As a Christian, I often turn to God’s word—the Bible—for encouragement, hope and even direction in life. Living life with an autoimmune disease raises lots of questions and fears, and I have no doubt that many often wonder (as I have done) where God’s hand is in all of this. People that don’t know the God of the Bible may see chronic illness as another reason to question his goodness or even his existence. Christians may struggle with keeping their focus on Christ and remembering where our hope is found. Because of this, I decided to put together a blog series reflecting on Scripture that I feel relates to living with rheumatoid autoimmune disease (aka rheumatoid arthritis / RA / RAD) in some way—e.g., as encouragement and hope, as prayer and honesty before God, or as learning to understand God and trust him through all situations in life. Wherever you're at in your spiritual journey, I hope you find this helpful.There are times when facing a chronic illness that you are just left feeling down and defeated. Whether it’s the physical or the emotional toll, it can take a lot out of you. In the moments like these, I like to turn to simple prayers and just cry out to God for mercy and new hope. One of the best places in the Bible to find examples of prayers is the book of Psalms. This book is really a collection of songs, which reveal a wide range of emotions and a lot of simple honesty before God.
Many of the psalms were written by David, who was chosen by God to be the next king of Israel and was anointed as such by God’s prophet, Samuel. There was just one problem: the previous king was still alive and reigning—king Saul. Although David never attempted nor had the intention of taking away Saul’s throne while he was still alive, Saul was jealous and feared David, and tried to kill him. David spent ten years running from Saul, hiding in caves and fearing for his life. From these experiences, some of the most beautiful psalms were written, and we get a glimpse into David’s heart before God.
“Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.” --Psalm 6:2
“My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?
Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave?
I am worn out from groaning;
all night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
the LORD accepts my prayer…”
Sometimes, though, I feel like I just don’t have the words to say. In times like these, I like to just turn to a psalm and read that as my own prayer before God. Besides the one above, here are a few more examples of other simple prayers from the psalms that just call out to God for mercy:
“I am in pain and distress;
may your salvation, O God, protect me.”
-- Psalm 69:29
“Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant,
for to you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.”
“I cry aloud to the LORD;
I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
I pour out my complaint before him;
before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who know my way.”
“O LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.“
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.