My Invisible Disease

When I was three, my parents found out that I had rheumatoid arthritis – a crippling, painful, and an unfortunate disease with no cure. My physical pain caused emotional pain. Growing up I just assumed that the pain would never end. And growing up in a Christian/church-going home, I was really confused about Jesus. I thought Jesus didn’t really love me or care about me because if He did, I wouldn’t be in constant pain. I thought that I did something wrong to deserve the pain. I thought no one would ever be able to love me because my pain would be a burden to them. These thoughts ran through my mind constantly growing up, making me really confused about love and Jesus.

Throughout high school and middle school, I was in and out of the doctors and specialists so many times. It seemed like I had tried every single medicine that was out there: pill, shots, infusions, steroid injections. You name it, I tried it. And it seemed like each medicine just failed me.

Not only had I become immune to the pain, but also to the idea of knowing that this would just be it for me. I would never know what it would be like to not be in pain. (Which is a really awful way of thinking and NOT true.) But when you don’t know what it likes to be “normal”, this seems like the only option.

My RA pain got a little better when I was in college. However, I still went in for steroid injections here and there and switched my medication in hopes that it would get better. But then my pain became extremely unbearable. From Dec 2015-May 2016, I was in the most painful flare ever. My knees were so swollen wearing jeans hurt. My fingers were swollen and writing, typing, texting, or even to make a fist were tough. My ankles looked like they were kankles and walking was miserable. Walking up and down three flights of stairs everyday at our apartment was exhausting. It was so hard to get out of bed in the morning because of how much pain I was in. I had no desire to do anything. I didn’t want to go to work or be with my friends. I just wanted the pain to stop.

My husband saw how much pain was in and I had been letting the pain control me. We decided that we needed to pray more about it and turning our hearts to worship Jesus no matter what the outcome would be. We made it an effort to pray over it each night and that Jesus would change my heart – that if I was “stuck” with this disease for my time on earth, it would be okay. Why? Because God is still good!

Since May, I’ve been seeing a holistic doctor who has been helping me go into remission. I haven’t been in a flare in a couple months, my morning stiffness is barely there, I no longer am taking my shots, annnnnnnd even on the days when I’m hurting, God is still sovereign and worthy of praise. He get’s all the glory. And He is healing me more and more each day. Remission is so close, I can feel it.

See, I thought that if I wasn’t in pain, if everything was “okay” and “normal” then God was good. But the Bible tells us that He is always good. He’s always worthy of our praise. He’s good when we’re not, when we’re going through a rough season, and when our lives are a MESS.  He is never changing. Praise Him!

So, maybe you struggle like me- your faith is based on circumstances instead of being unconditional. Maybe when the going gets tough you just want to go (and hey, I feel ya!), or maybe you’re going through some really hard stuff during this season and you’re just angry with God- confused, or hurting. I get it.

The good news is, when we feel like leaving or giving up on God, He doesn’t feel the same way! Jesus doesn’t look at us and say “you can’t be fixed.” Instead He gets ahold of our messy hearts, cleans us up, and extends grace- lots & lots of it.

If you’re hurting: physically, emotionally or spiritually, I want to leave you with this:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” // Psalm 46:1-11

He is VERY present in trouble and will move mountains for us! He brings peace, gives us comfort, and allows us to be still. He is God! Praying for your heart!

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1 comment

  1. Hey Julia! This is an incredible testimony of strength. I was just reflecting tonight on one of the my most painful struggles in my life. 3 months ago I struggled with severe anxiety that left me bed ridden most days. It was an extremely rough time in my life. I’ve struggled with fear almost my whole life and endured crippling anxiety for the past two years. To be honest I never thought I would be able to hold down a job. I know I can’t relate to you on a psychical level, but spiritually it wrecked me. I thought I was going to be that way for the rest of my life. Eventually I gave it to God, knowing this world was not my home, and that one day I would be free, but maybe not in this lifetime. Thankfully God has since set my free of this burden. But wether or not He had taken it away I know all He wanted was for me to give my worries to Him. Thank you for sharing your story! It’s such an encouragement to keep pursuing God in prayer and trusting Him.

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