“I thank God for my handicaps for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God.” ~Helen Keller
This is one of my favorite quotes that always inspires me. Every time I read it I am reminded once again that God does use our so called “handicaps” whatever they may be to mature us, and grow us closer to Him. Helen was a remarkable woman who did not let her struggles of being blind and deaf define her life. Instead of drowning in self-pity she allowed her disability to make her stronger, and it became a blessing in many ways rather than a curse.
I can relate to this in my own life. Growing up with Cerebral Palsy, I have dealt with numerous challenges throughout my life, and recently been reminded of those challenges more than ever. However, as I look back on the struggles I have had, I am thankful for them because they have helped mold me into the woman I am today. Even though my life has been hard at times, it has been during those struggles that I have truly matured and most importantly grown closer to Jesus! Some of my biggest revelations in life have come in part to the struggles I have dealt with. Do I believe that Jesus rejoices in the suffering of His children? No, but I do believe that He will work everything out for His good, and will use our experiences to glorify Himself (Romans 8:28).
We all have our own set of “handicaps” we struggle with, and it is often hard to have a good perspective. Recently, that has been difficult for me. However, the Lord has reminded me of His faithfulness throughout my entire life, and no matter what He allows in this life I can find joy because He is my Savior. It is not about me and my desires but about Him and His.
Once we drop the selfish attitude is when we start to learn from what He is doing whether it is good or bad. No matter what struggle you are facing right now be encouraged that God does love you and wants to work in you. He can make something good come out of the crappiest of days. So just like our friend Helen Keller take some time to “thank God for our handicaps for through them we can find ourselves, our work, and our God.”
It is hard to slow down and enjoy life, especially in the fast paced world we live in today. These days it’s all about the hustle and the desire to always be more and do more. No one is ever satisfied and culture teaches people to keep striving for more, and good is no longer good enough. In saying this I don’t mean that we shouldn’t do our best and have goals but so often we miss out on what God desires for us because we don’t slow down and listen to what He has to say.
The past two years have been completely life changing for me, especially the last year. I have always had health problems that come with Cerebral Palsy. However, up until now I could always overcome them and live a somewhat normal life. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. I went from living on my own, doing a job I love, traveling, and spending time with friends to depending on my parents for complete care and being bed bound. Most days I do not see outside my bedroom.
To say it has been difficult is an understatement. I often joke that my 30s have not been good to me. I have had to grieve the loss of my former life, and lose part of myself that will never be again. I’ve mourned and let go of dreams that will never be and if I dwell on it too much the Devil likes to creep in with his lies.
The lesson that I take away from this season the most is worrying and fretting about what tomorrow will bring is useless. The most important priority should be to to appreciate the little things that was often overshadowed in seasons prior. Suffering brings to light what really matters and helps one find joy in the simple and mundane areas of life. We can spend so much time focusing on what the world says is good — our job or whatever we are focused on may not be bad in itself but if we can spend too much time obsessing about it and neglecting what is really matters, it can become all consuming. I have been guilty of this many times and have had a lot of come to Jesus meetings. However, in the end when I think about what I am putting before Godly priorities through a Biblical perspective, I realize God is right. It may not always appear this way in the beginning, but when we are obedient to the Lord in focusing on what is most needed, an enormous peace will come into your heart and life.
We can fill our lives with continual work and material things but at the end of the day none of those are important. Are we filling our days with productivity that exudes Christ and others or self? Having a job is a necessary part of life but putting a career and desire for financial gain before time with God and your family can make it an idol. The same goes for any dream. Are you chasing a dream or a relationship that you know is not God honoring but you don’t want to let it go? While worldly pleasures seem good for now, they are not worth your energy. What is worth your energy is living for Christ amd asking Him what He wants you to do. Trust me, it may not be easy and you may not always understand, but if you surrender and ask Him to guide you, He will never let you down. None of us know how long we will be on this earth so we need to spend our days striving for the things of God and not man. Be encouraged today my friends and enjoy the little things God brings your way.
Life is to short to be living a life that weighs you down. Being sick and viewing life through this perspective has made me appreciate the extra time that I have with my parents and the ones I love. Every visit and conversation is such a gift for me now and being intentional about spending time with people is what I’m enjoying the most. Things that I used to love no longer seem important now, and while that saddens me God gives me strength to press on through each day that comes my way,
I first read the book “You are Going to be Okay” by Holly Gerth a couple of years ago, and just started reading it again. The message could not be more timely for me right now. We all have our struggles, and that is evident not just in my life but also in others. We can be reminded of how harsh life can be by just turning on the news where stories of devastation and destruction abound.
When surrounded with difficulties, it can be easy to forget that our circumstances do not define us. Also, when we start thinking this way we begin to doubt, become depressed, and allow lies from the Devil to overwhelm us. It’s in these moments where we need to encourage one another with the truth of God’s word. When having conversations with friends who are experiencing suffering and hardship, they are not looking for fancy advice or a long lecture about how they should be feeling. No, if you are like me, sometimes all one needs is coffee with a friend, a listening ear, prayer, or a phrase as simple as “you are going to be okay.” When sharing my struggles with others, the thing that helps me most is a friend who listens and reminds me gently who I am in Christ. She may not have all the answers but It’s amazing how within a few minutes of sharing and being reminded of God’s great love for me no matter what comes my way, my heart and mind instantly calms. Unfortunately, in this life we will never be problem free, but Jesus loved us so much that He died for us so that we could have hope and a promise of Eternal life. This type of love covers a multitude of sin and worry. He died and rose again so that we could live life abundantly and free.
In our suffering we are not alone. God is with us. Below are some simple truths from God’s word. Read each of these and allow God’s peace to fill your heart. While it may seem life will never be the same again, or you don’t know how you will make it another day, take heart my friend. Reach out to Jesus and let him hold you. His love will carry you and never let you go.
Encouragement for your Heart –
- Because of the Lord’s great love, our circumstances don’t have to consume us (Lamentations 3:22-23).
- Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39).
- We have this hope as an anchor for our souls — firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19).
- God is our refuge and strength and is a help to us in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
- No matter what we do or what our circumstances are God’s love will never fail us. No purpose of His can be stopped (Job 42:2).
- God promises peace to our hearts beyond our understanding (Philippians 4).
- In this world we will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
So take heart dear friends and allow these truths to dwell in your hearts and mind! I promise things really will be okay. Remember that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning.