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Abounding Love: My Life with Chronic Illness

If God can heal me, why doesn’t he? Surely, many have concluded, such a God who could heal but chooses not to cannot be a God of love.

In fact, the testimony of my life proclaims the exact opposite.

Chronic Illness and the Love of God

Looking to the cross and to the resurrection illuminates how God relates to any type of suffering, including chronic illness. God shows us he hates sin, death, and evil because he gave himself fully to destroy it for us. Jesus Christ sacrificed himself in love, bore the death I deserved, and defeated the death I could not defeat myself in his resurrection.

This is the most basic truth of my life: the Triune God loves me so much and so deeply that he became incarnate in the Son to live in my place and confront the death that plagues me though my illness. Since chronic illness is a form of experiencing the effects of death on this world, Christ’s defeat of death frees me from slavery to chronic illness.

Certainly, this freedom may mean in some cases that God will physically heal the body in the here and now. However, the hope offered to the chronically ill through Christ’s self-giving love runs far deeper than merely physical healing in this life.

Merely physically healing! Perhaps only those who have suffered under such an illness or stood close to a loved one who has will understand the gravity of the statement that God’s love for us so outweighs our present suffering that we may refer to physical relief in this life from our current suffering as “merely” physical healing.

A gift I experience because of my chronic illness is that I know in a manner that is deeper than some how much God loves me, because my illness reminds me of it all the time.

How can that be? Shouldn’t my illness remind me that God doesn’t love me?

Though at first glance it may seem counterintuitive, the moments I experience my daily pain and suffering are the very moments I am reminded to look to the cross. In fact, my pain almost forces me to look at the cross, giving me no choice but to cling to it desperately.

Since Christ’s self-giving and loving sacrifice on the cross was a display of God’s true character, I have a near-constant reminder of who God is: “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Thus, when I experience my daily pain and suffering, I am reminded that God is love.