Finding My Strength in God: Navigating Life With Chronic Illness

April 22, 2024

{Pictured is Hannah, front far left, with her family}

Ever since I was young, I strived to be independent and self-sufficient. Asking for help never came easily for me, and I saw it as revealing the secret that I was weak and dependent. From a young age, I knew that God was after my need for control and independence, but I could never have imagined how he would orchestrate that pruning in my life. 

It began with an earth-shattering year of trials spanning from serious issues in school to flying across the country as a 14-year-old girl who needed life-saving brain surgery. Among these trials, I was diagnosed with two chronic illnesses. Throughout that year, all I could seem to do was to keep my head above water long enough to take a breath. I was living in my own strength. Looking back, it was a missed opportunity to lean on God. 

​As I tried to grasp my new life, I didn’t lean on God but decided that he wasn’t trustworthy and I could handle life on my own. God finally grabbed my attention in 2021. Independent and self-sufficient Hannah was at it again: working a full-time job and being a full-time student while ignoring her chronic illness. If you don’t pay attention to them, they aren’t there, right? Wrong. 

In July of 2021, I began to experience full-body seizures, leaving me extremely sedentary and in bed for most of my days. I was diagnosed with Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures, meaning that they were not caused by brain activity but by the way that my body was processing stress. This diagnosis was a result of the trials that I experienced in 2018.

​Only a good and gracious God would take such a terrible time in my life and use it for my holistic good. After many months of despair and depression, I decided one Saturday to watch the livestreams of the church services I had missed. As I was watching them, I could feel God saying “Now do you see? I have brought you here to show you that you cannot live in your own power. You are strong, but you are strong only in Me.” 

I began to spend time with God, read the Bible daily, and read books that taught me about God’s attributes. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. At the same time, I also began to process my past with my dad using a guided book created for my specific diagnosis. Little by little, I began to get better. First, it was four days seizure-free, then two weeks, and now, by the grace of God, I have been seizure-free for over a year and a half. 

​While I still struggle with self-sufficiency, I now know I will never succeed in my own strength. This realization has brought supernatural peace as I know that my God is with me and is carrying everything that I am too weak to carry. I never would have planned my life the way God did, but through every single tear and trial, God has brought me closer to him. He allowed me to suffer and to become dependent so that I could see myself for who I truly am: a child of God who is dependent and weak, but at the same time, in God, stronger than ever.

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