Loving and trusting in God while having a chronic illness

For those who don’t know me, I am a Christian and I believe in God, and pray everyday and trust in Him daily. But before my hospitalization, I still prayed to Him, but I was still really weary as to whether He could heal me from my lupus flares months before since they kept continuing (I had light-headedness, fevers, chills, and 2 seizures that landed me 12 days in the hospital). I know that most of my blog readers are not Christian so I keep my faith posts to a minimum, though I know that in our belief system God wants us to spread the Gospel (Jesus’ story and journey to the cross) to others. I know for sure that I went through what I did to be closer to Him, but maybe it also happened so I can help others who are struggling with illnesses and the physical and emotional impact they have.

Oh, I wrestled with God alright. You can read my posts about it here and here. I’ve almost felt like I wanted to abandon Him because I felt like He abandoned me, and kept ignoring my requests to heal me. I started getting so annoyed with the Christian posts from Facebook. Easy for you guys to preach, I thought. I kept wondering about my sister (who also has lupus), “How are you are you still posting Bible verses when you go through what you do?!” (She takes a cocktail full of medications and has to go through Benlysta, a form of infusion).

I even thought it was unfair in the Bible that Paul had a [metaphorical] thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:1–10) that he prayed to be taken away 3 times, and God wouldn’t take it away. Whether it was a sickness or an enemy, we don’t know, but it was something in His life in that he was struggling with. But God wanted to keep him humble. But as my mom, Cecilio and I have been talking, we have been thinking that if I didn’t have lupus, I probably wouldn’t be with Cecilio. I would probably be much more vain and full of myself, and Cecilio is a wonderful, kind, loving husband. He is a once in a lifetime man and anyone would be absolutely blessed to have him. I would not be as empathetic of a person.

Now that doesn’t mean that just because you’re healthy, you are a conceited person. Absolutely not! You are blessed and I envy you. I miss the life I had before all of these appointments, flare-ups, hospitalizations, medications, weight gain, dry mouth, constant worry and anxiety, PTSD, depression, lab tests, seizures, driver’s license suspensions, setbacks, etc. So please don’t take your health for granted. Because I did not ask for this.

I read the book of Job in the Bible, and Job kept asking his friends and God why he all of a sudden lost his land, children, animals and health? His friends said it’s because He sinned. But God spoke otherwise and gave Job back blessings twofold. But as God was talking to Job, He didn’t directly answer why Job regarding why he was suffering. It was frustrating because most of us want direct, concrete answers. But God doesn’t operate on that and sometimes won’t answer directly, so you just have to cling on to Him and believe that even though it doesn’t make sense. That is exactly what faith is about: accepting facts and science, but accepting things as mystery and knowing and trusting that God will carry you through the dark times.

Even though what happened to me was horrible (the details Cecilio and my mom were telling me about what happened when I was unconscious were that disturbing), contrastingly, I am closer to God. I pray A LOT more and I have been reading my Bible frequently. I thought I would be even more cynical and angry at Him. I still break down and cry almost everyday over what happened though. I have PTSD over it. I’ve had seizures and hospitalizations, but this was the worst flare-up I’ve ever had.

I’m still a work in progress when it comes to my spiritual life though, so it’s not like all of a sudden I’m this holier-than-thou person. I refuse to be self-righteous. I am still learning a lot. It’s just that prior to the hospitalization, I may have claimed to be Christian, but I still was bitter, angry and holding onto grudges.

Cecilio and I pray a lot more together too. In the past, we didn’t do so all that much, and I’ve always wanted us to grow as a couple in a spiritual matter. We started to pray more frequently since getting married, but it took this traumatic event for us to be closer to God as individuals and as a couple. It sucks that it took this to happen, but now we are really clinging to Him.

The lupus is my thorn in my flesh. I want it to be taken away from me. I’m only human. But God won’t. My mom and I were talking, and she agreed that yes, I have lupus as my thorn in the flesh, but she was explaining to me that I should not let it define me and that the appointments are just maintenance. During and after every appointment, every time the doctor would say or do something I don’t like (put me back on prednisone or increase it), I would agonize over it for hours and days, text Cecilio and my mom asking for them to pray for me and would just be in plain misery.

Stress is a HUGE contributing factor for getting sick, even if it’s indirect. I remember being so depressed and stressed out about my kidney biopsy in 2013 (my mom was in the Philippines at the time because my grandma had a stroke), so I called her for encouragement and reassurance. Cecilio took me to my biopsy, and I had to stay overnight. It shouldn’t have been a big deal as I made it out to be. It’s just that every time after an appointment, I feel like all I am is a sickly person to these doctors and it feels so demoralizing. But I am more than just that. I am a child of God, loved by my family and friends (though I am wondering why my friends aren’t visiting or trying to talk to me at the moment). Weeks after, I was constantly getting sick with fevers and chills. It took 80 mg of prednisone for it to stop. But yeah, that’s a testament to show how horrible stress is for your physical health.

There were times where I wanted for God to take me away from this away from Earth if I have to keep suffering from lupus. But deep down, I truly still do want to live, and there is so much stuff I want to do and achieve. Especially with Cecilio. I still want us to travel around the world and start a family. God used Cecilio in a way to save me by nudging him to take a day off of work since he had a bad intuition during the morning. He used the doctors and nurses to heal me, even though they annoyed me a lot by constantly poking and prodding me and not releasing me a day or 2 earlier (at least I’m home now!) He used 5 apherisis treatments when antibiotics weren’t working while I was unconscious and intubated. He used my mom, sister, Cecilio and my uncle to spread the word to pray for me, for me to survive. He answered my prayers even if it was not in the way I wanted. My journey isn’t over yet.

I don’t know what you have going on. Maybe you suffer a health issue like I do or are going through financial hardships or marital issues. You may struggle with something in the past that you can’t let go of (for me, it was being bullied). I just want you to know that God will carry us when we are weak, and we may not see it right away or even in the time frame that we want…but He is good plain and simple. And I constantly thank Him for saving me.

Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.

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