There’s been a lot going on in my life the past few months, both with my health and with other things. (You may or may not have noticed that we’ve missed a few posts–sorry about that.) I’ve experienced some very real pain and some very special blessings in what is still a time of growth, change, and learning–hard but also beautiful as I learn about myself, about life, and, ultimately, about God.
Together these trials have invited me into a deeper, more personal appreciation of seven key aspects of God’s character. With my finite mind, I will never fully comprehend these aspects–to be honest, I’m still learning to apply them to my current circumstances–but they have become sweet comforts to me already as I walk out of one fire, into another, and through the ongoing fire of chronic illness.
I want to share these characteristics with you in the hopes that they can be a comfort to you in your own fire, whether the flames of chronic illness or the flames of another trial.
1. God is My Sufficiency
Sufficiency: “sufficient means to meet one’s needs : COMPETENCY; the state or quality of being sufficient : ADEQUACY”Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
Sufficient: “enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end”
“Am I enough?”
God has asked me this question more than once over the past weeks.
“Am I enough whether or not you have good health? Whether or not you have a relationship? Whether or not you’re working your maximum hours? Whether or not . . .” and the list goes on.
He has had to bring me back to Himself in the truest, most basic form of recognizing that my God is sufficient for all my needs. Every single one of them. (And that if He chooses not to satisfy what may be a legitimate need for a season, this denial is not a reflection of His character but rather an invitation for me to experience His grace, which is always sufficient, in a deeper way.)
Can God use things and people to help meet our needs? Of course. He can and He does. But ultimately, I have been challenged to examine where I’m looking for my sufficiency. To myself and my limited capabilities? To other, fallible people? To material, temporary things? Or to the One who sees all, knows all, and has all?
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. . . . And who is sufficient for these things?II Corinthians 2:14, 16
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.II Corinthians 3:5
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”II Corinthians 12:9
This is the biblical definition of “sufficient,” arkeō in the original Greek, from II Corinthians 12:9:
- to be possessed of unfailing strength
- to be strong, to suffice, to be enough
- to defend, ward off
- to be satisfied, to be contented
This same word appears as “content” in I Timothy 6:8 (“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content”) and Hebrews 13:5 (“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”).
This last verse demonstrates the reason for God’s sufficiency for us no matter what we do or don’t have on this earth: His presence with us. And that’s where God’s question “Am I enough?” becomes not an analysis of His character but an analysis of my choice–not just “Is God sufficient?” (because of course He is) but “Is God sufficient for me?” (am I allowing Him to be?)
And that choice is up to you. To me. To all of us. To believe that His grace, His presence, His character are enough no matter the “whether or not”s of life. To be content in Him and only Him, not in our earthly circumstances.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13
Complete in Thee! no work of mine May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine; Thy blood hath pardon bought for me, And I am now complete in Thee. . . . Complete in Thee--each want supplied, And no good thing to me denied; Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be, I ask no more, complete in Thee. ~Aaron R. Wolfe
2. God is My Solace
Solace: “alleviation of grief or anxiety; a source of relief or consolation”Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
As a human and especially as a woman, it’s easy for me to run to other people and other things for comfort before I run to God: friends, books, movies, hobbies, or even a nap. Not that these things are bad (they’re not), but they can often pull us away from the loving arms God wants to wrap around us, from the gentle words He wants to whisper in our ears, from the tender ways He wants to be the one to comfort us.
The other night my attempts to settle my mind and heart for sleep turned into another meltdown. I felt hurt, I felt lonely, I felt lost, I felt afraid and confused and broken as I knelt in the empty, dark bedroom. I had nowhere else to go.
So I went to God. I turned through passage after passage of Scripture, soaking the pages with my tears as the words soaked into my heart.
Beautiful words. Strong words. True words. Words that worked peace, comfort, perspective, grace, and joy in my soul.
While every night isn’t a meltdown (thankfully!), I truly can’t count the times over the years that I have come to passages of God’s Word or His presence in prayer with a need that He then met, even if I didn’t recognize the need until He met it.
And sometimes God answers before I even ask, giving me a thought or a verse or a song that serves as a balm to my aching, anxious, needy heart.
God’s truth has alleviated my grief and my anxiety. Through His Word and His Spirit He has been a source of relief and consolation. I’m learning to come to my Abba and come to Him first, because He is the truest solace.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,Psalm 9:9
A refuge in times of trouble.
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,Psalm 94:14
Your comforts delight my soul.
Healer of my heart, Lover of my soul, Maker of the stars, the earth, the sky, Come and make me whole; Savior of this world, My voice praises You alone, Healer of my heart, Lover of my soul. ~sung by Mac Lynch
3. God is My Security
Security: “the quality or state of being secure: as freedom from danger : SAFETY; freedom from fear or anxiety; freedom from want or deprivation”Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
We all long for security, as humans and especially as women. We want to be provided for, whether through our own means or another’s. We want to experience our needs met, our hearts filled, our lives free from stress and worry. (Did you notice the word “freedom” in the definition above? Doesn’t it perfectly describe the state of security?)
I’ve noticed this longing in fresh ways recently, a longing for security that boils down into a desire to not have to worry about anything.
The beautiful truth is, I don’t! I don’t have to worry about anything! God has me in His hands, my life in His hands, this world in His hands, everything in His strong, wise, loving, capable, good hands. As a result, in the words of the hymnwriter, “I’ve no cause for worry or for fear” (“Day by Day” by Linda Skandell and A. L. Skoog).
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”Matthew 6:31-33
Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.I Peter 5:7
God has recently helped me reach this freedom when I get trapped in anxiety about the future. He’s taught me to change my words from the frantic, worried, self-focused question “What am I going to do?” to the faithful, resting, God-focused question of “What are You going to do?”
This simple word swap has shifted me from fear to faith, from anxiety to expectation, from bondage to freedom in profound ways. Rather than stewing about how I can control my circumstances, I’m waiting with open hands to receive what God is going to do.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;Psalm 18:2
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;Psalm 20:7-8
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Have you chosen to believe God is sufficient? Are you running to your Heavenly Father for solace? Can you let Him bring you to a place of freedom from anxiety, fear, and stress?
2 replies on “7 Characteristics of God in Chronic Illness, Part 1”
This is so good so helpful to me. Oh boy I can relate to this so much.
Thankyou for sharing this with us.
God bless you .,
Praise the Lord! So glad it could be an encouragement to you. 🙂