- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On January 15, 2018
- 37 Comments
A young Christian woman noticed that her legs were swelling, mostly her feet. She wasn’t pregnant, so she couldn’t understand what was causing the problem. But that is not my interest in the story. My concern is that she didn’t want anyone to see her with swollen feet. She was ashamed! She believed that no Christian should get sick and so she was trying to get better as fast as possible. (She also didn’t want to be a longstanding prayer or medical project, thereby losing her freedom and control over her life.)
She prayed much about it. In due course, through consultation and careful observation, she learnt that an adjustment in her diet was necessary. She started taking skimmed milk instead of the full cream kind, cut off raw sugar and drastically reduced her intake of sugary products and the problem ceased. Now, this is a minor case. Imagine how worse some with serious and protracted illnesses might feel.Sickness is bad enough. Don't make it worse with the added weight of shame. Click To Tweet
Sickness is not a pretty experience. It comes with a lot of costs. The cost of getting help is often high and add to that: weight loss; disfigurement; loss of body parts, mental acuity or bodily functions. It’s no surprise that those with chronic or debilitating illness sometimes feel shame. However the sickness came about: congenitally, natural organic deterioration as with age, through accidents/attacks, etc., it is bad enough without the added weight of shame.
Sometimes, even friends and relatives of the sick get trapped or sidetracked by shame. No wonder the Web Dictionary defines shame as “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc.” about oneself or another. Note that it uses the word “consciousness,” meaning that it’s the person’s thoughts and knowledge that are involved. Therefore, in whatever way you are affected by this, there are five things I want you to know that I hope would change your perception of yourself and whatever health condition you may be facing.Here are 5 things you need to know if you are ashamed of your sickness. Click To Tweet
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU ARE ASHAMED BECAUSE YOU ARE SICK:
1. Anyone, including Christians, can get sick, especially when they are aging. Believers in the Bible did as in the examples below.
“Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died.” – 2 Kings 13:14
“13. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. 14. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” – Galatians 4:13-15
The great Prophet Elisha and Apostle Paul who performed many miracles in their ministries, including raising the dead, were sick at some point. In Paul’s case, it was something awful in the eyes. That was why he was commending the Galatian Christians for welcoming him in spite of his condition. They were not ashamed of him!
The exception to the foregoing may be if you have a special covenant with God as Moses did.
“And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” – Deuteronomy 34:7
If you think that being a Christian means that you will never have problems, you may be setting yourself up for a shock. The Lord Jesus clearly said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
(Related: A Brand Snatched From The Fire)
We can pray for relief but these things tend to show up from time to time. It is not your fault. We may open our lives to ill health if we live riotously, e.g. drinking and smoking unhealthy stuff and partying excessively, thereby denying our bodies the rest they need. But you probably aren’t doing that. It could be that your body is just following the natural order or you got bogged down by something that’s going round. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Even if you erred and got sick as a result, once you pray for God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself too. I pray also that those close to you will show you the grace and understanding you need because we all make mistakes now and then. But if they choose to stigmatise and victimise you, just know they will answer to God. After all, the Lord Jesus taught us in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats to care for the sick. If we don’t do it for the brethren, we will be held accountable like the goats in that story. – (Matthew 25:31-46)Those who stigmatise you on account of sickness will account to God. Click To Tweet
2. God has promised healing in His word but the final word remains His. Don’t blame yourself for not getting healed. Just keep feeding on the word of God and speaking it over your situation. But remember God is the Divine Physician. The timing and extent of healing ultimately rest with Him, not with you.
(Related: Have You Been Told You Don’t Have Enough Faith?)
3. Your worth does not depend on your health status. God loves you just as much when you are sick as when you are healthy. I know it hurts when other people look down on you or avoid you because you are sick but always remember that the One who matters most will never leave nor shun you. With that understanding, keep your head high. Do it literally when you step out if you can.
4. We are called to take care of our bodies but that does not mean we should worship them. The human body is just a temporary shelter. Eventually, we will shed our mortal bodies to put on glorious, immortal bodies if we have been saved. While this one may be riddled with problems, that one will be perfect forever.
5. You are not responsible for other people’s attitudes. Don’t let them worsen how you feel. You need to understand that many people’s first reaction may be unsavoury if you look different from normal as a result of your ill health.. Some are visibly shocked and theirs may just be a natural reaction. Don’t be fazed by it. When people know you or become familiar with your condition, they tend to act better (stare less, offer help, don’t say rude things).
You may do your best to cover anything that may attract thoughtless remarks though as these tend to stick in the mind of the victims and get replayed over and over, reinforcing their negative feelings about their condition. For instance, you notice some blind folks wear dark glasses …. You could also wear something nice or be accompanied by a pet, a friend, etc. to help deflect the negative reaction.
Some diseases are communicable. If yours is such, follow the medical procedure for treatment, which may require a period of quarantine, till the contagion is arrested. Even if it’s a terminal case, do not see yourself as less than God sees you. But confine your interaction with others to limits that ensure their safety to avoid accusations of endangerment.
But remember that no matter what you do, you may encounter some young or unkind persons who may say some callous or insensitive things. I pray that by God’s grace you can take it all in stride.If you are sick, don't hide when you need fresh air and exercise due to shame. Click To Tweet
Just understand that although your problem may seem obvious, many others who seem to have it all together also have serious problems. There probably was a time when you were well and, by God’s grace, you will see such times again. In the meantime, pray, seek medical and spiritual help but don’t be desperate and make yourself a prey to medical and spiritual charlatans.
A positive attitude will bring healing faster. Don’t hide when you need fresh air and exercise due to shame. Maintain your right standing with God and do not harbour baggage that could block the flow of God’s mercy and grace to you like non-forgiveness. You are precious in God’s sight just the way you are and in His time and His own way, He will perfect the things that concern you.
Amen in Jesus’ name.
The scriptures used in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
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