Chronic Illness New Year’s Resolutions – Part 2

There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” -Proverbs 19:21

While it can be difficult to make plans while struggling with chronic illness, I shared last week that these goals, or resolutions if you like, don’t need to be grandiose. Last time, I talked about health goals. This week, I’d like to share some ideas for business goals or resolutions if you prefer.

Part 2: Business
So many with chronic illness no longer have a job let alone a career. After all, pain and zero energy is a tough way to make a living. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t earn money. While it’s difficult to get to a job every day, it’s becoming more common for companies to allow employees to work from home. It’s also possible to make money by doing creative things at home due to a little discovery called the world wide web.

If you’ve had to leave a job you either loved or hated, you can make a resolution to find another way of earning a living or contributing to your household finances with any marketable skills and talents you may have. The first thing you’ll need to do is to take inventory of your skills, talents, and interests. What do you like to do? Is it something that you could sell on eBay, Amazon, or on your own website?

The first resolution you can make in 2020 is to discover what talent you have that you might be able to earn from. Next, make a date by which you’ll be done with your soul searching and information gathering. Then, take baby steps to bring that about.

Do you crochet? Sew? Craft? Paint? I’m a writer. I love to put words to story and I love it when what I write can move people. I can write any time I have the energy. I can do it online in my blog or put a book together which is one of my resolutions for 2020.

I know a woman who wrote instrumental songs that expressed how she felt about the Lord. She planned to put them all on a recording and offer the album for sale. I knew a few writers who make a decent living and some editors who do as well.

There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” -Proverbs 19:21

What’s a talent that God gave you? How can you use it to make an extra income or a living? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be back next week to talk about the third area of our lives that we can plan for.

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Chronic Illness New Year’s Resolutions-Part 1

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit[a] your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” – Psalm 37:4-5

Everyone else is out there making big plans and calling them New Year’s Resolutions. I’m here just trying to see if this new medication is going to help me with one of my issues. But that’s okay because I’m not like everyone else. I have chronic illness.

Chronic issues make lots of things difficult. It’s hard enough to commit to attending a party because you never know how much energy you’ll have at that point or how much pain you’ll be in, but at this time of year, it’s especially hard to make plans for your future. That being said, if you look at it differently, you can do just that.

Who says New Year’s Resolutions need to be grandiose? There’s no law that says you’re a failure if you don’t invent time travel or discover a cure for cancer. You might notice that most “normal” people aren’t planning to rule the world. While you may not be able to plan for perfect health or wealth, you can plan to take a step toward a realistic goal or to something new you have wanted to try.

There are four aspects of our lives I’d like to talk about in this series and the first one is rather obvious for those of us with chronic illness: health.

Part 1: Health
The most common New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight…x number of pounds by such and such a date. At the time I’m writing this, I’d love to lose 50lbs! I’m a short woman (5′ Nuthin’) with small bones so the charts say I should weigh 100lbs. Now, before you all have time to think that this is unrealistic for any woman (even my height or lack thereof), I spent most of my adult life at 103lbs and was quite comfortable at that weight.

While I’d love to be even 103 pounds again, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the monumental task of losing that much weight since I’ve gained so much after menopause and haven’t been able to lose any in the three years post-hysterectomy. Most of the challenge in losing weight for those of us who are chronically ill is the fatigue. It’s hard enough to have the energy to take a shower much less to exercise enough to keep 50lbs off!

But I can resolve to walk a certain number of days per week. I might set a goal to lose 10 or 20 or 30 pounds. Baby steps. They say even if you travel at the rate of a turtle, you’re still moving forward. Moving forward in our goals is a BIG thing for us chronic illness warriors because it’s a much greater accomplishment than anything we ever did as a healthy person. It takes a lot more commitment and strength. Don’t ever discount small accomplishments! Those baby steps add up to giant leaps after a while.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit[a] your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” – Psalm 37:4-5

Some goals can’t be cut in pieces. Some things need preliminary actions in order to come to pass. So, another way to go is to resolve to eat better, learn about any supplements that may help your chronic issues, or sleep better.

They say that it’s not really a goal until there is something tangible to measure and has a date by which you’ll accomplish it. However, that measure doesn’t have to be a number of pounds and that date doesn’t have to be when it’s all lost. It can simply be that you eat better this year or that you spend a few hours a week researching supplements that can help you.

What’s a health goal you’d like to set that you will resolve to work on in 2020? Leave a comment here with your thoughts. Next week, I’ll be back to discuss one of the other four areas of life that we can make a resolution to improve this year. I hope you join me!

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Paul vs Job Part 2: Lessons of Job

You might be asking yourself why I’m starting with Job when the title says Paul vs Job.  The answer is simple.  Much more is written about Job and suffering than is written about Paul so it’s going to take me more time to gain a bit of insight into the lessons Paul has for those who struggle and, since it’s my blog…[sticks tongue out]

So, Job…

There are many lessons we can discern from the book of Job. I think there are several that relate to trials.

1.  Bad things happen to good people:
Though many well-meaning Christians will tell you that your trial and all struggles are due to unrepentant sin, this is simply not biblical.  Job is a prime example of that.  He was a man after God’s own heart whom God allowed to be tested.  Like Job, many of us haven’t done anything that deserves a lifetime of health issues.  Some of us were born with them. Would you say that an unborn baby sinned in the womb?  Probably not.  Sometimes bad things just happen to good people. After all, it’s a fallen world.  Bad things can happen because there is disease in a fallen world or because people who choose to do evil have the freedom to act on it: a drunk driver hits a child causing life-long disabilities. As they say, Stuff Happens.

2. God is always with us:
When in trial, especially when that trial lingers on and becomes chronic, we can feel so very alone.  However, just because we struggle doesn’t meant God has abandoned us.  He is always there to hear our prayers and support us even if our well-meaning, Christian friends can’t.  When a friend tells us we are in pain because we sinned, God tells us we are His child.

3. There is always hope:
Job teaches us that there is always hope.  God may do a miracle in your life and turn around even a long-lived struggle.  After many years of financial struggle, you may start a business that supports your family quite well! In fact, hope may come in the form of making you better off than you were before the trial!  Job was given much more than he was aloud to lose.  I know from personal experience that God has always put my family in a better situation than the one we found ourselves in prior to a financial struggle.  We aren’t millionaires by any stretch of the imagination, but we are in a better financial position than we were a few years ago when my husband was working at the church for minimum wage.  We now have an opportunity to build our business to a point where it supports our family even if he never finds another employer.

4. God Limits Some of Our Trials:
Job’s trails were alowed to continue for a limited time.  Some of our trials, though they may be several months or even several years, may have an expiration date as was the case with Job.

5. We are to be humble:
Job was willing to accept the trials even though he didn’t understand why God had allowed them into his life.  In being humbled enough to accept trials, I think that made God happy.  When one of our children isn’t allowed to do something they want to do, we are blessed when they simply accept that it is ultimately for their own good somehow–even when they can’t see why.

6. God understands when we sin in the midst of struggles:
Job got frustrated with his trials and his friends gave him poor support and advice that wasn’t biblical.  Whether we are in the trial or are trying to help someone in trial, we can sin.  God understands this and is willing to forgive us when we ask for forgiveness because we are sinners.  God knows this and is a kind and understanding Father as we would be with our children if they did wrong and came to us asking forgiveness.

7. We may never know why:
Job never understood why God allowed all the struggles in his life.  Sometimes we may have a glimpse into why He allows us to go through trials, but other times we may never know.  I think I know why God allowed me to go through a few of the health issues I had to endure.

Because of a series of health issues, procedures were done and surgeries were necessary. After one surgery, they found a very aggressive and rare cancer in its infancy.  I wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t undergone all of that.  I also wouldn’t have an amazing testimony that may reach others.

However, I’ve gone through many other struggles for which I have no reasons.  I just need to trust that God is working all for my good because that’s who He is.

8. Acceptance leads to trust and faith:
Job accepted what God had allowed in his life.  He trusted God to do what He wanted in his life, and he had a faith in the Lord.  I’m not sure how Job came to this faith, but I know how I did.  It’s not easy to accept a trial, especially when it has gone on for what seems like forever. However, once you get to the point where you can accept, you will find it much easier to trust that God is with you.  This leads to a stronger faith, I find, in future trials.

Can you think of any other lessons from Job that help us in trials? Please comment.

 

 

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Paul vs Job Series Part 1: Differences

I’ve always been frustrated by well-meaning Christians who quote Job when someone is struggling in trial.  It frustrates me mostly because I remember being deep in trial, overwhelmed, and frustrated at something that had been going on for years and would continue for the foreseeable future. My chronic health issues are incurable.  They can be managed (and at present, they are managed fairly well), but they are not something I expect will go away.  In fact, the older I get, the more difficult they become.

So, when someone quoted Job to me, I felt even more frustrated because my struggles weren’t comparable to Job’s because God restored Job.  It doesn’t appear He will restore me.  Job’s struggles had an expiration date.  Mine don’t.  Most of you reading this will relate to that.  There is a difference between going through a trial (or even many trials) for a short time and ones that last so long your only relief is the other side of heaven.

In thinking about the differences between temporary trails and permanent ones, I began to realize that there is a huge difference between Paul and Job.  That prompted me to look deeper and what I found is that there are different comforts and lessons in each.  I’ll be sharing about that in later weeks, but for now, I’d like to share the stark contrast between Paul and Job.

Job: Old Testament                                                   Paul: New Testament

Job: Didn’t really know God                                 Paul: Knew God and Jesus well

Job: Before the Trial: Righteous                        Paul: Persecuted/Self-Righteous

Job: Questioned God and Complained         Paul: Never complained

Job: Got all back and more                                  Paul: Never healed

Job: Honored by others                                        Paul: Mistreated/Jailed

Job: Family oriented                                               Paul: Ministry oriented

Job: Blamed God for his troubles                   Paul: Praised God for trials

Job: Example of Trusting God                          Paul: Example of a Leader

Job: Man after God’s own heart                      Paul: My Grace is Sufficient for you

Job: Friend’s mocked him                                  Paul: Friends comforted him

Job: Lost children, wife mocked him            Paul: We don’t know

Job: Had lots of issues but short-lived         Paul: Fewer issues, but long-lived

Job: After had honor and wealth                   Paul: Poor/Jailed

Job: Surrounded by “friends”                         Paul: Alone, but supportive letters

I had never considered this idea before but found it fascinating how drastically different these two men were. It’s interesting how different their lives were and how different their faith was.  What other differences can you find between the two men?

 

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Paul vs Job Series Begins

Introduction: Paul vs Job

You’ve probably had someone reply to your plea for support with a platitude or a quote from Job that went something like, “This too shall pass.”  When you’re trial has lasted over seven years or you’ve been living with an incurable illness for over 30 or 40 years, it doesn’t help to hear that Job was blessed with even more than he had before Satan was allowed to take his wealth, health, and loved ones away.  How long was Job’s suffering?  It wasn’t a lifetime, but yours might be.  I know mine has been.

It never gave me peace to hear about how Job’s health and wealth and family were restored to him.  I mean, I was happy for him. I’m happy for all who have suffered and been blessed, but it never helped me to know that OTHERS’ trials had ended or that they were short-lived. Just like it never satisfied me financially to know that someone else had built a million dollar business while I was struggling to pay rent or find quarters in the First National Couch with which to go food shopping.  I was happy for them, but it didn’t help me.

Then one day I realized that it was because I wasn’t a Job. I was a Paul.  Many of us are Pauls.  Many of us struggle with things for a lifetime or at least a long time.  Some of us had learned to find joy despite the trials, but others hadn’t.  I wondered what it was about Paul that allowed him to find joy in the words, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

I decided to look for a study of just how Paul found the joy he spoke of in the midst of so much turmoil.  I searched for a devotional about the difference between Job’s trials and Paul’s.  I couldn’t find one.  Several of my friends suggested that I write one.  Well, I didn’t feel qualified to do such a thing.  So for years I just kept looking.

Then one day, two church friends found me at a book sale looking for just such a book.  When I explained what I was looking for, they both suggested that I write one.  Again, I told them I didn’t feel qualified to undertake such a task, but they both replied that many people didn’t feel qualified and that God qualifies those whom he calls.   Well, I still don’t feel I have enough biblical knowledge to undertake such a monumental assignment, but I do feel God calling me to write about it.

So I will be writing a blog article series on the differences between Paul and Job. I will be sharing my research, my findings, and my own experiences finding joy in the dark places.  I really have no idea where this is going, but I do feel the Lord leading me to follow this path to wherever it takes me.

I invite you to share your comments and experiences along the way and I hope it blesses each of my readers.

 

 

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