Tag Archive | Casting our cares

Exploring Rest: Physical Rest and Chronic Illness

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm‬ ‭127:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As I began studying REST as my Word of the Year for 2018, my main focus was on RESTING in the Lord. This is definitely important, but as I’ve prayed and listened to God’s voice I’ve recognized the need for some study on the physical aspects of rest as well. The God who formed our bodies in the wombs of our mothers is concerned about physical rest. It is a God-given gift to “refresh tired bodies” and “restore tired souls” (Jeremiah 21:25 MSG).

I’ve had a bedtime routine for several years of getting in bed around 10pm, then spending thirty to sixty minutes relaxing and reading before turning off the lights and actually going to sleep. My alarm is set to go off at 7:30am, so this schedule allows for the recommended hours of sleep. Occasionally, our special-needs son will have problems during the night, setting off the alarm on his monitor and waking me up, but overall this schedule was working.

However during the last few months, I’ve noticed most nights I either have trouble getting to sleep in a timely manner or I’m waking up much earlier than I used to, around 4am most mornings. Suddenly, I was seldom getting the amount of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation for those in my age group. Because of a combination of living with a long list of chronic illnesses and some other age-related problems, I now seldom get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. And as one of the leaders of a large group of Christian women with chronic illness, I’ve seen that I am definitely not the only one who faces this problem.

Sleeplessness and Chronic Illness

Insomnia, the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for the recommended amount of time, is a common problem for those with chronic illnesses. In some cases, a medical condition itself causes insomnia, while in other cases symptoms of the condition cause discomfort that can make it difficult for us to sleep. Also, insomnia is sometimes a side effect of some of the medications used for chronic illnesses. Common medical problems related to insomnia include gastrointestinal problems, endocrine problems, neurological conditions, allergies, asthma and chronic pain. Unfortunately, treatments may help relieve the severity of these problems but they seldom totally remove them.

While those who suffer with these and many other chronic illnesses may never be totally free from the issue of insomnia, there are some positive steps we can take to keep from living with constant exhaustion. Here are a few ideas.

  • Talk with your primary physician about the problems you are having with insomnia. While I personally do not take any type of prescription sleeping pills, that may be an option for some. Personally, when my PCP has tried this the side effects were worse than the insomnia itself. But your doctor may have some other recommendations that would be helpful in this area. For example, some medications or combinations of medications can actually cause difficulty sleeping or aggravate a problem you are already having in this area, and there may be a different medication that would help with the symptoms without keeping you awake at night.
  • Watch your diet. Caffeine and chocolate are stimulants, and used in the late afternoon or evening can make it difficult to get to sleep. Foods containing sugar can cause a spike in blood glucose levels and make you restless instead of sleepy. Spicy foods and foods high in protein and fat, especially when eaten in large amounts and late in the evening, can keep you awake when you need to go to sleep. If possible, eat early so your food will have time to begin digesting before bed time. And limit fluid intake for at least three hours before going to bed so you don’t have to get up frequently during the night to urinate and have difficulty getting back to sleep.
  • Get some sunshine daily, whenever possible. Regular exposure to sunlight helps keep vitamin D levels within the normal range and prevents daytime drowsiness and nighttime restlessness that are symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
  • Add some exercise to your daily routine.If you are too sedentary – which is another problem often associated with chronic illness – this often adds to problems with impaired sleep. Find a way to add regular aerobic exercise to your daily routine at least five days a week, working up to 150 minutes of exercise per week. If you’re not sure what exercise is appropriate with your medical condition(s), ask your physician for a recommendation or if possible for an assessment by a certified physical and/or occupational therapist to help you set up a safe exercise program. I did this after a major surgery on my cervical spine about a year and a half ago, and since I was homebound at the time I had both a PT and an OT come to our home to get me started on a safe exercise program. But don’t wait until after supper to exercise, as this can actually make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • If you feel extremely tired during the day, a short nap may improve your alertness and ability to concentrate. But nap in a comfortable environment, preferably with limited light and noise, and do so early in the afternoon and for no more than forty-five minutes. Sometimes a simple time of resting without napping will also help. But avoid longer naps or those later in the afternoon which can disrupt your nighttime sleep.
  • Limit or eliminate back light devices and bright artificial light before bedtime. Watching television late at night, working on your computer, even reading an e-book on your iPad or other tablet to relax at bedtime can all contribute to sleeplessness. Even over-exposure to artificial light can cause difficulty getting to sleep. Whenever possible, use low-wattage bulbs and turn off your television and computer or tablet at least one hour before going to bed. And if you want to read to relax at bedtime, make sure you use a regular book or an eReader that requires an additional light source.
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and that the temperature is neither too warm nor too cold. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. And don’t allow sleep problems to become a cause of anxiety. If you do all you can to get a full night’s sleep, and you still wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, realize that any rest is better than none. If you feel restless, take some time to listen to some relaxing music or meditate on some encouraging verses of Scripture, but then turn off the light, close your eyes and rest until it’s time to get up and start another day.
  • Finally, remember God is in control, ruling in love and wisdom over our world whether we are awake or asleep. When you lay down to go to bed for the night, lay down your anxious thoughts as well. As you powered down your computer at least an hour below heading to bed, it’s now time to power down your mind and turn everything over to the One who never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4). Relinquish control to Him, relax and go to sleep. Almighty God is still on His throne, and He can handle anything that might happen before it’s time for you to begin a new day. Close your eyes and go to sleep, confident He will make you dwell in safety through the night.

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Exploring Rest: How Work and Rest Fit Together

As I learn about what it truly is to rest in the Lord, my goal is to do a short weekly blog post exploring what it is to REST IN THE LORD. This week, we are looking at how work and rest are not opposites but rather two sides of the same coin.

To rest, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, can mean “freedom from activity or labor.” When we are speaking of spiritual rest or resting in the Lord, this is not what we are referring to. Another definition given by this dictionary comes much closer to the biblical meaning of rest: “peace of mind or spirit.” When I am resting in the Lord, I am at peace within, regardless of what is going on around me.

My normal morning routine includes a time of being quiet before the Lord and listening to His voice. I also spend time in God’s Word, since this is what He often uses to speak truth to my heart. And this morning, through a verse that popped up as the Verse of the Day on one of my Bible apps and another on Scripture passage on my regularly scheduled reading, I heard one message loud and clear: REST IS NOT CEASING FROM WORK. IT IS COMMITTING THE WORK I NEED TO DO TO THE LORD.

If you are like me, most days you have work that needs to be done. So this is an essential principle to understand about walking in rest. I am writing this on Tuesday, which is a day that will be filled with laundry, writing two needed posts for God Living Girls with Chronic Illness, and doing some bookkeeping for our business. Not what I would normally think of as a day of rest! Yet this is what God was speaking to my heart this morning. So how can we rest in the Lord and still accomplish the tasks that need to be done?

  • This begins by committing to the Lord whatever is on your schedule for the day. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬ ‭NIV)‬‬
  • To commit our plans to the Lord, in the original Hebrew language, means to roll the weight of them onto the Lord. What a wise way to begin the day! By rolling the burden of our responsibilities on Jesus’ shoulders, we stop trying to carry the heavy weight ourselves and acknowledge our need for His help. We still need to fulfill our responsibility, but this enables us to enter God’s rest even while we are working.
  • So what are to commit to the Lord? Whatever project or undertaking is scheduled for this day, whether it is routine or especially difficult and complex.
  • This verse promises, when we take these steps, the Lord will establish our plans. To establish something is to make it firm and stable. But the Hebrew word translated “establish” in this verse can also mean “to direct, as an arrow” on it’s way to the target. If we have committed our plans for the day to the Lord, rolling the weight of it onto the Lord, He will direct our steps throughout the day. And while inwardly at rest, we will accomplish what God desires for our day.

Wow! When I sat down to study this verse, I had no idea all of the meat in these few words. I know this is my desire for my day. How about you? And to accomplish God’s purposes and be at rest as I’m doing it! A double blessing. Lord, I commit the tasks before me today to You, and I choose to work at them as You instruct me to in Colossians 3:23-24, with all my heart, working for You and not just to please those I am serving. Because in reality, it is the Lord Jesus Christ I am serving.

Coping with Chronic Illness

In Coping with Chronic Illness, by H. Norman Wright and Lynn Ellis, chronic illness is compared to having a career. “You can do poorly or well at it. Doing well doesn’t mean being cured; instead, it refers to your ability to cope and make needed adjustments.”

Until about ten months ago, I considered myself somewhat of an expert at coping with chronic illness. I had accepted my limitations, found ways to fulfill most of my goals, and was basically content with my life. And I’d walked this way for nearly forty years.

Then suddenly, things changed. My pain management doctor did an epidural steroid injection in my cervical spine, which was supposed to reduce my neck and shoulder pain.  But instead of the pain improving, it became worse. And for some reason that none of my doctors have identified, my overall condition was also much worse. I was left dealing with constant pain and a whole new set of limitations.

This is my personal story, but I suspect many of you have similar stories.  Chronic illnesses are seldom static. Once we learn to live with one level of debilitation, things often change and there are new problems to deal with. Knowing how to cope with today’s problems is essential.


What exactly is chronic illness?

According to the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, a chronic disease is one the lasts for 3 months or more, that generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication. Having a chronic illness often means living with “invisible” symptoms that no one but you sees, feels, or is aware of.

How can I cope with my chronic illness or illnesses?

It is possible to be realistic about the losses in our lives, and still live in joy, peace, hope, and awareness of the many ways the Lord is blessing us. We are His creation, made with a purpose we are called and empowered to fulfill. I believe this understanding is the key to coping with whatever chronic illness or illnesses God has allowed in your life.

Specific ideas for coping with chronic illness:

  1. Don’t try to bear the weight of chronic illness on your own. Find someone you can confide in. Participating in a support group such as God-Living Girls is a great way to do this.
  2. Seek medical help, and be willing to listen to your doctors. If you question a diagnosis, get a second opinion. Learn enough about your diagnoses to ask questions.
  3. Spend time daily talking with God in prayer and reading and meditating on His Word.
  4. Work to develop a positive attitude and a grateful heart, in spite of how you’re feeling.  Open your eyes to all the blessings in your life, and thank God daily for them.
  5. Hold onto the truth that God has not abandoned you. He is at your side, ready to strengthen you to successfully face anything that happens today.  Allow His perfect love to drive out your fear.
  6. Set realistic goals, taking your current physical and mental limitations in mind. Don’t expect to do everything you did prior to becoming ill. Don’t expect perfection. Be alert to times when you need to rest.
  7. Be willing to ask for help, when it’s truly needed.
  8. Look for new creative outlets that give you pleasure, such as writing, art, crafts, and music.
  9. Develop an eternal perspective. Remember, your years on the current earth are few when compared with eternity, so focus on living to please God.
  10. Finally, remember that YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR DISEASE OR DIAGNOSIS. You are God’s beloved daughter, created to fulfill His purpose for your life.


Chronic illness has changed our lives. We cannot do many of the things we used to be able to do. But this doesn’t have to keep us from walking in joy, being at rest in our current circumstances, or reaching out in love to others who are in need. We each are still a whole person, a person of value, unique and greatly loved by God. Our daily symptoms and physical limitations do not change this.  The above items aren’t rules to follow, in order to gain God’s approval. You already have that. And these aren’t the only things that will help you cope with chronic illness.  Perhaps you have your own word of advice on how to cope with chronic illness that has really helped you. If so, we’d love for you to share it with us in the comments.

Casting Our Cares

Recently, I’ve felt weighed down with burdens much of the time. The burden of poor health. The burden of continual pain. The burden of being home bound. And yet, I know where to turn when this happens.

JESUS is my burden bearer. He is my comfort in every trial. And this is what He wants to be for you too. His invitation is clear: Cast all your care on Me, because I care about you.

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Two different Greek words are used for care in 1 Peter 5:7.

  • The first, the care we are to cast on the Lord, refers to the anxieties and distractions of life that tend to drain our strength and steal our peace of mind. It is the care that Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes as “a disquieted state of mixed uncertainty, apprehension, and responsibility.”
  • The second word for care signifies that something (or someone) is the object of care. Merriam-Webster defines this type of care as “painstaking or watchful attention.” We as God’s beloved children are the objects of His watchful attention and care.

I know where to turn when the burdens become too heavy for me to bear. The Lord Jesus Christ is waiting with open arms, saying, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ ‭HCSB).‬‬ So why do we sometimes fail to heed His call? I believe 1 Peter 5:6 gives us the answer. We often are unwilling to humble ourselves. The type of humbling that this verse speaks of means laying down our own agenda, submitting to God’s will and His timing. It also means acknowledging we lack the strength in ourselves to overcome the storms of life. We need God-given strength to be victorious.

The desire of my heart is to learn to come to the Lord without delay whenever troubles start. But to be honest, I’m not always there – and I suspect there are times when you aren’t there either.

Lord, make us willing to submit to Your plans and timing for our lives, even when we don’t understand what You’re doing. Remind us that the safest place we can be is sheltered in Your hands. There we are protected by Your l0ve, faithfulness, and peace. Help us to cast our care on You, in the confidence that You care about us.

 

As I was doing research for this article, I came across a song I’d never heard before. The lyrics fit this post so well, I decided to use them to close.

“Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour

When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steal my breath away

When my back’s pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

This war’s not what I would’ve chosen
But You see the future no one knows yet

And there’s still good when I can’t
See the working of Your hands
You’re holding it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

Im finding there’s freedom
When I lay it all on Your shoulders

Cast my cares
I will
Cast my cares
I will
Cast my cares on You