As the fall and winter months came and went, I knew my rosebush would need help in order to grow. My dad suggested using a certain type of rose food. Desperate for my roses to bloom, I was willing to try anything. I must admit, I was doubtful anything would help my rosebush. Living in the Sandhills of South Carolina, summers can be brutally hot, and I doubted my rosebush would survive another summer. Yet as my dad has fed and doctored the rosebush, it has begun to grow. As I write this, it is ninety-five degrees outside, and my rosebush is covered with large, beautiful red roses.
Seeing the difference in my rosebush between last summer and this summer has helped me realize something. Anyone living with a chronic illness is like a rosebush trying to survive in a summer with oppressive heat. It's almost impossible to bloom in such difficult conditions. Most people living with an illness wilt and wither. They become sad, angry, and distance; they are a mere shadow of who they used to be. Yet like my rosebush, it is possible to thrive in the midst of suffering. The key is in how we nourish our spirits.
For a long time, I quit reading my Bible because I didn't feel well. I used my sickness as an excuse to not spend time with God each day. Yet because I didn't take the time to be with God, my relationship with Him became dry and wilted. I learned that when I allow this to happen, every aspect of my life is affected negatively. My thoughts become negative and morose, and I am in a constant state of melancholy. But when I daily feed my soul with God's Word and time in prayer, I will grow. My spirit is uplifted, which leads to my thoughts and emotions closely following. It is only when I do this that I can thrive despite the ongoing harsh conditions.
It's easy to succumb to the oppression of suffering - to surrender to the harshness of our circumstances. Yet when we do this, we will quickly lose sight of the beauty that God has planted in our lives and be overtaken with the ugliness of our pain and suffering. God longs to make us grow and thrive, but we must take the first step and turn to Him with the frustrations, fears, and disappointments that come with having a chronic illness. He alone can take our sickness and use it to show others His beauty, grace, and glory.
So how does your garden grow? Are you blooming despite the hot summer sun, or are you wilting and barely getting by? It's never too late to feed your soul and become a beautiful testimony of God's love, but the choice is up to you.
"Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden. And her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody." ~ Isaiah 51:3 (NASB)
(c) June 20, 2012