Winter 2015 Issue of Just Between Us Magazine)

When you live with or love someone with a chronic illness, you soon learn that it requires you to make a plethora of unending decisions. When you reach the “D” section in your phonebook, the list of doctors seems endless. Some of these doctors are even programmed into your speed dial. Maintaining a “baseline” is important so there are tests and procedures that have to be repeated year after year after year. You experience physical pain week after week after week. There are questions and emotions that you have to battle day after day after day and sometimes moment after moment after moment.

 

Living with a chronic illness is exhausting. By definition it is constant, ceaseless, persistent, and unending.

 

One of the most challenging things for me about living with Spina Bifida is how many areas of my body it has affected. It affects my bladder, kidneys, bowels, legs, feet, nerves, and muscles. Recently it has begun to affect my neck and brain. I routinely see a neurologist, neurosurgeon, podiatrist, urologist, gastroenterologist, and physical therapist. On occasion I’ll see a shunt specialist, hematologist, and orthopedic surgeon. If I’m bored I’ll see my primary doctor.

 

Let me assure you that I know how exhausting it is. Especially when I stop to consider the fact that despite all of these appointments, there is no cure for my condition. Unless God decides in his infinite wisdom to heal my physical body, I will never “get better”. At most, I can attempt to maintain my current health for as long as possible.

 

This would be so depressing if it stopped right here.

 

But it doesn’t. God has provided a way for us, in chronic illness, to have chronic hope.

 

You see, God will use pain to develop you, but he never meant for it to define you. I have found that the days that I feel the most hopeless about my health are the days that I let my suffering become my sole focus. My whole purpose in living becomes wrapped up in trying to cure it, trying to maintain it, or trying to dull it.

 

On these days I have to take a step back and remind myself that God has created me to be so much more than that. I have to re-read passages in my Bible that fill me up with the hope that God is using all of this for something much bigger than I can understand. One of the things that I love about Jesus’ life is how he specifically chose people suffering with physical disabilities in order to display to the onlookers that he was the Messiah they had been waiting for. These broken lives mattered greatly to him and they became his tools in which his glory and power shone brightly. If you’re hurting today, my prayer is that that brings you so much hope and encouragement!

 

Not only does God promise to use your pain on a large scale, but he desires to use it in a very personal way too. He wants it to become the tool with which he molds you into a person that reflects everything about his character.

 

What would that look like? It would look like a person that is thankful for their doctors, patient with their caretakers, loving toward their family, and even joyful during their colonoscopy. It would look like a person who shows gratitude about the function they do have rather than grumbling about their limitations. It would be a person who cries tears of deep pain, all the while knowing peace is not based on the feelings contrived by their reality, but rather on the truth that God has laid out in the Bible.

 

It’s a person that I have begun to ask God to make me into. It’s a person who’s living with chronic hope.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

-Adri

To order Just Between Us Magazine, visit www.justbetweenus.org

 

 

 

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“Just Between Us”

We are currently in the midst of a semi-major construction project; finishing our unfinished basement. In addition to doing this, we will be re-configuring several rooms in our house to better fit our needs and lifestyle. While all of this may sound fancy and exciting, it really just translates to one thing; our house is a freaking disaster.

As I was attempting some semblance of order, I found myself rummaging through our bookshelf in the office, tossing into a box those books that no longer needed a home on our shelves. During this process, my fingers stumbled onto the bindings of some familiar high school and college journals.

I flipped to the first entry in a worn black journal that I knew dated back to pre-college days. The first entry said this;

“An autobiography…what a looming task! All I know is that it is something I must write. This may never be published or even read by more than a few people, but it’s the only bandage big enough to cover all my pain.”

The words came back to me quickly. I remembered laying in my old bedroom, periwinkle colored walls surrounding me, while I scrawled them with a pencil just days before I was supposed to have what would have been my sixth major spine surgery. That surgery ended up being canceled the night before it was to occur and I desperately needed an outlet for my feelings and emotions.

Unfortunately, one of those outlets at that time was the sharp end of a metal bobby pin against my wrist.  The other outlet was this blank lined piece of journal paper.

As I continued scouring my journals, I came upon entry after entry identifiable only by my handwriting. They were full of a hurt and anger that I no longer feel inside. I had written them in some of the deepest corners of my depression while in college.

I tell you all of this because I want it to be a testament to the enormity of God’s work in my life. Of his ever-sustaining love and compassion toward me, even in those very dark places.

Without his grace and redemption, it would be absolutely inconceivable for me to share this next part with you.

This past spring, I was invited to write a quarterly column for “Just Between Us” magazine. Started by Jill Briscoe at the age of 55, JBU celebrated their 25th anniversary of “encouraging & equipping women for a life of faith” this year. In the process of re-formatting the layout of the magazine, they asked if I’d consider writing a column dealing with physical suffering and God’s plan for it in our lives.

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After discussing it with Chris and praying through what a commitment like this would look like (and thinking of about 100 people more qualified than me to write this), I agreed to the terms and submitted my first column. It was just printed and distributed in the Fall 2015 issue.

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Head Shot Photo Credit: Robyn Vining Photography LLC

I had been a subscriber to JBU prior to being a contributing writer, but it was fascinating to learn more about the magazine. JBU is distributed to over 65 countries throughout the world and translated into many of these countries native languages. It started as a ministry tool to encourage pastor’s wives and continued to broaden to the scope of women it currently covers. What is even more amazing about JBU is that, in a publishing industry that can be cut-throat, the magazine has not only survived but continues to flourish with a staff of six women and a host of donors and contributors.

I could go on and on and ON about this magazine and how God is using it, but instead I invite you to explore it for yourself at http://www.justbetweenus.org .

jill and me

As I let my mind reflect on the memory of the words that my hand etched 15 years ago, I am filled with thankfulness for the opportunity that God has provided through my column, “Chronic Hope”. It’s been an answer to prayer that I could never have conjured up. An answer to that prayer that I cried desperately in my heart when I was 9 years old: “God, you have to use this pain for something good, or else I don’t want to live anymore”.

It’s humbling and overwhelming to know that he is and always has been using my pain.

I know I won’t understand the half of how he’s used it until I’m in heaven, free from the chronic hurt, but for now I take great comfort in the chronic hope it brings to my life.

“The Lord gave the word and great was the company of those that published it.” – Psalms 68:11

(JBU’s founding verse)

-Adri

*Due to this opportunity, I have changed my blog URL to http://www.chronichopeblog.wordpress.com*


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