When suffering with a chronic illness like RA, it’s easy to loose hope and get discouraged. This is especially true when suffering with a particularly bad flare for an extended time or when medications don’t seem to be working like they should. Such has been the case for me for the past few months. At times like these it’s critical to reach deep and outside of yourself for hope. For me that meant attending a church retreat this weekend. There were plenty of reasons not to go…the long drive there, fighting the cold and damp weather, sleeping in a different place, hauling all of the supplies and medications, the change in food, the non-stop schedule of sessions and events, etc. But I knew that I needed to attend because it would be there that my closest friends could show care and that I could focus on what was important. During the last session of the retreat a friend came over to pray for me. It was wonderful as he prayed about the things that had been weighing on me…strength for pressing on, finding hope in God, that I would respond to the medications, even for healing. At about the time he was done praying, our worship leader began playing a song called “Sovereign” by Chris Tomlin. The lyrics talk about God being there in both the calm and storm, the dark and the dawn, and that in whatever comes, we can trust Him. These were timely words and a flood of emotions poured out. For the first time in weeks I was able to let go of all the weights and concerns about RA symptoms and medications. Yea, I still feel physically rough and I don’t know what lies ahead. But I know that I can hang onto hope and trust God.
A friend once asked how I could live with all of the pain and fatigue from RA. He said that he couldn’t handle it. Sometimes it is hard to handle but the good thing is that with a chronic disease, it doesn’t all come at once. And the experiences make you stronger, causing you to dig deeper, and learning to foster hope in something bigger than yourself.