This month we have been privileged to hear from 3 guest writers: Beckie Miller, Chris Morris, Amy Sandvos. Each writer shared from their experience, they’ve been there. They have experienced struggles and they have seen victories. One more thing they all have in common: they still suffer from chronic illness, disease or pain. Beckie’s husband still has Parkinson’s disease, Chris and his daughter still suffer from seizures, Amy’s son will likely deal with the effects of chemotherapy his entire life.
They, and I, still have bad days. In fact, for the first 3 weeks of this series I suffered a relapse, I was barely able to get through each day. So despite my great improvement from 13 years ago, my body is still broken. I was preaching to myself this month. But time and experience has helped me gain some wisdom, some perspective, some tools to get through the bad days and that’s what I hoped to pass on to you during this 31 day series.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon is known as one of the most famous preachers in England during the late 1800’s. He was known for preaching to crowds numbering in the tens of thousands and has the nickname “Prince Of Preachers.” What many people do not realize is that Spurgeon was no stranger to chronic illness. He himself suffered from gout, kidney disease, “rheumatism”, and depression. His wife was also frequently ill. Here is what Spurgeon has to say about his affliction with depression:
One Sabbath morning, I preached from the text, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” and though I did not say so, yet I preached my own experience. I heard my own chains clank while I tried to preach to my fellow-prisoners in the dark; but I could not tell why I was brought into such an awful horror of darkness, for which I condemned myself.
On the following Monday evening, a man came to see me who bore all the marks of despair upon his countenance. His hair seemed to stand up right, and his eyes were ready to start from their sockets. He said to me, after a little parleying, “I never before, in my life, heard any man speak who seemed to know my heart. Mine is a terrible case; but on Sunday morning you painted me to the life, and preached as if you had been inside my soul.”
By God’s grace I saved that man from suicide, and led him into gospel light and liberty; but I know I could not have done it if I had not myself been confined in the dungeon in which he lay.
I tell you the story, brethren, because you sometimes may not understand your own experience, and the perfect people may condemn you for having it; but what know they of God’s servants? You and I have to suffer much for the sake of the people of our charge. . . .
You may be in Egyptian darkness, and you may wonder why such a horror chills your marrow; but you may be altogether in the pursuit of your calling, and be led of the Spirit to a position of sympathy with desponding minds. (An All Round Ministry, 221–222)
My question for you is this: What do you have to share? What have you learned on your journey back to wellness? Who can you encourage today? Who can you empathize with? Who can you be an advocate for?
Despair and self-pity have a way of creeping in when we become too focused on our own pain to realize that there are hurting people all around us. Those co-sufferers need to hear your story. They need to hear your wisdom. They need to know that they are not alone.
I want to encourage you to take a look around your circumstances and see who you can be a messenger of hope to. They’re out there, waiting to hear what you have to say.