There’s a reason that major illnesses are known as ‘life-changing’. Every aspect of life is affected; finance, family, relationships, career, hobbies, church life, ministry and even spiritual well-being. Loss, pain and low confidence naturally follow along from these changes.
These issues are not addressed in the average Sunday service, even supposing the person is well enough to attend. As ordinary life falls away and new pressures crowd in, even the most enthusiastic Christian can find their faith wilting. I know, because it happened to me. When a mystery illness knocked me flat I was a young mum, juggling two small children with my work as a doctor.
Over many years of illness and disability, I struggled every day with painful symptoms on the outside and harsh pressures on the inside. My friends and family tried their best but it seemed that nobody really understood how to help me.
I longed to find resources that would teach me about symptom management, personal loss, figuring out newly-strained relationships and how to keep my faith alive. How was I to live out my dreams and gifts now that everything was different? What about healing, anyway? Did God still love me as I waited for His touch? What was going on there? I felt like I was carrying a great big question mark, just like the Alpha cartoon.
After twenty years of this, I gave up waiting and started to write a book about these issues. I gathered wisdom and war stories from a range of sick believers. I dipped into my own story to reveal the sneaky pitfalls of illness and how I dug my way out again. I posed thoughtful questions to ponder along the way. And I looked for quotes, jokes and cartoons to lighten up the endless treadmill of ill health.
As I searched the Bible for hope and comfort, I found new strength in the story of Joseph. His efforts to overcome loss, disappointment, suffering, rejection and imprisonment strike a powerful chord with me. I’m encouraged to find that nothing could prevent Joseph from reaching his God-given destiny, because he chose to walk with God. I chose Joseph to be my Bible hero for the sick. With him alongside, a disaster begins to look more like an adventure. Now there’s an interesting thought.
My vision for the book is to offer sick people simple, healthy ways to fight back against their situation, to survive and thrive despite the pressures of illness. It’s useful as a gift for any sick person and perhaps also to inform those who look on with concern but don’t know what to say.
As a Scottish author, I am particularly pleased to partner with a new Scottish Christian publishing house called Muddy Pearl. Their office is on the premises of my church, Central. The couple who run Muddy Pearl also attend Central, which is of course good old Morningside Baptist Church with a new name. A new Scottish publisher with a vision for equipping the Body of Christ through excellent books strikes me as cause for celebration.
‘The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy’ by Emily Ackerman, with foreword by Pablo Martinez, is published by Muddy Pearl, ISBN 978-1-910012-12-3, price £9.99. Buy it post free from www.muddypearl.com or from your local bookshop.