My Joy Rose as Sorrows Fell

Desiring God | 10/18/2019 | Vaneetha Rendall Risner
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I used to have a great life. I went on exciting vacations, cooked gourmet meals for my family, and painted everything from dishes to canvas. Sure, I had limitations from my childhood polio, but I was able to do whatever I wanted. Slowly, however, all that changed. Today I use a wheelchair to go where I once walked. I admire art I once created. I need assistance when I once only offered it. My world has grown smaller.

Decades ago, the words from 2 Corinthians 6:10, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,” seemed admirable in theory but impossible in practice. I couldn’t imagine joy and sorrow even coexisting; by definition, having one meant the absence of the other. The only way I could have imagined rejoicing when I was sorrowful was if my temporary sorrow were to be displaced by swift, miraculous deliverance. Then I could rejoice, while everyone marveled at my faith and God’s goodness.

Syndrome - Years - Doctors - Cure - Condition

So, when I was unexpectedly diagnosed with post-polio syndrome sixteen years ago, I couldn’t see how I could find joy apart from healing. The doctors said there was no cure for my condition, and I would live with continual loss. To slow down the progression, they advised me to reduce life to a bare minimum and stop overusing my arms. As a wife and mother of young children, I was forced to make difficult choices daily, and new losses cropped up every month. It felt relentless. Honestly, it still does.

Today I can’t even make my own coffee, much less carry it to the table. I deal with ongoing pain that will only intensify. While this may sound depressing, it has surprisingly made me more joyful. I’ve learned to stop fixating on my circumstances and start rejoicing in the God who has drawn closer to me through them.

As my...
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