Four and a half years ago I was on a run when I noticed pain and discomfort in my knee joints. I rested for a few days and then decided to try again, but the same thing kept happening. As always, I went to talk to my doctor Dad and he told me it was probably something called chondromalacia patella (or ‘runner’s knee’ for those of us who don’t speak latin). He said it was a very common condition in young people in their 20s, especially those who were active during their teen years. All I needed to do was rest and it would eventually get better.
It didn’t get better. Over those four and a half years it got worse and worse. So much so that I can now no longer walk properly. I can’t climb stairs or drive and I am forced to stay at home and rest. I’ve also been diagnosed with M.E. – a condition which means I am permanently exhausted. I’ve had the best care from our wonderful NHS with MRI scans, X-rays, blood tests and specialists, but the treatment is intensive and long and there are no guarantees.
Finding new strength
I really struggled at first feeling as though I had lost all my power and strength. The causes that I used to fight for, that I felt so passionately about, I now wondered what I could give to them. Could I still be an activist while constantly battling my own pain and disability? But God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
We are all individual and different. We were all knitted together uniquely in our mother’s wombs by our creator and he has unique and special plans for each of us. Having a disability or a chronic illness does not make you any less of a person. Iit does not make you any less loved by God. There is not one type of Christian and there is certainly not one type of activist. God can and will use you in your perfect unique way to create change on his earth. The worst thing you can do is stop.
A new outlook
The one thing I have learnt through all of this, is that God can often use difficult situations to help us learn more and gain a deeper relationship with him. It can seem very scary when you are going through suffering and hardship and often times I’ve felt very alone. It’s tempting to go inwards, to forget everyone else’s suffering and think only of your own. But we are capable of so much more. Using our experience through our own suffering and hardship we can gain a better understanding of the injustices we see in the world. We can have more empathy and this in turn will help us to bring about the change we want to see in the world.
I don’t know what you are struggling with today. Perhaps it’s mental illness, or like me physical illness. It could be an injury or maybe a disability you were born with, but none of that takes away from who you are. You are still first and foremost a child of God and therefore a bringer of the kingdom. You can still do so much good you need only ask God to send you where he wants you. He knows your limitations, he will never push you past what you can cope with. Trust the journey, trust where he has placed you and go forward knowing he is always there leading you to the right place. Take a step of faith today and I bet you won’t be disappointed.