The Chronic Gospel

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on March 8, 2022. You can find it here.)

One in 3,200. 

That’s the statistic: for every 3,200 live births in the US, one sweet baby will have a rare, incurable, progressive disease called cystic fibrosis. On July 1, 2020, my daughter arrived in the world as the one. 

Since receiving her diagnosis, the gospel has proven both an anchor and a buoy, tethering me from drifting and protecting me from sinking. Here are a few reasons I can’t imagine navigating this kind of brokenness apart from the cross of Christ:

  1. The gospel dignifies the sick. In the face of a culture that views chronically ill individuals as second-class citizens, Jesus declares that everyone is created with value and purpose. Even the weakest among us bear God’s image in a beautiful way, and we’re all less human when we stop choosing to see them.
  2. The gospel provides a context for suffering. Without faith, disease seems random, the senseless cruelty of an impersonal world kicking innocent people around. But the truest Story says that while sickness is a result of mankind’s choice to sin, a loving God is still in complete control over even our worst days. 
  3. The gospel offers a safe space to grieve. We don’t have to numb ourselves, pretending everything is dandy. Nor are we doomed to wallow in sadness until it destroys any hope for the future. Calvary displays a Savior robust enough to weep with those who weep. 
  4. The gospel transforms our pain. Suffering for the Christian is not a punishment to break us but a crucible to forge something precious. Our smiling Father uses storms to create what calm shores never could.
  5. The gospel loads our pockets with promises. We have everything we need for life and godliness. We won’t ever be left alone. We are being changed into His likeness. We will share in His glory as we share in His suffering. We are building character and hope and perseverance. These assurances and hundreds more pave the road back home.
  6. The gospel showcases Jesus’ love. One of the many reasons my King went to the cross was to wage war against the brutal effects of this disease. He came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. That, my friends, is a personal Rescuer.
  7. The gospel points out a trail to follow. Jesus was a Man of sorrows, one who chose the way of brokenness to heal our brokenness. Walking in His footsteps will keep us from wandering off into danger.
  8. The gospel trains us to seek tastes of redemption. My family has days we feel “stuck in the fall,” where all we can see is the looming dark. But Jesus punches a hole in the roof of our lives, climbs in, and reveals surprising spots of brightness. His kingdom is coming even here, even now.
  9. The gospel reminds us that there’s a Hero—and that it’s not us. Christ alone is the Savior. I can rest in Him and work with Him while rehearsing the truth that my daughter’s life doesn’t rise and fall on my effort. 
  10. The gospel births glorious anticipation. There’s no disease in heaven. No breathing treatments or hospitals. Do you know what there is instead? Joyful freedom. Unhindered worship. God so near you can almost taste Him. The goodness and longevity of our destination make any current temporary pain endurable. 
  11. The gospel reorders our loves. Prior to the diagnosis, I dreamed of a story that didn’t require God to show up every second of the day, but He had a better plot in mind. It’s yet another tool designed to pry my fingers from this world, to plant a more eager expectation for life in the next.
  12. The gospel deepens our faith. We press into the fact that while we don’t know what’s best, God does. Keeping our hearts still before Him, even in the dark, yields a childlike dependence that’s crucial for our ability to thrive. 

So there you have it: the good news isn’t just for good days. Indeed, it can sound like the best news on the worst days. No matter what we face, the wealth of the gospel is more than enough to see us through. Jesus is the only hope we have, but He’s also the only hope we need.

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