5 Perks of Living with Illness

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There are blessings to be found in every situation, even a chronic illness.

This week marks two years since my little cousin Joey passed away. He lost his earthly battle to leukemia and won an eternal victory those of us on earth can only dream of. Joey’s short life was filled with a lot of pain, sorrow, and uncertainty. Yet his parents and brothers would tell you that there was so much more than just the bad stuff.

While I don’t have a terminal illness, I do have a chronic illness—rheumatoid arthritis—that I’ll likely end up fighting for the rest of my life. That could be another 60 or 70 years, which is a sobering thought—any health problem is. Still, I’ve learned from my own experiences and those of others that sometimes God grants special perks and perspectives to those of us with health challenges.

Here are just a few of the blessings I’ve noticed:

1. You’re able to find joy in the small things like never before. I remember many days in college of walking to class while doing mental fist pumps and silent alleluias in my head that I made it out of bed and was walking that day. (Extra fist pumps if I was walking without a limp.) Never did I dream I’d be so thankful for something as simple as walking at such a young age. I’m not in college anymore, but God still blesses me each day with simple moments that feel extra sweet or extra victorious because of the perspective I’ve gained from living with illness.

2. You get to experience a special kind of deep, intimate relationship with God as you rely on him so heavily through the many, many ups and downs of each day. I think everyone could benefit from something in their lives that makes them fall to their knees and desperately need God. I don’t know God’s thoughts, but I’m almost certain that drawing me close to him was a huge part of his plan for allowing arthritis into my life. My diagnosis came just a couple months before I flew the coop and became a college student, which I think was very intentional on God’s part.

3. At times, you have no choice but to surrender to God-mandated rest. Goodness knows I would never stop going, going, going if I was healthier, but my poor health forces me to slow down or take a day off here and there, whether I like it or not. I’m frustrated by that at first, but the renewal and rejuvenation God gives me always makes me glad he put up that roadblock for my busyness.

4. Even though you often feel less than extraordinary, people around you find you inspirational. It’s almost embarrassing at times because I certainly don’t deserve any praise, but I’ve found that perseverance against obstacles really inspires others. And it feels really cool to see how God is using such an icky thing to accomplish good through you. Finally, probably the best of all:

5. When your body is ill, the thought of heaven seems that much sweeter. I cannot wait to trade my achy, flawed body for a perfect one in heaven! It’s going to feel great. As soon as I get a chance, I’ll be lacing up my running shoes and hitting the streets of heaven (streets paved in gold, that is) for my first marathon. Can I get an Amen?

What are some of the gifts you’ve experienced as a result of illness? Please comment with your thoughts, and share this post if you can relate to it or you know friends who might benefit from these words.

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