Karlton wrote him back and then sent a copy of the letter to us to see if we would be interested in reprinting it here at Rest Ministries.
I hope you will read it and comment below on what you agree with, disagree with, your experience and more. What advice would you give someone who has just been diagnosed with an illness that may last his or her lifetime?
A Letter to One Afflicted With Illness (From One Who is Also Afflicted)
I think most of my life with illness I have felt it is a battle the Lord and I have fought alone. Beyond praying with me and a bit of encouragement, my little church has only helped me by being there to provide a place for me to worship God.
As for family, my family has helped and encouraged where they could, but they can only do so much, and while they would help me with the burden of illness, I soon learned that if I could not carry it myself, I should not expect them to be able to carry it either. Ultimately, I must give it to the Lord and learn to depend upon Him to help me through the affliction.
It is good that you are getting counseling. To be quite frank, most churches are ill-equipped, ill-prepared, and simply without resources or the ability to provide serious counseling. And some churches are not good at counseling because they have an out-of-touch-with-reality attitude towards illness and the ill.
As far as people avoiding you, I have experienced that most people at heart are cowards when it comes to illness. They don’t like reminders that it could be them that is afflicted and that some day they might have to endure a similar problem. And some church people live with their heads in the clouds and don’t want to face real problems, they use God and church to live in a state of denial about real hardship.
Of course, our Lord did not run from illness or the afflicted, just the opposite, and I’ve found when all else fails, I can depend upon Him for the grace and wisdom to see me through.
I think over time you will get both stronger and wiser as you learn to rely upon the Lord. Accept help from others, and receive their encouragement, but I suspect you will put down deeper roots in your walk with the Lord as He enables you to grow spiritually. I pray things will get better and better for you.