This post is written from the perspective of my Christian faith but I think it will resonate with any of my readers who desire to love and do good in the world whether they are Christian or not.
As you all know, these last two months have been a bit more difficult for me health-wise. One night, when I was feeling particularly sad and discouraged I confided in Brett, “I’m scared that God isn’t going to say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ when I get to heaven. I feel like I’m not doing anything. I’m too sick to serve God and people. I’m not contributing anything to the kingdom.”
This wasn’t the first time I’ve battled such discouragement. It was even worse when I was wasting away in bed for months that turned into years. I was so sick that I couldn’t handle most contact with other human beings. At times all I could think about was how to get relief from the pain. I certainly wasn’t serving anyone. Worse than that, my sickness was a huge drain on my husband and family. I felt like I was a burden and my life was pointless.
I think most chronic illness sufferers can relate. And I think even healthy people can feel limited and useless for other reasons. So, I wanted to share with you a story from the Bible that has reassured me during those painful moments of discouragement.
And he [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” — Mark 12:41-44
Take heart friends, you may have less energy and health to work with but you can still give what little you can. And in the eyes of Jesus, your feeble expression of gratitude to your caregivers can be more significant than someone else’s founding a non-profit. Just give what you have to give.
The sick mom heating up canned soup for her family in the microwave may be giving more than the mom who is cooking an all organic meal from scratch.
The sick wife who takes three hours to write a simple birthday card in between waves of pain may be giving more than the healthy wife who organizes a big birthday party.
The sick friend who replies to a text message when her head is pounding and she’s trying not to vomit may be giving more than the healthy one who invites a friend over for dinner.
The sick believer who fights to concentrate enough to say a two sentence prayer for a person in need may be giving more than the healthy ones who are leading bible studies and starting ministries.
The people we love may not always realize this, but we can rest assured that Christ is watching and he knows. He knows our hearts. He knows that what a suffering person has to give looks different than what a healthy person has to give.
And he’s a God who counts two copper coins a priceless gift.
By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.
This makes me want to cry so much 😓 I can relate 100%. And I’ve also been feeling like God won’t say “well done, good and faithful servant” to me. Thank you for sharing your struggles with this so openly. And thank you for the reminder of the widow’s two coppers.January 10, 2018 at 10:09 pm
And, just so you know, I am very grateful for you and your friendship. Just knowing are out there and you care is a huge blessing.
Love you dearly ❤❤
Aww… I’m so glad it encouraged you Laura! Thank you so much for your kind words. I don’t feel like I’m a very good friend but I’m glad I can still be of encouragement. Love you! 💕January 11, 2018 at 11:55 am
This is so true, Ana! Thanks for sharing.January 11, 2018 at 1:46 pm
Thanks Bethany! 💕January 11, 2018 at 5:45 pm
Ana, this is so encouraging to me! Following your journey and praying for you and Brett has helped me as I fight chronic illness in my own life. Thank you for writing. This was beautiful 🙂January 11, 2018 at 5:20 pm
I’m so glad to hear that Alathia! It’s such a blessing to know that just my own story can be of help to others. God bless you sister!January 11, 2018 at 5:37 pm
This is beautiful, Ana! Such an encouraging word. I felt the Lord impress this same lesson on my heart years ago, but hadn’t thought of it for years. Thanks for the reminder.January 11, 2018 at 7:02 pm
Aww… Thanks Kimi! 💕January 12, 2018 at 2:47 pm
I needed this today, Ana. My family is recovering from the flu bug we have had since Christmas, and the house looks like a bomb went off. Picking up the huge mess (bags of tissues, scary bathrooms, laundry, dishes, etc), and trying to get life back to “normal” while still really exhausted has been trying. Your words remind me to be thankful for any day I can do even a small thing, and to thank the Lord for helping me. We all still have various health issues, so “normal” is still a pretty broken state, but at least we aren’t all in “critical”, where we walk around like zombies and no one knows who will be well enough to care for the others. We have definitely come through this as a family, and I’m really thankful for that. I often feel I’m not giving, or able to give, enough to my family. These last few weeks I think we’ve all been able to relate to each other better, and can understand how to help each other in new ways. Blessings in the midst of burdens–so, that’s a thing. 🙂 Your words really encouraged me, thank you, Ana!January 11, 2018 at 7:42 pm
I’m so sorry you had such a chaotic week Ruth! Sounds pretty miserable! I’m glad my post was able to encourage you. Keep fighting the good fight. 💕January 12, 2018 at 2:48 pm
It seems to me that you are serving God by sharing your story and keeping it real. Your message truly encourages others that have no strength. I can assure you that God is saying “WELL DONE!” to you.January 11, 2018 at 8:29 pm
Thank you for sharing Ana
Aww… Thanks for the encouraging words Julieta!January 12, 2018 at 2:48 pm
Thank you Anna! Very inspirational and I can see how this might apply to different areas in my life. God ‘s blessing on you! Keep writing these great viewpoints !! I am enjoying them!!January 12, 2018 at 3:49 am
Aww! Thank you so much for commenting Mrs. McCutcheon. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.January 12, 2018 at 2:49 pm
I found out this week that a friend of mine is going overseas for two months this summer to do missions work–but I’ll be here, visiting specialists and working from home like always because that’s all I can handle, and some days barely that. It was discouraging. Thank you for this. Your blog, testimony, and ministry has been so encouraging to me!January 12, 2018 at 6:57 am
Thanks for sharing this! It is a great reminder that it’s not the quantity of giving, but the quality of the heart of the give that God cares about.
Recently I’ve been encouraged by 2 Corinthians 8:13 (talking about giving generously): “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”
xoJanuary 12, 2018 at 8:34 am
Beautiful! Thank you Alyssa!January 12, 2018 at 2:50 pm
I grew up know only a God of Shame. Took me many, many, many years to learn about a God of Grace. Along the way, I learned that I was a human BEing, not a human DOing. He loves you (and I) just where we are.January 12, 2018 at 10:42 am
That’s definitely true LeRoy! All human life has value and it is not measured by how much a person can do.January 12, 2018 at 2:52 pm
So sweet, Ana. A good word to do what we can and what God is calling us to do.January 12, 2018 at 11:47 am
I thought of you and Brett when I was with your family for their Christmas get together. It would be special to see you again. You are in my prayers, often. Love you, Tia Joyce
Good to hear from you Aunt Joyce! I too would love to see you again. Thank you for commenting. Love you! 💕January 12, 2018 at 2:52 pm
I think that it is helpful to remember that life is long and that contributions, including yours, that change the world, or at least someone else’s life, for the better, can happen in moment and that moment could be an hour from now or 50 years from now. In fact I am sure you, and pretty much everyone else in this world, has already contributed far more than you realize. I bet if you think back over your life you can find numerous times where you have given an encouraging word or imparted some skill or knowledge to another (I think this blog alone would qualify in spades on both counts). Hang in there and realize that in nature things take time, seeds can lie dormant for decades before sprouting and bears hibernate for over half the year – doing “nothing” in our eyes, but do you think that’s the way God see it?January 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
Thank you so much for writing this James! I absolutely agree with what you’re saying. Such a good reminder. 🙂January 12, 2018 at 2:53 pm
Wow!!!! This post was amazing, Ana!! And I so needed to hear this. Lately, I’ve been struggling with feeling like this myself. Like I’m not doing enough with my life to serve God and in the whole scheme of things, when you compare little me, to large people that have huge ministries etc, that my contribution is so very small. And I think our current culture only feeds into this, with everyone striving to be noticed, develope huge platforms, and have stunning bios. God has been working on me though, through His word and a little book called, “Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to be Noticed” by Sara Haggerty. And the truth of it all is that God doesn’t really need me to “do” or “be” anything for Him. He’s God and our job here is to offer our lives in whatever manner he calls us to, big or small. But most importantly to worship and have relationship with Him. Yes, we all want to feel valuable and like we’re making an impact. I think He gave us these desires, but it’s what kind of impact and how He measures it, that’s important. And to Him, making soup for your sick neighbor, listening to your child read a story, or saying thank you to your husband for taking care of you, is just as important as having an international ministry. When I think of all the missionaries serving daily, day in and day out, with no recognition at all. That’s devotion and love for God and people!! Thank you so much for confirming what the Lord has been speaking, ever so softly to me lately!! You stated this so eloquently!! Oh, and I think you’ve actually made a huge difference for so many. Most of which you will not know until heaven!! 🙂January 12, 2018 at 10:08 pm
Thank you so much for sharing this Chris! It’s so true! That sounds like a really good book.January 15, 2018 at 11:48 am
This post is stunning, Ana. Not only are you opening up and telling us all about your journey (which takes a lot of courage!), but you’re encouraging and helping others (Christian or not) through your words.January 13, 2018 at 3:00 pm
Thank you for writing this, Ana. Your words are so impactful, raw, and so very true. Keeping you in my prayers. ♡
Thank you so much for this sweet comment Charis. 💕January 15, 2018 at 11:49 am
Thank you for sharing these thoughts; they were such an encouragement to me today. I’ve been on an elimination diet for over a year, trying to improve my health and put my Hashimoto’s disease in remission. Recovery is back and forth so much – and sometimes it’s even more discouraging to have a setback after a few good days or weeks. I’ve just started to be able to keep up with more than laundry and dishes (and my 3.5 year old son), and it’s overwhelming to realize how much I “need” to catch up on. But remembering that God sees my little effort for my family and for Him, and that He knows how difficult it is – that makes it so much more worthwhile.January 13, 2018 at 8:19 pm
I’m so glad it was an encouragement Vanessa! Thank you for sharing your story. I can definitely relate to it being harder to face bad days after doing well. I pray you will have more and more good days and experience complete remission. 💕January 15, 2018 at 11:55 am
This was incredibly touching to me. I deal with chronic health issues and am mostly homebound. I long to “be” more and “do” more for God… but I do have a Christian blog that reaches thousands every month; so I suppose I need to not feel so inadequate seeing how God can take my two pennies and turn it into something much more. All glory goes to him. I so appreciate you writing this… it will stick with me.January 14, 2018 at 7:28 am
I’m so sorry your comment got stuck in spam! Thank you for letting me know how my post impacted you. 💕January 17, 2018 at 7:05 pm
I think you would be encouraged by the story of Christiana Tsai, a Chinese Christian who suffered from spinal tuberculosis, but had a powerful prayer ministry. https://openlibrary.org/works/OL5904096W/Queen_of_the_dark_chamber
And for physical health I highly recommend you check out the website of Joette Calabrese, a homeopath who follows the new approach pioneered by the Drs. Bannerji of Kolkata, India. She has a very informative website at joettecalabrese.comJanuary 14, 2018 at 5:56 pm
Thank you for sharing the love of a God who treasures the seemingly “insignificant” efforts faithfully given by His children, and for writing with such beautiful transparency. Your blog is a consistent source of encouragement for me, and I pray that you will continue to see progress in your recovery journey.January 14, 2018 at 7:22 pm
Aww! I’m so glad Peytyn! Thank you for this encouragement!January 15, 2018 at 4:12 pm
Your posts are always so encouraging to me, Ana! Thank you for writing them and for your strong faith and love for God and those around you.January 16, 2018 at 10:02 am
I pray for you every single day! <3
I’m sorry I missed your comment Aleigha! Thank you for your kindness and your prayers. I really appreciate it. 💕January 18, 2018 at 5:49 pm
Ana, dear, your words are so wonderful and beautifully spoken and so very true. And it’s neat that God looks at our hearts… much more than what we do or can’t do! And you have been such a testimony to our family and countless others these years in your endurance, faith and deep walk with the Lord in the midst of much suffering, pain and hardships! And you continue to trust and cling to Him and keep your beautiful smile… in the midst! And yes, as you wrote in your last posts …you have come so far and doing so much (the hiking and dancing, etc) and we have been blessed to be with you and Brett on this very difficult journey! And to see Brett’s love and care for you, has so ministered to our hearts! Love, hugs and prayers! Ann, Chuck and GabriellaJanuary 16, 2018 at 9:39 pm
Aww… Thank you so much Mrs. Tompkins! Such sweet and encouraging words. Thank you so much for your prayers and support over the years. Much love to you and Mr. Tompkins and Gabriella. 💕January 17, 2018 at 8:50 pm
Thank you Ana. This has encouraged me more than you know.January 29, 2018 at 1:43 pm
I found this post through going to the young writers program your husband does (thought I’m older than both of you, heh). He mentioned in a video today that his wife had been sick for several years and my curiosity brought me here. And I cried and cried because there are so many who could and don’t. And there are so few who would and can’t.
It won’t be you who misses the commendation. It will be us. It will be the ones who could have and didn’t, the ones who looked the other way, who crossed to the other side of the road.
Jesus is shining through you. ❤️January 29, 2018 at 1:51 pm
Aww… Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement Jennifer! 💕February 1, 2018 at 11:55 am
Just to let you know, I have a few friends with chronic conditions, including Lyme’s disease. They often feel like they are a burden, with nothing to share. They feel guilty when they have to cancel events, or when they can’t call or text because it gives them a headache, or when they tell me all the challenges of being sick. But, to be honest, these are the friends who encourage me the most. When I hear what they are going through, but see that they still trust God, that motivates me to love God more myself. That’s one reason why persecution strengthens the church—people are convinced that God is real when they see Christians who have hope in suffering.February 7, 2018 at 9:32 pm
Wow. I needed this right now, today. Thank you for sharing.February 9, 2018 at 6:07 pm
Once more, Ana, I’m humbled by your Godly wisdom…..YOU ARE SERVING HIM IN WAYS THAT YOU ARE NOT AWARE OF…AND…YOU WILL HEAR, “Well-done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” [His joy is for now….in you and through you to others. His healing is for now….’Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord God Almighty. ‘ ]February 12, 2018 at 5:56 pm
Been reading this book lately, entitled, “Josiah’s Fire”. You and Brett may be interested.
Aww… Thank you so much Tamam for your encouragement! It’s good to hear from you. We love you. 💕February 23, 2018 at 5:45 pm
This is beautiful, Ana. Thank you for writing this. It’s not how much you give, but how much it costs you. Love you and am praying for you! <3February 22, 2018 at 3:16 pm
Aww… Thanks Essie. 🙂February 23, 2018 at 5:46 pm
Ana, this just broke me down. I have been struggling for years with my health and have been feeling the exact same way for a very long time. I am crying as I write this. God is so amazing that he used your “widows mite” to let me know he sees what I’m giving too and I may not know it yet but he’s using the little I can give in amazing ways. I wanted you to know how much He used your “little bit” given to speak to me in an amazing way. You’ll know just how much this means in my life when you get to heaven and hear “well done my good and faithful servant”. Thank you for sharing God’s love with me today. And thank you for showing me being obedient to his will with what I have to give doesn’t mean it’s worthless because it’s less than what others have to give.February 24, 2018 at 8:51 am
Aww! Thank you for taking the time to reply Kenna. Your comment actually made me tear up. It means a lot or have encouraged a sister in Christ so deeply. I can’t wait to hear your story when we meet in heaven. 💕February 24, 2018 at 1:14 pm
Thank you! This is the most encouraging thing I have read since my own chronic illness began (age 36). So helpful!February 27, 2018 at 1:10 pm
I’m so glad to hear this Pastor M. It must be even more difficult as a pastor. Keep serving the Lord with what you have. It doesn’t take much to have a big ripple effect. 🙂February 27, 2018 at 6:39 pm
Ana, thanks so much for this post! As a Lyme recoverer, I can so understand this, and I’m very encouraged by your perspective. You’ll be happy to know I shared it with about 25 friends today who have health struggles. THEY ARE SO ENCOURAGED!!
One said, “Oh my goodness Sara. I am in awe of how God is in complete control right down to the most intricate details – i.e. allowing that woman to be sick; to prompt her to write this and give her husband the skills to produce website and blog; for you read it and feel compelled to share with me – who just sent to cousin Susan struggling with lung disease!! Blows me away every time!! Thank you for listening to the promoting to send to me Sara! Timing couldn’t be more perfect – for many reasons!😘💜😘”
Thanks for being a blessing! Love and prayers!April 14, 2018 at 11:50 am
Wow! Wow! This comment encouraged me so much. And I needed encouragement today. Thank you so much Sara! 💕April 14, 2018 at 2:25 pm
I find this and other posts of yours encouraging. Thanks for writing this blog. I have been dealing with a chronic illness for a while now and it can get discouraging when I can’t do as much as I want to. I have to remember that God can use even the little things we can do to help others and for his glory. Maybe he will even use me to encourage others who are dealing with chronic illness. I am sorry about all that you go through with your illness. It can’t be easy and I will keep you in my prayers.
I tried to sign up for your email list and get the five resources, but it isn’t working for me.April 20, 2018 at 7:04 am
This blog have been such an encouragement to me, Ana. I just wanted to let you know how much your words have meant to me. I am only a teenager, but I have struggled with so many chronic health issues for so long. While I take comfort because I know God has a plan and is using my sickness, there are definitely times when I have been so discouraged, especially by the fact that there are so many things that I can’t do for the Lord. This post especially has been a huge blessing to me, reminding me that just because what I do for the Lord is usually smaller than how other people serve, it is still giving.May 3, 2018 at 8:21 pm
Thank you Ana!
This is a amazing reminder. We just need to give everything we can at the time. God understands and will still except the little things.October 12, 2018 at 9:53 am
Ana,December 7, 2019 at 12:23 pm
I just came across this post and know it would resonate with the Chronic Joy community. You are invited to share it with us, so we can republish it. The Write For Us tab has details and I would be happy to answer any questions. Please let me know. Thank you.