Thank you, Oksana, for sharing the rest of your story with us! (Two weeks ago we published Part 1, and last week we published Part 2.)
What Scriptures spoke to you in your times of need?
At that time of my wilderness, there were a lot of Scripture messages that helped me and God used to speak to my heart on a regular basis.
One of my favorite passages is Isaiah 55:8-9:
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.'”
It helped me in my walk with the Lord to know that I know so little and God knows everything. And whatever He brings my way, it’s good for me because He has good intentions for me. It’s not to destroy me but to bring something good into my life.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28
This verse includes all things. It doesn’t say certain things. It says all things. And I kept telling myself that this situation is also for my good. My loving Father wants something good. I may not understand it, but I trust God’s Word, so it must be true.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart,Proverbs 3:5-6
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”
So often I wandered away from the Lord in my thinking because my heart led me to believe that God didn’t love me, that He didn’t care about me. I went all sorts of ways because I couldn’t understand with my mind.
But God’s Word teaches us to trust the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding. Your understanding is never right because you’re influenced by your circumstances, your hurt, your family situations. Everything influences you, and your heart makes you believe the lie that Satan brings your way.
But God knows the truth and we have to trust Him. He is the only truth, unchanging, always true. We have to know His Word and trust it.
What was the best part of your chronic illness?
I truly discovered that everything God has for us, it’s for good. Even if we don’t understand, it’s for good. After those lessons that God taught me, I didn’t question His love when my nephew died. It was the hardest situation in my life ever. Hardest thing. My nephew was like a son to me. And I didn’t know how to live.
But for the first time in my life, I didn’t doubt God’s love anymore. And I can say that it’s much better to live with assurance that God loves you and that He brings good things your way.
Never doubt Him, even if you don’t understand your circumstances. Sometimes you don’t even need to understand. Trust your Heavenly Father. He knows what’s best for you.
How would you encourage other women with chronic illness?
1. Humble yourself
God brings everything into our lives for our good. So whatever struggle you have, it’s for good. I would encourage you to humble yourself and ask God what it’s for. Don’t ask God why. Ask God, “What do You want to accomplish in my life?” because He’s working with our hearts.
It’s not anything hard for God to heal us from our illness. But He brings it into our life for a good purpose. So ask God, for what purpose? And what do I need to do with that?
2. Examine your heart
Examine your own heart. I discovered more and more that our heart is very deceitful, it tends to deceive us. And the Bible speaks about that, Jeremiah 17:9. I discovered that it’s so very true and we have to resist that deceit.
I recently I started fasting again. I did it in the past, and I’m back to it, because of whom God brought into our life. I found that fasting is the time that brings you very close to God. I feel like God is answering a lot more of my questions when I am humbling myself and fasting.
Fasting is a way to humble yourself and tell God, “I’m willing to set aside food, willing to set aside time for food, and spend time with You in prayer and reading.” Ask God specific questions, and He will answer. He knows why.
4. Maintain perspective
I also remember I heard more than once preaching on James 1. It talks about trials that God brings into our life. It says we have to take it with joy. I never understood joy, how to be joyful when you are in such distress.
But joy is the fruit that God is going to bring through the trial that He allowed into our lives, and that’s the joy that I experience now. It is joy. It brings lots of joy to me, and I’m thankful for that.
It was also encouraging for me to hear that every trial has an end. Maybe it’s not encouraging to hear, but in a sense, it’s encouraging that even if a certain trial doesn’t end here on earth, it will certainly end in Heaven. There are no tears, no crying, no problems in Heaven.
5. Be willing to change
I believe so often God brings these things into our lives because He wants our heart to change. Something about our heart, our life, our attitude He wants to change.
Maybe it’s me and the way I’m so stubborn and strong-willed, but I feel like most of my trials that God brought into my life were because God wanted to teach me and change me. Of course there were other issues like the death of my nephew that were so hard. I don’t say that it was for me, just to change me, and certain things you just have to trust God’s goodness and not doubt Him.
But most of it from my experience is because He wants to change our heart. Most trials I think will have an end here on earth if we’re willing to change and humble ourselves before Him.
What resources helped you?
We had Bible study group or youth meeting, and God used just studying the Word of God with church friends to grow my faith and to help me with my problems.
People here (in America) love their independence and personal space. In Ukraine, people are much closer, simpler in a way. People are more open to share. And that helped me, just to get together with my friends and pray about things.
If you have a need, get together with friends and pray about it. Get together with people who have something similar , and it will be a comfort or encouragement for you in times of trial. Don’t stay by yourself. Get someone likeminded and be together, either studying the Bible, praying, or just spending time together. Surround yourself with people. That will help you. It helped me.
I’m very thankful for my church family. They opened themselves up to me. I could go to my pastor any time I had a need and just talk to him or to his wife or just drink tea and talk about anything that would distract me from my problem.
I also took a course called Practical Knowledge of God. In that course they taught us to learn God by experience: walk closely with God, read His Word, ask Him specific questions, and write down answers that He gives.
This will encourage your faith because you’ll see God answer your prayer, and it will help you to see when God is working, what area of your life He is working in. It can give you clues to what God wants to change in you.
Are you trusting God and not your own heart/feelings/ circumstances? Do you have friends you can go to for support? What other words of advice or encouragement stood out to you?
Let us know in the comments, or leave a word or two for Oksana if her story spoke to you!