By Rachel Greening
I let out an audible “AAARGH” while I hand-washed the dishes. It had been a day of new health information that I was internally processing while I went about my relentless domestic tasks.
A new medication.
A new baseline.
A new limitation.
A new normal.
Because I have a chronic illness, these substantial health interruptions were not new to me. I had been praying consistently for 3 months for the Lord to pass this cup from me, and in a casual way for more like 7 years. Although I felt His presence in my circumstance and was seeking to trust His ways, my situation was going from bad to worse with no sign of healing.
Training myself to stay away from the question of why, I set my mind to meditating on God's sovereignty in all things and how He is weaving a tapestry for which I don’t know the design but am simply a thread in His hands.
And as I washed and I processed and I prayed, all that could come out was a groan.
I just didn't know what to pray for next. While it is completely justified to pray for healing, I felt that my prayers should not assume this one outcome. So I prayed for God’s peace in the situation; to be saved from any side effects; for the medication to properly work; for my BODY to properly work. There was just so much. It was then that the Spirit spoke to my heart…I know.
Groaning and grumbling don't always go hand in hand. When one takes to grumbling, they communicate a deep dissatisfaction with their situation. Grumbling comes from a place of complaining and discontent. And although not altogether disconnected, it's possible for groaning to come from another place entirely.
Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” According to the Bible, the foundation of all truth for the believer in Jesus Christ, I can groan in lament and submit to my all-knowing God at the same time.
So I let out my groan and let it float to my God. I sit in my web of questions yet to be answered. I let the Holy Spirit do the talking. Because as a child of God, I know that I am safe in His hands, although I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I know that victory over sin is secured, although I don't know the amount of pain I may experience in the process. I know that I can trust my always-good God, although I don't feel very good right now.
I want God's will to be done because I trust that His way is the best way. And because God lives in me, He knows that. In my humanity, I wish for His will to feel less painful and uncertain for me. I wish I had the comfort of a healthy body. I can wish on a million stars knowing it’s a waste of breath. Stars cannot change my fate any more than I can.
Instead, I cling to the promises of a renewed body that will be mine when I reach Heaven. I meditate on the comfort that Christ is walking with me on this path. And His comfort is not a trivial matter. It is a deep and rich assurance that carries me through the darkest of nights. He promises to carry our burdens for Jesus tells us: “For my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matthew 11:30).
With a chronic illness come chronic opportunities to not rely on my own interpretation of things.
With each new plot twist in my life’s story, I experience in real-time what Paul meant when he said we are “perplexed but not driven to despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8). There is much in which to be perplexed. I’m a limited human, after all, exploring the ways of a limitless God. There are a number of ways in which this all could shake out. Yet God doesn't leave me to wonder about the ending of my saga.
My story ends with joy because of my salvation.
It ends with healing, in whatever capacity my Maker sees fit.
It ends with an eternal beginning.
In a very real sense, death is at work within us. The curse of sin is seeking to destroy what is right and good in our world, including our bodies made in the image of God.
Yet, there is life in Christ. A purposeful life to be lived earth-side and a perfect, eternal life to come. It’s okay to groan before your God as the weight of sin’s curse presses on you. We can groan in lament, in confusion, and in anticipation, keeping a posture of reverence and thanksgiving before our King who sits on His throne of grace. And as we groan the Spirit will help us testify: “So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:12).
Bio: Rachel Greening is an entrepreneur's wife, a mom of three, and the author of the children's book If My Oak Tree Could Speak. She has been published both online and in print on websites such as Her View From Home and In The Quiver, as well as the women’s ministry magazine, Just Between Us. You can read more of her writing by visiting rachelgreeningwrites.com.