Thank you so much for sending in your question, it's something I think lots of us who are chronically ill or disabled struggle with. There are two things which really jumped out at me when I read your message; first that you feel God is looking on but not responding; and second wondering how you can stay headstrong with all the difficulties and disabilities set before you, let me take those one at a time.
I don't know what difficulties and disabilities you are living with, but as a disabled person I know how hard it can be to live with pain, fatigue, loneliness and frustration. It is easy to feel very alone in a world where everyone else is getting on with fun active lives whilst we are struggling to get up and dressed each day. It can be hard to stay positive and optimistic, to remember that we are loved by God exactly as we are, especially if we are struggling to like the situations we find ourselves in. When I became disabled I became very depressed, I couldn't figure out what my life would look like any more. I had lots of people praying for me and friends and family were really lovely, but I need time and support to grieve the life I thought I was going to live, adapt to my new life and find hope again. There were two ways I got this support; I self referred to my local NHS counselling service and had several months of counselling which helped me come to terms with the changes in my life and feel hopeful for the future again. It was really helpful to have someone professional to talk to, who could hear my pain and sadness and reassure me that it was ok and that I would in time feel better. And I did feel better, little by little until one day I didn't need the counselling any more.
The other thing I did was thank God every day for every little positive thing in my life. If I heard a song I loved then I thanked God for that. If a friend sent me a funny message which made me smile then I thanked God for that. If I slept well I thanked God, if I enjoyed a break then I thanked God, if I cried and felt better afterwards then I thanked God. Do you see a pattern? At the beginning it felt pointless, but over days and weeks of thanking God for every little positive, I started to spot the hope and love of God all around me. By thanking God all the time, even on the rubbish days, I felt closer to God and more positive.
The second thing which really struck me in your message was that you can feel God is looking on but not responding. Wouldn't it be nice to get a message from God every once in a while saying "hey, just to let you know I'm right here with you and you're never alone". I reckon every single Christian at some point, if not many times, has felt that God is too far away, has felt that God is watching but not acting. It is hard to hold onto faith that God is with us in every moment or every day, especially when we are hurting or struggling. In times like those I remember that everyone struggles in life, that life isn't easy, not for anyone; it wasn't easy for Job or for Paul, it wasn't even easy for Jesus or his disciples, but they kept calling out to God knowing that God was with them at all times even when they didn't necessarily feel God's presence.
I want to end by sharing a verse from Matthew which helps me. I love the gospel of Matthew, always have; and when I'm feeling distanced from God I hold onto the words of Jesus to the disciples in Matthew 28:20 "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age". Jesus promised to be with the disciples always, and so he promises to be with us always. God is with us, not just watching us from afar but with us, in the love of our family, in messages from friends, in care of doctors, in these words of mine.
God is in every part of life, crying with us, laughing with us, living with us. And it's that "us" which is so important - when we feel alone then the best thing we can do is contact someone and tell them how we feelb and ask them to come over, or send a message or pray for us, knowing that God is in it all.
Emma Major- you belong.org.uk
You belong is online support network of people who share the struggles and questions that arise from living as a christian with chronic illness and/ or disability.