The chronically ill will always be with you

News about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray. (Luke 5:15-16)

LUCY WRITES: I often think about how, as often as Jesus healed the sick, he also didn’t. It seems that a bit of His message was that the sick, like the poor, would always be with us. In not curing everyone, Jesus was teaching the rest of us that we have to learn how to co-exist with the sickness and disability of others. That we all make up part of the Body of Christ together, not despite or ignoring people’s sickness or disability, but including it.

Reading more and more lately about Long Covid has reminded me of the strength of the people in my life who live with chronic illness or disability – who are often misperceived as having some form of weakness or incapability. When people with long term illness, injury, or disability talk about their experiences, please believe them. I promise promise promise promise you that they are downplaying, not exaggerating, what they are going through. Why would they do this? Because:

– the impossibility of finding words for what you are going through, the many layers of symptoms that are just too hard to catalogue,
– the grind of having to recount these to countless health staff, family and friends, countless times,
– the glaze of people’s eyes when you bore into these boring (in the true sense, that they bore into you) details to explain where you’re at.

It takes too much energy that you simply don’t have to over-exaggerate, increasing the already pretty high risk that you won’t be entirely believed. So you skim over, give the shorthand.

And yet even so it comes across like you are overstating it. Because you are not doing what other people do (so you therefore must be looking for the cover of your condition to excuse this), or because you ARE able to carry on like others can (so therefore how could you do that with this slew of symptoms?).

It’s a cruel carousel, that really you have to accept you’re stuck on. And oh the relief of being allowed off when someone just believes you and holds space, spacious and gracious space, for where you are at. Not just for a moment in time, like an acute injury, but chronically, on and on, like your illness or disability is.

So again. Believe those with chronic conditions and disability. And see them as people of extreme strength, not weakness.


Emailed to Sanctuary 22 June 2022 © Sanctuary, 2022. Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Unsplash.

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