A Christian’s View of Guilt in Chronic Illness
As the subtitle of my blog states, A Chronically Ill Christian, Challenged to be Content, it is a challenge to be content. Chronic Illness is a term that means longterm illness. I have illnesses with no cures. Being often non-functional, I admit that I suffer also with chronic guilt. But, guilt is a fraud and, as a Christian, I need to back up and change my view to that which is Biblical.
I’ve had to acknowledge that I feel guilty a huge part of everyday. I could blame my upbringing or Christian culture or anything else, but that isn’t quite good enough. My inner voice tells me that I’m guilty of not trying hard enough to get up and be productive. It tells me that I must be lazy or not care enough to sit in my recliner, instead of showering, dressing, and cleaning my house.
My inner voice accuses me of all the things that I should be doing instead of what I’m really doing….nothing. And, it’s not the only voice that I hear that blames me for my illnesses. I see the looks, rolled eyes, and questioning faces that doubt the severity of my sickness or blame me for not getting better. “She should just get up and exercise, lose weight, and do something” is what I hear by their judgemental tone.
Many times, as I’ve tried to explain the diseases that cause all my pain, the listener will just stare off into space or change the subject. Does this mean that they don’t believe me or do they think that I’m exaggerating? Maybe they do. Why do I let it bother me so? Because, it hurts. Often, those close to us, or those of faith can be cold to physical hurting.
What should a chronically-ill Christian feel guilt for? Should I feel guilty for hurting in my joints, fatigue that’s indescribable, nausea that hits me dozens of times each day? Should I feel guilty that my vision is blurry and my eyes hurt each night, so that I don’t feel like reading or paying bills? Should I feel guilty that when I experience a flare of worsening pain, I just can’t keep the laundry washed?
No. I should not feel guilty. As a Christian, I should feel guilty when I sin. Sin is easy to define. It’s breaking God’s laws. Sin is disobeying God and the Word of God.
When I feel guilty for something that is not a sin, I must be listening to the voice of the wicked one. Even Satan can quote Scripture. He certainly tries to make me feel guilty for that which I cannot help. Being sick is not a sin. God loves me whether I’m sick or well. I know that He loves each soul and gives me life and a purpose.
In our culture, where Social Darwinism is so rampant, Christians should be careful to avoid a harsh outlook when they consider those who are disabled. Jesus was filled with compassion on those with disabilities. He showed them love and treated them in a way that showed that he saw value in them.
Because a person doesn’t appear to be outwardly productive, it shouldn’t take away the value they have as a person. Every person who has life is a person with value. We should see other’s through the eyes of Christ.
If I can remember how Christ sees me, I will be reminded that I don’t need to feel guilty. Even if I do nothing each day until I die, I’m still of worth to God. If you’re a Christian living with chronic illness, I hope that you can dwell on that truth and refuse the lie that you should feel guilty for doing less than those who have good health.
Matthew 25:34-40 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”