As I look back upon my life, I recognize that I grew up with just one dream. I wanted to live in a body that did not endure chronic pain. I wanted hospitals not to feel like my home. I wanted to no longer feel like I had to hide my hands in public. I wanted be a normal kid. I wanted just one day without wondering who might approach me and say, “I heard you’ve been in the hospital. You okay?”
Christians tend to preach against restlessness that comes with chronic illness. Even my closest friends have unintentionally cast my burdens to the side as they have told me to simply rest in the Lord. I have often heard that I am supposed to “give it to God and go to sleep.” I have been told that I should be more like Paul, boasting about my weaknesses because God’s grace is sufficient for me. I have received text messages that remind me to be content in all circumstances, knowing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I have been given cards that tell me not to be anxious or worried, but instead I should give my requests to God in prayer so that his peace will guard my heart and mind.
While battling my birth defect, these verses have been repeatedly shared with me in order to “help me cope” with the affliction. From my perspective, people use these verses to imply that resting in the Lord should overpower my body’s restlessness. And yet, I live in a body that is restlessly groaning for restoration. Even when my heart is filled with joy in the Lord, I still feel my body’s brokenness. My restlessness is a real symptom from this fallen world. In fact, I started writing these words at 2:00 a.m. because my birth defect would not let me physically rest.
Why do we preach against restlessness when we live in a restless, groaning world that is waiting for redemption?
We should feel the restlessness of a world that is awaiting redemption. We should feel the brokenness in the here-and-now as we groan for restoration. As a child, I prayed for God to heal me in the here-and-now, saving me from the grief and the groaning. Now, all I want is to learn how to grow in the midst of it.
Cover photo by Kunj Parekh.