Identity with Chronic Illness

Something I have had to wrestle a lot with since becoming ill is my identity. I have loved God for many years but when I got ill an uncomfortable truth I had to confront was that my identity was closely linked to my academic/career success. I’m still very much on a journey with this and it is likely to be something I have to re-visit periodically but my identity can only be in Christ; he is the only thing that does not change (Malachi 3:6).

I have always been very driven; I got straight As in school, went to a top class university and got a high flying graduate job. I suddenly got very ill (more on that here) and had the job I loved taken from me and the ability to do almost anything day to day for myself. To be honest it was horrendous for both me and my family who did (and still do) a wonderful job of supporting me. My mental health became really bad as I tried to come to terms with what had happened and why. I really struggled with who I was.

It was painful and took a long time for me to work through what had happened including by having some professional help. I spent a lot of time crying and asking God why, this is a natural and normal response which I’m going to explore further in another post. I remember though how he often gave me his peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I knew he was with me even when I felt like I was clinging to him with the last of my strength. He always is holding onto me (Isaiah 41:13) and never leaves me (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Despite how painful the last few years have been I’m grateful that I am God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10), he is working on my character and priorities through what I’m going though. Regardless of my current abilities and capacities I am clothed in Christ (Galatians 3:27) and he loves me the same when I’m ill at home as when I’m busy in church or at work. He loves me the same whether I’m helping people or needing to be helped. He wants me to know that his love for me is steadfast (Psalm 136 ESV); I love the song Reckless Love by Cory Ashbury on this topic.

My prayer today is that both you and I would keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and find our meaning in him alone not in what we have or what we do.

For more on this topic see my follow on post: Where is Your Identity Found?

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