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Hey y’all, Tiffany here.
If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you have a chronic illness, you may be interested in joining our Facebook group specifically for chronically ill Latter-day Saints.
Or worse, to believe that God has the power to heal, but He doesn’t love us. Or our faith isn’t strong enough.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s this:
The faith to be healed is easy. It’s the faith to NOT be healed that is hard. When you believe that God can heal you but chooses not do so, can you still trust Him? Trust His love for you?
When God Doesn’t Fix It
We have learned a lot about trusting God over the last several years. And everything we learned can be summed up in the book “When God Doesn’t Fix It,” by Laura Story.
If you don’t know who Laura is, you may have at least heard one of her songs. It’s a favorite of ours, and we’ve included it in our master list of over 150 inspirational resources during difficult times.
To make a long story short, Laura is a Christian musician. Her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor that permanent destroyed his short-term memory. They were newlyweds when all of this occurred.
Her book goes through her journey and how her faith in God grew.
When Phillip and I read her book for the first time, it put into words everything that we had already been learning through our own trials. It helped reinforce that we were not alone – that what we were learning about God was not just our imagination or or ego.
Myths Versus Truths
In each chapter, Laura discusses a myth about God and faith, and dispels it with a truth that she has learned. Here is some of what stands out to me the most:
|Trials are a curse.||Trials are an opportunity.|
|God’s primary desire is to fix broken things.||God’s primary desire is to fix my broken relationship with him.|
|The plan I have for my life is much better than the place where God has me right now.||Where God has me right now is the best place for me.|
|I gain by holding on.||I gain by letting go.|
|God can only use my story when there is a happy ending.||God can use my story when I trust Him in the journey.|
|I am defined by my past.||God redeems my past and gives me a future.|
|My story isn’t worth much.||My story is my greatest offering.|
|I must work to keep my dreams alive.||I can rest when I release my dreams to the hands of my loving Father.|
|God is withholding what I want because He is punishing me.||God is withholding what I want because He has something better for me.|
|Things have to get better before I can get better.||My situation may not get better, but I can get better.|
I want to discuss six of these truths (not all, or this post would never end!), and talk about how we’ve seen them in our lives.
Trials are an opportunity.
One of my favorite scriptures is in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul talks about a “thorn in the flesh” that God doesn’t remove. God tells Paul instead that “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul then says, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Trials are an opportunity to discover your weaknesses and turn them into strengths with Christ’s help.
Can you say that you take pleasure in your difficult times?I’m aren’t quite there yet, but I am trying to keep that attitude! The talk “Come What May and Love It” by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin walks through how to love the hard times and develop this positive attitude.
Where God has me right now is the best place for me.
Phillip and I had a bit of a rocky courtship. That’s a story for another time, but basically we almost got married, broke up and moved to separate states for a year, and then got back together and were married. It’s easy to look at that and think, “You should have just done it the first time!”
But what you don’t see is that in the year we were apart, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s and was able to have my parents to help her through it. Phillip was able to gain confidence in who he was and what he wanted to be.
When we got married, we planned to have me teach while Phillip got his master’s degree, and then start a family. Instead, I got very ill and then pregnant (while on the pill), so Phillip graduated with his bachelor’s and immediately began working.
At the time, it was so disheartening. But looking back, we wouldn’t change anything.
Not. One. Thing.
Our life is so much more amazing than what we could have imagined.
God can use my story when I trust Him in the journey
A few years ago, there was an Olympic swimmer named Kathleen Baker. Even more amazing than the fact that she’s been to the Olympics is that she did it with Crohn’s disease.
Now, I hasn’t really accomplished anything as incredible as going to the Olympics or being a famous actress like Shannen Doherty – at least, in the eyes of the world.
But the difference that I can make in the lives of individual people is just as important. I can help inspire them more deeply by being “just Tiffany” than I would if I were too busy being “big” to know them personally. I may not be an inspiration to millions of people, but I am affecting the lives of each of my acquaintances one at a time. And the value of one person’s soul is great in the eyes of God.
(Note: this are Phillip’s words, not mine! I wanted to take this part out, but Phillip won’t let me.)
If you want to help other chronically ill people like you, join Rare Patient Voice. It’s an organization that facilitates communication between patients and the medical community – and you always get paid for the opportunity! If you qualify, you’ll receive a $5 Amazon gift card.
God is withholding what I want because He has something better for me.
It is so easy to feel like God not answering your pleadings with Him to ease your path is because He is punishing you.
But He isn’t!
Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”
God knew us before we were born, and He planned our life for us. He promised us He would do everything He could to bring us back to Him.
When God doesn’t answer your prayers, it is because He is keeping a promise to you that He already made before you were born.
My situation may not get better, but I can get better.
Whenever I discuss my health with someone I have just met (like a new doctor, or the random person on the bus), they are often amazed by how positive and happy I am.
(Again, these embarrassingly flattering words are from Phillip.)
I never yells at the nurses, even if they treat me like a pin cushion trying to get an IV in or are late with pain meds. I don’t lament about what could have been. I don’t wish that things were different.
Instead, this is my response:
I can’t change how sick I am. I only have two choices: I can be sick and miserable, or I can be sick and happy. I would much rather be sick and happy.
You may not be able to change the circumstance that you’re in. All you can do is change yourself.
My story is my greatest offering
People often say, “Don’t let that [insert difficult experience] define you!”
But they’re wrong!
What you are going through can be your greatest blessing! How you handle your story, your life, is the greatest gift that you can give to God.
You should let your circumstances define you! Otherwise you’re just wasting the trial that God has given you. Let it define you for the better!
My Crohn’s is just as much a part of me as being a mother, or being a math teacher. My time spent being ill has shaped me because I let it shape me.
In 2 Corinthians 12 when Paul discusses his “thorn in the flesh,” he admits that he asked the Lord three times before the Lord tells him that the thorn is for his good. Once Paul stopped fighting the trial that was happening to him, he was able to continue to grow as a follower of Jesus Christ.
We have all gone through a trial that we have pleaded with God to take away. When He doesn’t, and you refuse to be comforted about it, then it’s as if the trial is for nothing. You’ll have suffered for nothing. But if you let it change you, define you, shape you like clay in the potter’s hand, then it will have purpose.
No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.
That doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard. When it is hard, I turn to this list of over 150 resources I’ve put together to help me get through it. There are song, scriptures, General Conference talks, and more.
Read the book!
This is just a small highlight of what you can get out of When God Doesn’t Fix It,” by Laura Story. It is an incredible book! I strongly recommend you purchase it or check it out from your local library.
An earlier version of this post was written by Tiffany on The Crazy Shopping Cart