Excerpt: 'The Cure for the Chronic Life' by Deanna Favre and Shane Stanford


Our friend, like millions of other people who deal with long-term and short-term bouts of chronic illness, has made the most of her situation. She is a hero to both of us. But having to face each day with a debilitating chronic illness is not the life we wanted for her. It is not the life her husband or children or family members wanted for her. It is not the life her art teacher and her guitar instructor wanted for her. And it is not the life she wanted either. As she likes to say, she has been "left in the middle of a hurricane and asked to carry on life as normal."

But nothing will be normal again for our friend. So, what has she done? She has learned how to live in her chronically ill body, to maneuver with the help of a wheelchair, and to rely on the love, care, and support of great family and friends. But she has also come to grips with the reality that she will never shoot a basketball again. She cannot hug her sons or cradle a baby. There is so much she does because she refuses to live out of fear and loss, but there is so much she does not do because her body doesn't respond.

The same is true for our chronic spiritual lives as well. One piece of our "spiritual aircraft" falls off at a time, until the fuselage is in serious trouble. We may still be in the air, but our potential for flight has become seriously limited. We are weighted by the consequences of this life and by the worries that do not give up their place. We must pluck them from our consciousness, our relationships, and our attitudes and move forward to become whole again, and to become what God has in store.

God is offering a new start, a new opportunity to begin again. He is not satisfied with us just getting by. What you have been experiencing in living the chronic life is just not normal to him.

SHANE: At the start of his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says that "It is not about (us)." I agree totally. But I believe the message is even more substantial. If it "is not about us," that means it can be about someone else: God. And this reality sends an even more important message as we hit the ground and drive the trenches. As we meander through the world thinking that we have it under control, we learn, usually in the most fragile of moments, that not only is it not about us, but we also learn that we are not enough for the task or journey on which we have embarked. This is a frightening, staggering realization. The story or point of its not being about us is sad; this realization of our ineffectiveness and lack of sufficiency while the bullets are flying, while the world caves and the piece shatters in our hands, is downright petrifying.

So, as the apostle Paul would say, "What shall we say about such things?" Sure, the answer is, "If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:31). But God expects our participation on this one, too. We must confront the worries that have mildewed their way into our lives and leave us partially connected but always suspicious; rationally agreeable but always wary. These worries bloom from the ditches and cover the path rather quickly in our lives. By the time we look up, we can't see the stones that mark the path any longer, and we feel that we are wandering aimlessly in a field. Friend, listen to us . . . under that "field" is the path. We just have to claim it, clean it off, and start walking in the right direction again.

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