Life is hard.
If you live with a chronic illness or chronic pain, you understand more than most just how intense “HARD” can be.
You know that the stress of chronic illness and overwhelming pain can push you right to the edge of your strength and abilities. As you stand and peer over the edge of this cliff, you are intimately acquainted with the feeling that this life is unbearable and that all hope for a better future seems gone. On the really bad days, you might even feel like jumping off this cliff and ending it all.
You desperately need the kind of hope that withstands the difficulties of this life, but where do you find it?
From the very beginning of time, God made a way for us. The Bible teaches that He didn’t want this kind of life for us. In fact, He designed a perfect place, a beautiful place where we would have all we needed. A place where we could even walk and talk with Him. It was called the Garden of Eden.
The first people that lived in the garden with God made a choice that resulted in bad consequences not just for them, but for us, too. From then on, they had to live outside the perfect world that God created, away from the garden and away from God’s presence. Pain and hardship were ushered into this world, and from then on, all people had to experience the negative consequences of their bad choices (kind of like when a child has to live with hard things because his parents are making bad choices).
God didn’t want this for us, not then and not now, so He created a way for us to come back into a close relationship with Him and back to a place where we can live in His presence once again. This place is called heaven, and the Bible tells us it is a beautiful place where we will have no more pain. No more suffering. No more tears.
The one thing that keeps us away from Him now is the same thing that kept people away from Him then–bad choices. We all make them. None of us is perfect. We all do things we are not proud of, things we wish we could take back. We say things we wish we hadn’t said. Some of us even make choices that end up in jail time. The Bible calls these bad choices “sin.” And our sin is the one thing, the only thing, that keeps us away from Him, because sinful people can’t come before a perfect God.
But, here’s the thing.
God loves us and wants us to have the hope and redemption we so desperately need. He wants us to know that there is a better way, a way paved with hope. A way that provides the redemption we cannot find on our own.
Jesus, God’s Son, came to tell people of God’s love about 2000 years ago, but most didn’t believe Jesus’s message of hope. They didn’t believe He was from God, and they killed Him.
But, God is stronger than death, and after 3 days, God raised Jesus from the dead. He brought Him back to life to show us that God has power over death and power over the people’s sin that lead them to put Jesus to death. Power over the sin that leads us to death, that leads us to an eternity away from God.
The good news is that we still have an opportunity to make a different choice. A choice to believe that what God says is true. A choice to believe that Jesus’ death gives us freedom over our sinful choices, too. Choices that threaten to keep us away from God forever. Choices that lead us down a path without hope. A path very similar to the one you might have found yourself on today.
There is still opportunity to find a different path, a path where Jesus leads us and provides for us every step of the way.
How do I know this? Because He does it for me every day. When I read the Bible, I learn how to keep on this new path. I learn how to make better choices. I learn more about why I can live with hope. I learn about His promises that give me this hope even though life is still hard, promises that give me the inner strength to live with the harshness of chronic illness.
And even though I still live with chronic illness and pain here on this earth, I know that after my life is over, I will be going to that place where there are no more tears, no more pain, no more sickness or death. This place is called heaven, and there I can walk with God in a new body not affected by sin, or sickness, or death.
You can go there, too, when you make a choice to believe in Jesus, to ask Him to save you from your sin that would otherwise keep you away from God forever. If you want to make that choice today, just tell God that is what you want to do. You can talk to Him just like you talk to your friend. Ask Him to take your sin and bring you to Him when your time on this earth is over.
It’s important that you know you don’t have to be “good enough” before you can talk to God or before you can go to heaven. You just have to be humble, to recognize that you have sin that will keep you from Him if He doesn’t take it from you. You just have to ask Him to do that, and He will. When you do that, you may not look different on the outside, but you’ll be different on the inside.
It would be my honor to give you a Bible if you want one. The Bible will show you what this kind of hope is all about. It will teach you about the promises God has made to us that give us this hope. These promises will sustain you when life is hard and painful. They will give you peace when life is uncertain. They will give you joy when life tells you there is nothing to be joyful about.
Oh, how we need this kind of joy, and peace, and hope! How we need this kind of love to calm the hurts in our hearts! Without it, we are just roaming this earth hoping the pain and difficulty will end soon. But knowing this great love gives us peace in the pain, strength during the difficult days, joy in the drudgery of life, and hope for the future.
When you invite Him into your life, you’ll begin to realize what is not important and what needs to be the most important. The chaos in your soul will be replaced by the peace of God. If you are searching for real hope and joy, consider letting God’s love for you calm your heart and breathe life into your soul.
“If God is going to do His deepest work in us, it will begin with surrendering to Him. So give it all to God: your past regrets, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Jesus in the driver seat of your life and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid; nothing under His control can ever be out of control…. You will be like Paul (writer of many books of the Bible) who said:
‘I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13)
Now is your time to surrender to His grace and love and wisdom.” (Rick Warren from “What on Earth am I Here For?” pg 85.)
Don’t let anything hold you back from surrendering to this God who loves you. When you invite Him into your life, you are in the safest place in the world. Speak to Him, and tell Him that you want His presence and power in your life. Ask Him to give you strength to deal with the realities of your life. He will.
When you do this, you will have a new relationship with God! A new friend. Someone with whom you can share your deepest thoughts and fears. Someone who loves you and accepts you, even though you still won’t be perfect until you get to heaven. May God’s love give you hope and joy to sustain you every day of your life.
Laurie Miller blogs at God-Living with Chronic Illness, a website dedicated to providing spiritual encouragement and resources for those living with chronic pain or illness. If you would like a Bible, please comment below. You are welcome to pass this post forward to those you know that may benefit from this information, but please respect the copyright privileges of the author.
Disclaimer: The author and God-Living with Chronic Illness do not receive any compensation for references to specific people, books or websites. The ideas posted are not intended as medical advice and should not be taken as such in place of your physician’s recommendations.