In keeping with my 2013 enough theme, today’s post is taken from The God of All Comfort: Devotional of hope for those who chronically suffer, by my friend, Judy Gann. This book was published in 2005 and I believe this particular devotional will shed more light on my journey with chronic pain illnesses.
Judy and I met in 2003 at the annual Christian Writers’ Conference in Mt. Hermon, which is outside Santa Cruz, California. We got to know each other a bit as we shared our personal and writing stories. Later on, she asked me if she could use some of my story in a book of devotions she was writing, and I said yes.
Side note: the following devotional refers to Rick’s and my wedding taking place in a sanctuary, but we were actually married in the beautiful home of my close friends, Donna and Dub Baker. Here is a photo from that special evening. Those are my children, Alan and Kathy, with us in the photo.
The God of All Comfort is a wonderful book filled with devotions describing people who live with chronic illness with comfort and joy because of their faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ.
Please visit Judy’s site to read more about her and her writing projects.
The Good Old Days
For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. —Philippians 4:11-12
Rick and Anna stood at the altar, surrounded by family and friends. As they exchanged marriage vows, their future seemed as bright as the candlelight illuminating the sanctuary.
Two years later, the onset of Anna’s troubling physical symptoms cast a shadow over their plans. Assaulted by muscular pain, most days, Anna’s energy reserves wavered between low and empty. Although the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia gave a name to her symptoms, Anna’s fragile health encroached on the life she and Rick had envisioned.
Soon, Anna yearned for the “good old days.” She craved the limitless energy she’d enjoyed only a few years earlier. Anna’s mind churned. I wish Rick had known the younger, healthier Anna.
The apostle Paul was familiar with the “good old days” syndrome. Surely in the midst of beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, and imprisonment, Paul indulged in moments of discontent. Contentment wasn’t an automatic response for Paul—something he could muster up for himself.
In Philippians 4:11, Paul stated that he “learned to be content” through the experiences God allows in his life. Bombarded with difficulties, he realized that circumstances do not define contentment. Paul’s secret for true contentment of the heart was found in his relationship with Christ. In Christ, Paul found the strength to accept and meet the challenges of each situation. Regardless of the circumstances, for Paul, Christ was enough.
The Lord taught Anna lessons in contentment, too. The words of her favorite Scripture verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5-6), gave Anna the courage to embrace the reality of her “now.” As she trusted in the Lord, she gained a new appreciation for all she and Rick possessed in Christ. A thankful heart and trust in the Lord’s sufficiency replaced dwelling on her life before the illness.
Unfilled longings are scattered across this imperfect, earthly life. Living with illness is a harsh reality. But as we find out sufficiency in Christ and not in our circumstances, we will experience true contentment. Contentment far richer than we had in the “good old days.”
Lord, thank you that you are sufficient for every need. Sick or well, may I, like Paul, find contentment in you.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” –1 Timothy 6:6
[From The God of All Comfort. Copyright © 2005 Living Ink Books, an imprint of AMG Publishers]