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Chronic Illness - Chronic Pain Articles Available to Read and Reprint

What's the Big Deal About Going to Church?
      I Don't Feel Good and So I Don't Gain Anything From it!

By Lisa Copen

"I didn't decide to stop going to church. I just missed a Sunday, then two. I really didn't feel well, and I was getting less and less out of it. Now it's been six months. I'm not sure if I am really missing anything."

"Why go when I can't even concentrate on what is being said? I'm in so much pain and it takes so much out of me… God must understand that!"

"I was really disappointed in how people responded to my illness: 'You must not have enough faith,' 'you obviously don't want to be healed since you didn't come Wednesday night…' Church just got too emotionally draining. I couldn't go without coming home in tears."

"I didn't have the energy to be involved in anything but the church service, so a lot of friendships just sorta drifted away and church wasn't fun anymore."

I've been there. I've felt that way too. We all have moments when getting out of bed on a Sunday morning (especially after trying to keep up with everyone on Saturday) is less than appealing. I've sat through many services, waiting for God to show me why He wanted me to come. I've felt lonely, in pain, frustrated, and sometimes even irritated. I've prayed, "Lord, open my heart, help me focus, let the pain subside so I can hear your Word. Lord, my throat is too irritated to sing, my legs too weak to stand, my wrists too sore to even rotate my hands toward you… but I am here… I surrender it all."

And then there are Sundays I crawl back into bed and say, "Lord, I just can't do it today."

So! How do we decide when to go to church and when to give in and go back to bed? When to change churches and when to stick it out? And why is it that Satan seems to attack our bodies so hard Sunday mornings about 8 a.m. in order for our spirit to cave in and stay home?

Going to church won't make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage will make you a car. But I encourage you to give it your best attempt! Get there! And if you can't plan on other alternatives to be spiritually fed. Hebrews 12:7 says, "Endure hardship as discipline." Many Sunday mornings will require discipline on your part to get there, but you will be blessed.

I Just Don't Feel Well Enough

First, what is "well enough?" Did you go somewhere yesterday that has caused you to feel worse today? Will you be going on outings the other days this week? If Sunday rolls around and you suddenly feel "under the weather," you can guess that Satan is attacking your body to make you feel discouraged. The last place he wants you is at church where you will gain encouragement and hope. The longer he can keep you away from there the more likely it is you will turn away from God.

If you are having an overall physical difficult season make some temporary adjustments. You may want to attend an evening service if you feel better at night. Sign up to automatically get the audio tapes of the service and find a friend that will meet with you weekly to discuss the sermon and connect spiritually.

My church has their entire church service broadcast live on their website Wednesdays and Sundays. If you're church doesn't, join me at www.maranathachapel.org. There are some Sundays I have sent my husband out the door to church and then curled up in my robe with coffee in front of the computer and 'joined him.' It's a temporary solution, but one I feel is God-ordained.

If you took the same excuses that we use for not going to church and apply them to other important areas of life you'd realize how inconsistent we can be in our logic.

Reasons Not to Wash

  1. I was forced to as a child.
  2. People who make soap are only after your money.
  3. I wash on special occasions like Christmas and Easter.
  4. People who wash are hypocrites. They think they are cleaner than everyone else.
  5. There are so many different kinds of soap, I can't decide which one is best.
  6. I used to wash, but it got boring so I stopped.
  7. None of my friends wash.
  8. The bathroom is never warm enough in the winter or cool in the summer.
  9. I'll start washing when I get older and dirtier.
  10. I can't spare the time.

I've Had My Feelings
Hurt Too Many Times


Okay, this is a big one. Research has shown that most people leave churches because of interpersonal conflicts. First, evaluate your own expectations. People aren't perfect; only God is. It's likely that no matter where you go to church there are going to be a few well-intentioned people that say something the wrong way and your feelings are hurt. It's not pretty. I've been there. I've driven home from church before in tears or even bursting with anger about something someone said to me that cut to the quick.

Bottom line: we can't change others. We can only change ourselves and how we respond. June's article on how to help others understand your illness may be helpful. By reading some books that Rest Ministries has available at The Comfort Zone, such as Struck Down But Not Destroyed, you will put your illness and other's responses into a new perspective.

Only through your relationship with Christ, however, will you learn how to respond with loving-kindness (or at least tactfully), gain wisdom in setting boundaries, and know whose opinion really matters. "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ," (Galations 1:10).

I Can Be a Christian Without Going to Church

True, however, Jesus emphasized the importance of His church. The Bible also emphasizes that regular worship, Bible study, fellowship with other believers, and service to one another are important. And the Bible warns against willful and persistent rejection of God (Hebrews 10:26). "The gratitude and enthusiasm of a saving faith leads us to want to thank and worship Him, to hunger for knowledge of truth, to desire a fellowship with other believers. Active church involvement provides an antidote to the culture. Church is where faith is nurtured, sustained, and will be a basis for us sharing our faith with others outside the church. Our faith moves us to action, to love and serve one another in words and in deeds" [Faith Facts].

If you do not look forward to going to church, the real issue may be that you are attending (or not attending!) the wrong church. Church is a place where you go to be renewed, to serve Christ, encourage and be encouraged by other believers. God gives each of us special gifts and yet if we don't go to church, people are not able to receive these gifts. Even if you think you don't need church, the church needs you!

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Get a free download of 200 ways to reach out to someone who is hurting from Beyond Caseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend when you sign up for hopenotes, a monthly ezine. Author of this article, Lisa Copen is also the founder of Rest Ministries and National Invisible Illness Awareness Week.

 

 


 

 



Don't forget! This article can be reprinted for free or syndicate Lisa's new articles.