How the Bible Helps Me with Chronic Illness

Jana Carlson

Jana Carlson

The Bible was the key to finding freedom in the midst of my suffering with chronic illness. These verses affected me both spiritually and physically.

When I say God’s Word is life and breath to me, I mean it. I mean it in a physical sense. Countless times I’ve found myself telling others, “I wouldn’t be here without God’s Word”. I honestly don’t know if I could have survived some of the seasons I’ve endured without it. 

One of those seasons was my diagnosis and intense 2-year initial recovery from chronic illness. Treatment for my condition came in the form of complete lifestyle changes – diet, sleep patterns, overall rest and exercise changes, activities I do and don’t engage in. Medication and other therapies became a permanent part of my life – feeling like a full time job at first.

Our physical bodies are affected by our emotions, our ability to handle stress, even our spiritual condition. But the opposite is also true. So, as I went through medical testing and initial treatments and life adjustments, my soul suffered, too. My mind, my emotions, my spirit needed healing along with my body.

The Bible is Good Medicine

The Bible was the key to finding freedom in the midst of my suffering. It’s the reason my chronic illness is now a gift I’m truly grateful for. Beyond the spiritual impact, God’s Word began to affect my physical healing. As my mind was renewed and my heart began to heal, my body was strengthened to do the work necessary to recover and to adapt to the life God has called me to.

Specific Bible verses ministered deeply to me, transforming me from the inside out. They comforted me, answered questions, reminded me of Truth when I was overcome with lies, taught me, convicted me, empowered me and nourished me.

God’s Word Affects Our Physical Bodies

Hebrews 4:12 tells us God’s Word is a living thing, full of energy and power. If we believe that verse to be true, we must also believe that God’s Word must have an impact on our lives. It must affect us. It must make a difference.

Scripture is full of references to how living according to God’s Word affects our physical bodies. For example, God tells us living by His word will be “healing to your flesh, and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8). It says God will strengthen your body and you’ll be a source of refreshment to others when you allow Him to guide you “in the scorched places” (Isaiah 58:11). These passages mean more to me since chronic illness became a part of my life.

You’ll read more verses like these and how they impacted me in my guest post at The Hallway Initiative – How God’s Word Sustains Me In Chronic Illness. Click over and read the rest of my post there.

Is Chronic Illness a Part of Your Life?

If chronic illness – or even temporary illness – is something you’re familiar with, you might also be interested in reading about The Time God Sidelined Me to Teach Me About Rest.

What Scripture encourages you in your illness? How has God ministered to you in the midst of your suffering? In what ways has your illness become a gift? I would love to hear a bit of your story. Share in the comments. Let’s encourage each other!

Here’s a list of more Bible verses and passages that became medicine to my mind, body and soul. Maybe your own spirit can be renewed, revived, and strengthened, too (Psalm 19:7-8). I pray that, at the very least, your heart would be encouraged today as the Word of God does the work for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11).

34 Responses

  1. I can relate, Jana. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 31, which was quite a long time ago! Lol! Back in the early days, every time my knee flared (one of my main symptoms), I would get depressed for days. But God’s word was always the best place to go for encouragement. In fact, I remember one time sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for him to drain my knee and rehearsing–meditating–on a verse in my mind. It brought me such comfort! Thanks for this reminder and I’ll be praying for you that you remain strong, healthy and encouraged, my friend!

  2. I so admire your attitude: “…finding freedom in the midst of my suffering. It’s the reason my chronic illness is now a gift I’m truly grateful for.” Many of your verses are some of my favorites too. I am so grateful for these truths of God that he has given us over time. Blessings to you on your journey.

  3. I’ve been struggling with chronic migraines for over two years, so I’m definitely going to check out those Scriptures you mentioned. Chronic pain is nothing to sneeze at and I don’t know where I’d be without Jesus.

    1. Oh, friend. Migraines are so hard. Yes, I’ve said many times, “I don’t know how I’d survive without Jesus.” And I mean it with every fiber of my being. “I need Thee every hour.”

  4. Jana, your words struck at a cord in my heart. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue about 9 years ago. My life changed drastically. My diet, sleep, activities all changed, not to mention all the medication that I was put on. However, two of the verses you mentioned have been my lifeline, Proverbs 3:5-6 and 2 Corinthians 12:9 spoke greatly to me during this time. Psalm 46:10 also became a verse I clung to during the struggling times and the times I did not understand what was going on or why God had given me this illness. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  5. I’m still going through a long season of chronic illness. Just when I think a flare up is finally settling down, it starts back up. I am so absolutely, unequivocally am thankful that God is there for me. More than there for me but here with me as I navigate the pain. He has used this as a gift of more time spent studying His Word, I’ve learned more how to meditate on it and how to be Still and listen. One of my very favorites and share so often is “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Psalm 73:26
    #instaencouragers link up

    1. Yes! Thank you for sharing that verse. It’s so applicable to chronic illness. The lesson of “being still” is such a hard one in our society, I think. I, too, have been grateful for my illness specifically because of how it’s taught me to be still and to know God more deeply.

  6. I can so relate to this Jana! Dealing with a stroke this summer and now chronic spinal issues, I have had to rely on Him more than ever! And thank you so much for making that book recommendation!! I am going to check it out. Thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies

    1. Being in a position of complete and utter dependence on Christ is a blessing. It’s hard, but ultimately good. I’m so glad you’re still able to minister through your blog, Diane. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. How wonderful that you depend on the truth of God’s Word for all aspects of your life. I pray you continue to live in His strength everyday. I have a daughter-in-law and a co-worker who both deal with chronic illness. I’m standing on God’s Word for you all. I trust Him to take care of everything in my life because His Word supplied peace for my angst when my daughter was a prodigal. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  8. God’s Word is powerful indeed. He was thoughtful to leave us with the Bible, to set in our hands (or make available) such an incredible tool. Good encouragement here today. Keep wielding the Word, friend.

    1. I have come across Tammy’s blog posts a few times, but I had forgotten about her. Thank you for reminding me! I just went to her site and browsed around again. Her perspective is encouraging! Yes, the Word heals!

  9. Such a timely word… not only is it an encouragement for me to see that I’m not alone, but that God uses His Word to bring healing to our mind (how we think, how we see ourselves), but also to our physical bodies. Focusing on the truth from His Word changes us from the inside out and transformation comes right in the middle of our pain! Always blessed by your writing! <3

    1. Well, Vicki, your writing blesses me, so let’s just keep blessing each other! Yes, transformation is the goal – from the inside out. God’s Word has the power to transform. This life of faith really is exciting! What is God going to do in me today?!

  10. I love these verses you chose! I’ll definitely keep some of them close when I have my own hard days with chronic migraines and stomach problems. Thank you for sharing your experience and encouragement!

  11. Jana I can so relate. I’ve been struggling with chronic pain for many years. In God’s mercy, He began to move at my job to get me medically retired. He has comforted me along with encouraging me to blog and write for Him now in the comfort of my home. He is so good to me. Bless you Jana. ❤

    1. Oh, Donna, what a beautiful story of God’s faithfulness to you! Thank you for sharing that. I pray others are encouraged by your story, too. Yes, He is good. He is faithful.

  12. I suffer with multiple spine issues and Fibromyalgia. There’s not a day that I wake up without pain. I’m still learning how to cope with it instead of complain about it. Praise the Lord for His grace! It truly is enough to carry me through each day. 2Cor.12:9 is a recurring reminder that He has sufficient grace for my sufferings. I’m still able to minister at home, church, and online, so I’m praising Him for that! Thanks for sharing this, it’s a blessing.:-)

    1. I’m grateful you were encouraged by this post. Being able to minister is a gift, isn’t it? When I was put on bed rest after my initial diagnosis, I mourned the loss of ministry opportunities. I have since realized that He still called me to ministry – it’s just different ministry than what I was doing before. He is so faithful!

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