Do you ever wonder how you got to the point in life where living with a chronic illness is commonplace? Do you wonder how you got to the point where caring for someone with a chronic illness has become routine? When I was a child I imagined all kinds of things. I imagined what life would look like when I grew up. I imagined all of the exotic places I would travel to; all of the interesting people I would meet; all of the lives I would change. I imagined all of the people I would tell about Jesus. I imagined the house I would have, the husband I would have, the children I would have. In essence I imagined life in all of its fullness! Not once did I imagine illness. Never did I imagine chronic, life shattering pain.
Sometimes I feel like I have been exiled from the world. Do you ever feel like that? Living with a chronic illness or caring for someone with a chronic illness, or an elderly parent, can be lonely. It is easy to feel, and be, isolated. We miss so many events and activities that when we are able to attend something it is easy to feel like an outsider or a stranger, even at church or family gatherings! At the end of Ephesians chapter two Paul explains to the people of Ephesus that because they believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, they are now part of His Kingdom. They, as Gentiles, belong in His Kingdom just as much as the Jews. Read for yourself:
home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what He is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home." (Ephesians 2:19-22, MSG)
Theologically these are amazing verses for anyone who believes in Christ. I want to take a step that most people don’t take and look at these verses through the lens of a chronically ill person. Instead of thinking Jew and Gentile, let’s look at these verses thinking of chronically ill and healthy people. (I am aware of the message that Paul is communicating in this passage and although I take it to a place I don’t think Paul ever would I do think there are things that we, the chronically ill, can learn from his words to the Ephesians.)
As chronically ill people we are no longer wandering exiles. We belong. If we are part of a church or a family or a group of friends, we still belong no matter how many times a month we are able to physically get together. We are not strangers or outsiders. We are insiders because we are with Jesus. He gets us into all the best events! We belong with Him, so we belong. Period.
God is building a home using all of us – each of us, the chronically ill and the healthy alike. It doesn’t matter how we got to where we are today, the important thing is that we are here, worshiping God, no matter our circumstances. Did you know that He is fitting us in, brick by brick, stone by stone? Without you the home wouldn't be complete. You are a special size that fits into a special place. He has something for you to do that no one else can do. What do you think that is? What is God asking you to do that your healthy neighbor or friend could never do?
Are you allowing God to fit you into His house in the special place He has prepared for you? You’re the only one that will fit there. Don’t let your illness become an excuse. God isn't surprised by it. He isn't shocked by it. His hands aren't bound by it. He is ready to use you. He is ready to dwell in you. Are you ready for Him?
Jesus is the cornerstone. He holds the bricks and stones, the Jews and the Gentiles, the healthy and the chronically ill, together in Him. Each day we see more and more of the finished product taking shape. A holy temple is being built by God and we are all being built into it. In the midst of this temple, God is quite at home.
“Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?” -1 Corinthians 3:16
© November 27, 2012