“What is my life purpose?” you may ask. You may even believe you have discovered it. But many of those with illness find it is different than they ever imagined.
“The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:38-39)
I hear from so many of you here at Rest Ministries who tell me the many ways you long to minister to others. Some of you are still able to occasionally travel on mission trips, but there are also many who are no longer able to do so, due to the limitations of your illness, such as traveling, risk of infection, not being near medical care, food allergies, etc. It leaves you asking, ”
What is my life purpose, Lord?”
Illness can give us such a new and interesting kind of spiritual wisdom and we so desire to go and use this for God’s glory. It can be a natural feeling to want to offer compassion to people who are hurting, to bring comfort to those who are lonely, to provide practical things to those without, even to offer medical care of some kind if you are educated in this respect. But, what happens when God says, “No. Despite your desire to serve Me in this way, here is what I want you to do for Me”?
When I read the story of this healing recently in the Gospel of Luke, I could feel the man’s desire to be by Jesus’ side, to serve Him night and day, to seek ways to make His travel more comfortable, and to even offer his own testimony to doubters about what the Lord could do. And yet, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
I wondered, why did Jesus think this man’s testimony was worth more significance among those he knew; perhaps because they did know he really was possessed and now he was not? Why did Jesus think the man was better off with his loved ones for the strengthening of his faith, than with Jesus’ own disciples? Why did Jesus dismiss the man’s offer and tell him to do something else instead, when he was fully willing to dedicate his life to Jesus, just as Jesus asked His disciples to do?
The fact is, we will never know the precise reason, and it is likely the man did not know it either. But when Jesus told him no, he wasn’t coming, but to go home and tell others what had happened, what did he do? Did he throw himself at Jesus’ feet and beg Him to reconsider? Did he complain and say, “I want to serve You, Lord, and if I can’t follow my calling and dreams, than I am not going to do anything for you!”? Did he weep and get depressed that now he was healed but didn’t get to serve God in the way he wanted. How abut stomp his sandal in the dust and say, “That’s not fair!”
No. He did exactly as Jesus told him to do: “So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.”
Prayer: I know sometimes I feel like I have a certain purpose or calling, but then things don’t fall into place and for some reason You don’t work out the details. It leaves me questioning what is my life purpose. Help me keep my focus on You, not what I can do for You, so that I don’t miss out on the specific plans you have for my life. Amen.
About the author:
Lisa is the founder Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill on their journey with illness and pain, including daily devotionals. Rest Ministries also sponsors National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. She is a speaker and the author of various books on chronic illness including Why Can’t I Make People Understand and Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend She has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nearly 20 years and resides in California with her husband and 9-year-old son.
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Have you ever felt called to serve Jesus in a certain way and felt the pieces didn’t fall into place? Did God say, “Thanks, but no. Here is what I want you to do. . . “? How has God answered you when you asked, “What is my life purpose while coping with this illness?”