Monday, February 11, 2008

Sharing Grace in the Face of Illness

Since discovering The Doctor Is In, I have greatly enjoyed reading this blog.

"A physician looks at medicine, religion, politics, pets, & passion in life."

The doctor has a series going on right now discussing Grace in Christianity. Whether you are of a specific faith or believe in higher power, the truths presented are relevant to all those who are searching for meaning and purpose in their struggles, and who may feel alone and helpless.

Recently, we have been discussing issues of depression, loneliness, fear, and whether or why to reveal our chronic illness to others. Today's message on the doc's blog sheds light on why those who suffer are exactly the ones to help others who are suffering.

"But not all meet these insurmountable challenges with frustration and failure. Some — almost ironically, those most profoundly defeated by these very assaults — find another way — a way which turns their very defeats into powerful, yet humble, victories. They find in their brokenness, wholeness; in their hopelessness, hope; in their shattering, salvation and strength. It is a victory not achievable by force of determination or strength of will; its power lies in utter defeat, sanctified and empowered by the embrace of grace.

"One of the many paradoxes of the Christian faith is this: those who are most profoundly defeated are best equipped to help others suffering these same defeats. No one helps an alcoholic like a recovering alcoholic; no one can touch and comfort one mired in depression like one who has experienced that dark hell themselves — and transcended it through grace. We are afflicted that others may be healed.

"There is in today’s culture a toxic strain of Christianity, a bastard born of a great faith incestuously whored with the shallow nihilism of obscenely prosperous materialism, which teaches that we should all be wealthy, all be healed, all be delivered from every difficulty by a simple word of faith or healing prayer. But quick-fix Christianity is a Golden Calf, an empty shell of a faith made great not by wealth and comfort but by the suffering of its saints. We are delivered to deliver others; it is our pain which purchases true freedom."

This is a message which has been tapping at my door, rattling around in my heart recently. I believe that for some reason the struggles I have experienced have come to me for a purpose. Maybe not a gift to myself - but a gift to others. It is what I do with my experience and knowledge which makes it significant. And it is by the Grace of God which I have survived and will continue to thrive.

So here I am - sharing with you - my life open - to let you know that you are not alone in your struggles.


  1. YES! right on! love love love this post! this is what i feel too. there is a definite community theme going on...just came from diane's blog and i love what she is doing too with her link list...

    i feel very uplifted and inspired by you guys. please do keep going with this...

  2. I like this and I agree with Merelyme that we have a wonderful community that will support one another and share ourselves so that they are not alone.

    Trials basically teaches me to bear others who are facing similar situations(2 Corinthians 1:3-7.)

    Trials come to humble us that we must realize that God allows trials in our lives share our burdens with others.(James 1:3-4, and 12)

    Trials come to us to teach us to value the blessing of God from His perspective to enable us to help others in their suffering and to make us better able to assist others in their own suffering.

    God allows us to learn by experience to help others.

  3. When I was first diagnosed with MS, my co-worker cubicle roommate overheard me say I tahnked God for my MS. She, a very religious, go-to-church person and me, a very non-specific religion/no church going person, she said shockingly,"HOW can you say that?"
    "Because," I said, "God gave me something he knew I could handle, I have been gifted a purpose, an opportunity few get." She just shook her head in disgust. (And such attitudes of "good____fil in the religion" turn me off to church. Too many hypocrites, too little acceptance and unconditional love. MS, if not used to become a better person; if not used to better others...what a waste of life.

  4. What inspiring words, from both yourself, Lisa, and the doctor.

    We ARE strong at the broken places. And the 'good' days, the carefree ones, when they come along, no one enjoys them as much as someone for whom they are so rare.

  5. I, too, have looked upon my MS as a gift. It is a gift to share with others, and I do that. I use my MS for good, not evil.

  6. Beautiful! I loved this phrase you wrote:

    "...sanctified and empowered by the embrace of grace."

    I'd love to explore further the concept of Grace. Your post got me thinking....and feeling.... and breathing....

    Thank you.

    ~ LaRonda

  7. I just noticed in your profile it says you're from the D.C. area. Where??? I grew up in Reston VA.

  8. You each inspire me. Thank you.


    Chris, I live in Falls Church, but my sweetie grew up in Reston where his mother still lives. He graduated from South Lakes in '87 and has several friends from the '88 class. I am amazed....he even has close friends dating back to elementary school. On the other hand, I grew up in Oklahoma and have since lost touch with classmates.