Seven Steps to Surviving Illness
After the sermon yesterday (1/28/18), I had several people ask for the 7 Steps I shared to help survive illness in our Surviving 2018 in one Peace sermon series. Ask, and you shall receive.
I’d like to start by reminding you that in the sermon I shared that surviving literally means “super living.” Surviving doesn’t always mean being made well, and yesterday we talked about the idea that surviving illness often means figuring out how we live in the moment right where we are with illness.
Here are the 7 Steps I shared:
1. Be honest with God and yourself… God can handle our frustration, anger, questions, despair, and everything else as evidenced by Psalm 22:1-3 and Psalm 35:17-18.
2. Allow others to care for you… Jesus allowed a woman to anoint his feet with oil just before the crucifixion. Letting others care for you in times of illness is a gift to both them and yourself.
3. Live deeper… Getting a challenging diagnosis or any bad news, suddenly makes life really real. What’s most important suddenly becomes clearer. Super living in times of illness means savoring the small moments of life we often let pass when we are too busy. Let conversations be more meaningful. Take time to just be with those you love. Savor each and every moment.
4. Give it time… We are conditioned to be impatient in our world today. With instant everything, waiting is not our strong suit. Super living during illness often means we have to wait. Be it for test results, doctors making their rounds, treatments, etc., waiting is a part of surviving. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:34 that tomorrow will have enough troubles of it’s own, so for today just focus on today. Be patient.
5. Ask what you can learn… I had a Spiritual Director ask me to reflect on what I could learn during a bout of really frustrating back pain that lasted around 6 months. When we are ill, we learn a lot about what is most important. We learn a lot about what we often take for granted. And we can learn a lot about our reliance and trust in God.
6. Pray… This one should go without saying, but scripture continually tells us to pray. Although surviving illness may not always mean being made well, I do believe we should always pray for God’s healing to take place. Healing can sometimes be something much deeper than physical healing. Healing may happen within our soul, our spirit, our relationships, or any number of places. Regardless, being in prayer with God is essential to surviving.
7. Trust… When we United Methodists take our membership vows we are asked, “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, [and] put your whole trust in his grace?” Walking with Jesus is about trust. Super living during illness is about trusting that God has us in his hands no matter what. That means trusting in his love and care, and even in his promise through Jesus to create a place for us in the life to come. (John 14:1-4)