This guest blog post is written by Jo Rohrbaugh, a retired Registered Nurse, who has been equipped through this ministry as a Faith and Health Ambassador. Jo has faithfully led the 10-week PathWay 2 Wholeness Bible Study at her home church on three occasions over the last three years.
In this post, Jo shares her insight about seven biblical principles that can help someone who struggles with a chronic illness.
Thanks for sharing this with us Jo!
Is God continually teaching us through the various situations in our lives? Is He sovereign and in control of every detail and circumstance that happens to us? Yes, I think the Bible clearly teaches us these truths. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” The Reformation Study Bible defines sanctification as “the process by which God’s Holy Spirit transforms believers’ thoughts, motives, and behavior to conform to the holiness of Christ Himself.” It seems that this sanctification process most often occurs during times of affliction than when everything is going our way.
God has used a chronic disease in my life to transform me to become more of the person He wants me to be in Christ. I am thankful for the lessons He has taught me and I’d like to share them with you.
What is a chronic illness or disease? The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics defines it as “one lasting three months or more which generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication nor just disappears.” Several years ago I was diagnosed with microscopic colitis for which there is no definitive cause or cure. Since this diagnosis I have tried special diets, steroids, and over the counter medications. My husband and I have prayed. My Christian friends have prayed. But I still have the condition.
I know that God can heal me completely because He has healed me of another long-lasting serious illness. But, so far, He has chosen to let me experience this chronic condition. I don’t know all of His purpose in this, but I think part of the reason is to teach me some of His principles for living which brings Him glory, blesses me, and equips me to better teach the Pathway 2 Wholeness Bible Study.
These are the 7 principles:
1. Seek God’s kingdom before everything else (Mt. 6:33).
2. Focus on today – don’t be anxious about tomorrow (Mt. 6:34).
3. Know that God causes all things to work together for my good (Rom. 8:28-29).
4. Always have hope in God (Rom. 5:3-5).
5. Pray and receive prayer from other believers (James 5:16).
6. Depend on God’s grace, moment by moment (2 Cor. 12:9).
7. Be thankful for God’s good gifts in managing the disease (James 1:17).
Seek God’s kingdom before everything else. Jesus proclaimed His purpose for coming into this world was to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God” (Lk.4:43). If this was Jesus’ mission, then we, His followers must also make the kingdom of God and His righteousness the focus of our lives. Instead of constantly concerning ourselves with meeting our physical needs which only breeds anxiety, we are to make our relationship with Him the highest priority in life. God promises to meet all the needs of those who trust in Him.
Focus on today – don’t be anxious about tomorrow. Jesus cautioned His disciples – as He cautions us – about worrying over our physical necessities. Instead, He promises to meet our needs when we seek Him first. Therefore, we are not to focus on what we need in the future, but to concentrate on God’s provision for us today.
In addition, we know that God will work everything, pleasant or unpleasant, for our good because we love Him and have been called by Him to become like Jesus.
Always have hope in God. Difficulties and sufferings can lead to hope. Hope from God is quite different from uncertain, wishful thinking. The Lord promises that our hope in God will not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Since God’s love is steadfast, His mercies are new for us each morning, and His faithfulness is so great, we can always have hope (Lam. 3:22-23).
Pray and receive prayer from other believers. James, inspired by the Holy Spirit, reminds us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, that we may be healed. Sin can block healing. Confession to another faithful believer requires humility and honesty. But God says that the prayer of a godly, righteous person has great power. Through the faithful prayers of others, we can experience a renewed vitality to our soul which can lead to an improved physical condition.
Depend on God’s grace moment by moment. The Apostle Paul pleaded with God several times to remove the “thorn in his flesh.” Whatever the thorn was, it was a difficult, painful trial. But God didn’t remove the thorn. Instead he gave Paul His grace so that God’s power would be manifested through Paul. God will accomplish His good purpose for our lives despite the hindrances or weaknesses we experience.
Be thankful for God’s good gifts. God’s greatest gift to us is Jesus Christ, His Son, and our Savior and Lord. But all good gifts ultimately come from above, from our Father. The Lord gives medicines and therapies to help manage a chronic condition. He has poured out His grace through scientific and medical advancements.
Certainly, I would like to be completely free of microscopic colitis, but by the grace of God, I am learning to be content whatever my physical situation. I am able to be content when I remember and practice God’s principles and when I focus on the Lord Jesus. He is my strength (Phil. 4:11-13).
Thank you for this. I am looking for answers from above. I am currently suffering daily with several chronic illnesses and I don’t know what to do about work that I have dedicated so many years in to. My body feels worst at work ofcourse because I am not resting it. Does God want me to continue the struggle at work. Or he is telling me to stop and take care of me and trust him.
I am hoping for his direction and clarity soon. It’s so hard!
I loved the article and I agree with most everything you wrote. There are two exceptions;
First, “#4. Always have hope in God.”
Yes, we are to have hope, but Faith is better than hope. As my Pastor says, “Hope is a great waiter, but not a great receiver.” Hope is for something in the future, as to where Faith is for now. There are so many scriptures on Faith. As I said, Faith is now and we are to stand on our Faith, even when there is nothing else to stand on.
We are given hope, but Faith is something we have to develop and then to continually exercise, daily, even second by second, sometimes.
Second, “But I still have the condition”… Don’t claim this condition. Saying “I have…” makes it yours. IT IS NOT YOURS. This disease is something that has been put upon you by the enemy to try and keep you from the work that God has for you. Give it back to the devil and keep claiming healing over your body.
Thank you for taking time to read my comments. I will keep your complete healing lifted up to the Lord. Have a Blessed day and a very Merry Christmas.
jo rohbaugh says
Hi Allen…Thank you for your comments. I responded to you right away but I don’t think I did it correctly. Hopefully you will receive this. Faith & hope to me are closely intertwined. Both are gifts from God. As the hymn says “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood & righteousness”. God is sovereign & completely in control of what He directly does or allows in my life. My stance on healing is explained so well by an article on the internet entitled- “Why God Doesn’t Always Heal (2 Cor. 12:8-10).by Dr. Sam Storms. If you have time please read it & respond. I would like to hear your thoughts. And thank you so much for your prayers. Happy New Year! Jo
I do appreciate your post.
For 23 years I lived with IBS. Painful. Embarrassing. Then God led me to the answer and within one week symptoms were gone. I shared the information with someone who had lived with Ulcerative Colitis and was about to have part of her intestine removed. She had lived on steroids and white rice. Also, within a week and a half her symptoms were gone.
God can work miraculously or through other natural information. But we do need to rely on Him and seek Him first. I am very thankful for His grace and mercy. That’s the reason I, also, became a Faith and Health Ambassador.
I think your principles are right on target! Thank you.
What was the answer to your IBS that God lead you to?
For me and my co-worker it was potent probiotics. Not the potency you find in processed, flavored, sugared, modern yogurt. But potent probiotics. Recommended reading are books by authors/experts Natasha Trenev and Dr. S. K. Dash. Dr. Josh Axe has information on natural healing of leaky gut. Also unprocessed natural fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha have probiotics.
You need to also consider the spirit, soul and body connection. Someone that eats whole, natural, fresh foods but has high negative stress and emotional toxins – resentment, unforgiveness, anxiety, self-hate – weakens systems and cells in their physical body by chronically releasing fight or flight stess hormones.
Conversely, a person that eats the processed, sugary, standard American diet may not have negative emotional stress but weakens body functions by not supplying cells and systems the right nutrition to strengthen replication and function of those cells and systems.
I agree with Allen’s comment about hope and faith, but in order to have faith you have to start with hope. When you are told – there is no cure, the only option is to manage your condition, you’ll live with this the rest of your life, – you lose hope. You start to accept your condition as your “new normal”. You don’t listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompts because you are convinced if professionals can’t do anymore for you than nothing can be done.
Your faith becomes more of a God will help me live with this condition type of faith instead of a God will lead me to healing type faith.
Ask for the Holy Spirit to lead. Have hope and as Allen said, exercise that hope with faith. Examine all areas; body, soul/mind and spirit. Examine your relationships: with Father, Son and Spirit, with others, with yourself. Examine your possible pathways of disease: nutrition, toxins -organic (mold) and non-organic (chemicals), psychological, physical, genetic, medical, spiritual.
May God pour out His wisdom to those whose trust is in Him for health; spirit, soul/mind and body throughout the new year and forevermore. Blessed New Year, 2016.
jo rohbaugh says
Hi Patti…Thank you for your comments. Would you please share with me the answer God led you to related to IBS?
Jo, Not sure you caught my comment to Cynthia who asked the same question. Above all, God wants us to have a saving relationship with Him. And we praise Him for using whatever it takes to make that happen!
Please refer to my answer to Cynthia. Very potent probiotics was our answer, but not necessarily the cookie-cutter answer for everyone. Whatever has/is going on in an individual’s life, spiritually, mentally/emotionally, and physically may impact our present health.
One of my clients thought she was over hurtful comments that her parents said 50 years ago. But she realized it was influencing her current decisions subconsciously. We shouldn’t assume physical issues are caused only from physical reasons.
We should also not assume everything has a spiritual/mental cause. My husband is still overcoming symptoms one by one that was caused by the mold he was exposed to in 1991. Although the severe sleep apnea and Farmer’s Lung symptoms are gone he still battles pre-hypertension and weight loss.
We rely on the Great Physician to direct our paths and lead us one step at a time thereby strengthening our relationship with Him. Psalm 119:105. Hope and faith. Hand in glove.
jo rohrbaugh says
Yes, Patti, I did see your comment to Cynthia. Thank you for the input. I agree with everything you said about the various causes of disease. My background is psychiatric/mental health nursing so I am familiar with the mind/body/spirit connection. Much of what you mentioned I have tried – strong probiotics & a special diet for leaky gut. An article I would highly recommend reading is an article by Dr. Sam Storms on the internet entitled “Why God Doesn’t Always Heal (2Cor. 12:8-10).” If you have time to read it, I would like your thoughts.
jo rohrbaugh says
Hi Patti…It’s Jo again. I would like to know which probiotics you took. After I was diagnosed, the doctor told me to take Align everyday. It didn’t really make a difference. Currently, I am taking a probiotic recommended by my neighbor. It’s called “Ultimate Flora” by RenewLife. There are 50 billion live cultures per capsule. Does that compare to what you were taking? Thanks for your help. You can email me directly at [email protected].j