A decade of deep suffering has led me to ask a lot of hard questions.
I can recall hearing the words “chronic illness” being spoken from a stage twice in my lifetime. Once was during a worship service during my orientation to Wheaton College in 2016. The other was also at Wheaton College, this time from my own lips as I shared about my illness in chapel the following year.
Since chronic illness is so infrequently discussed publicly, it leaves many people who are chronically ill dangling alone with unaddressed theological, emotional, and intellectual questions. For me, many of these questions centered around how the existence of chronic illness could possibly fit together with the love of God.
It wasn’t until spring of my sophomore year at Wheaton when I began studying systematic theology that I entered a safe space in which I could ask and deeply work through these questions.
A Glimpse into My Story
I have been chronically ill for nearly a decade – I started to develop my symptoms when I was 10 years old. The past nine and a half years have been a long and painful journey of doctors’ appointments and symptoms that have at times pushed my endurance to its limits. I am officially diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), although since there is no test for IBS and my symptoms often vary from a typical experience of IBS, I cannot be completely sure of this diagnosis. However, having any diagnosis – even if its accuracy is tentative – is helpful in the chronic illness world because a diagnosis can give you access to the accommodations you need.
People often ask me what it is like to be chronically ill. The answer to such a question is long, because chronic illness affects virtually every aspect of my life. I once wrote a 25-page description of some of …