How I’m Winning at Life Despite Chronic Illness - Finds.Life.Church

How I’m Winning at Life Despite Chronic Illness

by Charlie LaTurno

Is the condition of your health overtaking the condition of your hope? Is your physical condition today affecting your mental condition of tomorrow? Do you ever just feel like life is beating you down at every turn? Be honest with yourself here. My Senior Pastor, Craig Groeschel always says, “You’re only as good as you are honest.” Be honest with yourself. That’s the beginning of progress. In fact, honest self-appraisal is the path to help you start winning at life!

In the last three years of my journey, I’ve faced significant challenges with my physical health: kidney failure due to a blood clot, post-concussion syndrome, ataxia, debilitating migraines, partial and sometimes total vision loss, lack of balance, dizziness, constant nausea, chronic fatigue, short-term memory loss, slurred speech or at times the inability to speak. Those are just the highlights. Many (including myself on difficult days) would say I’ve lost so much during this time. And I have. I lost my ability to do the job God called me to do in ministry. My ability to be the husband, father, family member, and friend I’m supposed to be. And more.

But today, let me share with you what has sustained us. It has guided us. It has encouraged us. It’s actually very simple. The secret to winning at life, no matter what it throws at you, is just to win the day.

That’s it. Nothing fancy. Just. Win. The. Day. When I first faced these physical challenges, it was overwhelming. I spent time with God each day reading His word, listening to His voice, talking to Him, writing about Him, and just worshiping in His presence. But even after all that, I still felt overwhelmed. I was angry. I felt weak and useless. I had to figure out a way to make it—physically and mentally.

So there I was. Day after day. Week after week. Lying on our bathroom floor with my cool pillow. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t stop throwing up. The migraine pain was to the point where I just wanted life itself to end. The world would not stop spinning. I had no balance and couldn’t stand up. This was my life every day after physical therapy. Hour after hour. The only thing I could do at that point was listen to God’s Word on my YouVersion Bible App and lie there. In that place, something amazing happened.

I felt God speak directly to my heart one day, saying …

  1. I’ll never leave your side.
  2. I’ll never give up on you.
  3. I’ve forgiven you for yesterday.
  4. I’ve taken care of tomorrow.
  5. Love God … love people.
  6. Just focus on today. Focus on what you can do.

That was it. Just focus on today. That’s all I had to do. Win the day. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. I didn’t need to focus on making it through a week, a month, or a year. I didn’t need to worry about what was going to happen to my family, fulfilling our calling in ministry, or anything else. I just needed to win the day. Survive and advance. So that became my mantra. Every minute. Every day. I wrote it on my wrist with a Sharpie. #WinTheDay. I wrote it in my Bible. We put it on the mirrors in our house. I got a t-shirt with that on it. Our amazing team put it on a pin. I was laser-focused on winning just one day and getting some confidence.

I broke this #WinTheDay philosophy down into three simple steps for winning at life, every day.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters … Colossians 3:23 NIV

Work like it depends on you. Pray like it depends on Him. I set my mind that for 24 hours, I was going to work as hard as I could. And at the end of that 24-hour period, I could claim victory. I gave God my best. He gave me His best. And together we would #WinTheDay again and again.

… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

I have to be intentional about focusing on listing my blessings, not my troubles. List what you can do. List what you have. Thank God for it out loud. When we humble ourselves and truly worship God for all we have, we’ll realize how blessed we are despite any current condition.

… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me—put it into practice. And the peace of God will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NIV

Make a decision to embrace the pain or the struggle. Don’t endure it; embrace it. Tell your spiritual enemy he picked the wrong person because you’ve embraced the opportunity to show how strong Christ is. When I changed my mindset from enduring my illness to embracing it, it changed everything. My illness made it impossible for me to focus on everything around me. Like I said, I literally would have to spend hours lying down, eyes fixed on one point or the nausea, dizziness, and vomiting would overtake me. I decided to embrace the focus that my illness forced me to choose.

I would focus on what I could do. I could pray. I could listen to my Bible. I could list all the things I was grateful for. I could call someone and ask them to pray for me. I could listen to music. I could journal using the voice memo app on my phone. I could just try to listen for God’s voice. Do what you can do. Celebrate it. Gain confidence from it, and it will build.

So there you have it. Love God. Love Others. Work like it depends on you. Pray like it depends on Him. Don’t endure your situation—embrace the opportunity to let Christ shine through your weakness. Then God will do more than we can ask or imagine. Now let’s go #WinTheDay!

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