Facing Chronic Illness in a Christian Way

by frankbeswick

Chronic illness is a spiritual challenge for believers, a challenge that I now must face.

After a long delay waiting to see a doctor [specialist] in our wonderful, but heavily overburdened, but much loved National Health Service I managed to get a telephone appointment with a specialist who confirmed my fears. I am suffering a chronic condition which requires treatment. Chronic conditions last through a long period of time. Last night I prayed to God to help me face it in a Christian manner. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

Photo courtesy of art-tower, of Pixabay

The Situation

Regular readers of my articles will be aware that for the last two years I have been suffering a long-term medical condition. My articles on walking have finished, as I now cannot walk long distances, and I have been using a walking stick for some time. I have given up my beloved allotment, as I was too unwell to manage it any longer. I concur with the Buddhist teaching in this case that there is no value in clinging to a possession. I am continuing to garden in the local park, where I do Wednesday mornings.

Part of a Christian response to illness is not to let it prevent you from serving others, though your service must adapt. My gardening is a form of service. True, at the local park, Victoria Park, in Stretford, I am not the leader, and I am not expected to do much kneeling down, but  my many years of gardening experience and advanced gardening qualifications are valued by the leaders, two kindly ladies,who treat me as a respected source of advice. Yet it is important to emphasise that one who wants to serve must accept the service given him by others and not let destructive pride obstruct. The leaders always bring me a chair so that I can where possible sit to do a job or take rests. I accept with gratitude.

Writing is a form of service that defines me. It will continue and hopefully when the treatment begins there will be less interruption than there has been,  for there have been times when I have felt too tired to write.  Fortunately, while the illness is rooted in my brain, it is motor skills, particularly balance and walking, that are affected and my mental capacities are, thanks be to God, undiminished. But my condition slows me down, so expect a longer time between articles.

I can, however, pray. As  a Christian's body fails their mind is still capable of prayer. I can still pray for others. Adding to my daily prayers makes good sense. I like to rest in the afternoon, reading and watching television, so some prayer time might be fitted into my timetable here. You should always find time for God. Praying for others is a way of serving. I can do that.

Now that my condition has been  diagnosed treatment can begin. It is generally successful, though I will be on medication for life. 

Bearing the Cross

Christians were told by Jesus that anyone who wanted to follow him must take up his cross and follow him. This does not mean looking for suffering, such as martyrdom, a practice that is strictly forbidden, but it means facing up to life's duties and troubles without compromising your Christian moral  standards. Ill-health is a cross that we all must bear and do so  according to moral standards.

Bearing the cross involves not slipping into selfishness. It is easy to slip into the mind set of thinking that your illness gives you some kind of priority on attention and precedence over others. It is important that you recognize that others have needs as well as you do and that while your needs are strong not every need or perceived need or desire of yours is priority. Bearing the cross means disciplining yourself to avoid self-pity, which is a spiritually deadening form of egocentricity. I discipline myself to look at others who are worse off than I am, and there are plenty of them.

I am trying to be a good Christian, and this is a    demanding task. I think it important to count your blessings. I have a loving wife and family, good friends, a supportive community, a peaceful country to live in, a comfortable home, food and warmth, interesting things to do and enough money for my needs. Moreover, While the average age for developing the disease is 56, I showed the first symptoms in my late sixties, so the disease  has not as much time to mature with me as it does with many others. When I asked the consultant how long before I reach stage 5, his reply was, "You are not going to live to 120, but you are good for another 10 to 15 years." Considering that I am 71 that will be sufficient.

Trying to blame others for your woes is a form of displacement. True, a young doctor misdiagnosed my problems as orthopaedic some years ago, but she put me through the Parkinson's checks, and I passed them. So she misinterpreted the main symptom, my gait, as an orthopaedic difficulty. I am uninterested in blaming her, the mistake was reasonable and failure to  recognize early Parkinson's is a major source of misdiagnosis.

Responding in a spiritual way involves not giving in to the side-effects of the medication, which can make you more impulsive. The consultant warned of people who gamble small amounts suddenly gambling large sums. However, as I do not gamble at all this will not be a problem. But the warning is useful, for I will add prayers for self-control to my daily regime.


;Just as I was finishing the previous block of text Maureen arrived back home with my medication and a portable blood pressure machine, the latter being needed because the Parkinson's medication might have implications for my blood pressure. She has been superb during this bleak period, and I could not have coped without her.  I have taken the first tablet and will spend the rest of the afternoon resting. I have some distance to go and so I am taking things carefully/ I am feeling a bit better, but I suspect that there is a psychological component to this sensation. There are hard times yet to come, no doubt, but I think that I have passed the nadir. 

I conclude with the observation that so many people over the last two years have been kind and sympathetic, men and women. Humans were created by God for goodness, and goodness can only be manifest if others have need and vulnerability.

Three Wizzley writers have given me support: Veronica, my younger sister; Black Spaniel Gallery, who is a friend whose supportive messages were welcome and wise; and Derdriu Marriner, whose messages have ever been a boost to me. 

I will keep you informed.


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Updated: 09/14/2021, frankbeswick
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frankbeswick on 06/18/2023

Interesting, but I suspect that the social aspect of the therapy is an element in the therapy.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/17/2023

Retirement definitely can remove a lot of stressors, so it's good that low stress characterizes your retirement.

Even little stresses can interfere with well-being, though. If a stress arises, a quick remedy could be my sister's alternative to the foot remedy. She places an index finger in the middle of the other hand's palm and her thumb in the equivalent spot on the top of that hand and applies light pressure. She has found that self-application of the foot remedy takes longer than when she applies the remedy to others, so she uses the hand version on herself. It's more discreet than the foot, and she often does it even when not stressed because it is so comfortable, natural and relaxing.

frankbeswick on 06/17/2023

Thanks, Derdriu. Being retired enables me to relax far more than I used to. I do believe that stress has contributed to my condition, but as l now have a very low stress lifestyle life is easier.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/16/2023

A technique from energy medicine practitioner Donna Eden has helped me to relax and to feel better almost immediately when I experience symptoms of some health issues. I presently do not have access to her book Energy medicine: Balancing Your Body's Energies for Optimal Health, Joy, and Vitality, so I hope that I can describe the point understandably. It's located on the ball of the feet, in the depression between the bones of the big toe and second toe.

I was saved from fainting one day by my sister applying pressure at that point. She places her thumb on that point on top of the left foot and usually her index finger on that point on the bottom of the left foot and applies gentle pressure. It was amazing how quickly I became alert and relaxed.

If my right foot is easier to access, she applies the technique on that foot. It doesn't really seem to matter which foot; they both work. And lately she has applied the technique on both feet simultaneously, and the resulting relaxation and well-being are wonderful. She says that, via her studies of ancient yoga and Indian ayurvedic medicine, relaxation is one of the essential keys to well-being.

As WriterArtist wrote: "Stay calm and be strong." With respect to health, calm and strength may be deemed synonymous, for they work wonders.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/16/2023

I'm sending prayers for your father's well-being and for appreciation of your care of him.

You noted: "When you are praying, pray for others, pray for the entire living beings in universe." Your words remind me of the Buddhist prayer for the well-being of everyone. I remember reading a book by Buddhist meditator Sharon Salzburg in which she said that one of the participants in one of her meditation sessions told her that what got her through a really difficult period was the knowledge that at any given time of the day or night of every day, somewhere in the world, Buddhists were praying for everyone's well-being, so that included her.

frankbeswick on 06/16/2023


Veronica on 06/15/2023

Prayers assured Writer Artist...

frankbeswick on 06/15/2023

I will pray for your father.

frankbeswick on 06/15/2023

Thanks I follow this guidance already.

WriterArtist on 06/14/2023

Dear frankbeswick - I am battling with my father's illness who was diagnosed with cancer. Very busy for the last 7,8 months and trying to help him in ways that are less stressful to him.

You are doing the right thing by being a good Christian, praying and serving. There is no reason for you to worry. You can continue whatever makes you feel positive.

Meditation goes a long way in helping reduce stress and pain. If you can't meditate, it is alright. If you know any breathing exercise that will do. Keep calm and be strong.

You have mentioned that you pray. When you are praying, pray for others, pray for the entire living beings in universe. The universe will help you. You will find that help will come from unexpected sources.

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