faith, illness, testimony

Suffering in the Church

I remember when I first started having health problems, I asked for prayer at a church prayer meeting.

I would be awake for days at a time completely unable to sleep, and then I’d sleep for days on end.  

I had a newborn and a 3 year old,  so this was not a good thing.  

I was told I was too young to be as sick as I was describing.

The church leaders actually refused to add me to the church prayer list.

I was 24 years old.

The church often doesn’t know what to do with those of us with unexplained illnesses and pain.

Sometimes, other Christians even treat us like we’re not “real” Christians, because we’re not doing all the “normal” Christian stuff like–

consistent church attendance,


teaching Sunday School,

singing in the choir

preparing food for gatherings,

decorating the church.

Most people don’t realize how hard it is for those of us with illnesses to even get to church –let alone commit to help with anything.

For instance, I remember sitting in church a few Christmases ago. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t even sing.

All I wanted to do was sing Christmas carols with everyone else, but instead I sat there and wept openly.

I had to take a bunch of painkillers to even sit in the pew.

But singing was just too much.

Singing hurt so much I couldn’t do it.  

More recently, I’ve had internal bleeding. When the bleeding comes on, it’s accompanied by stomach and intestinal pain.

I didn’t attend church for six months, because I wasn’t sure I would be able to graciously handle the mess in a public place.

Don’t write us off!

The truth is that the Lord is working greatly in our lives through our pain!

Our ministry is our testimony of faith through our pain.

Don’t judge us unfairly.

Don’t assume that if we’re not at church it’s by choice.

Many times I wish I could go but my health condition prevents me.

Get to know us.

See what God is doing in our lives.

Maybe you will find that we minister to you through what God is doing in our lives.  

For me, if I can encourage or inspire someone, the weight of my struggles seem just a little less.

I may not be able to attend church every week, but my faith and my prayer life are quite active!

My pain has served to drive me to my knees and throw myself on God’s mercy and grace to sustain me.

Never underestimate what God is doing in those of us who are too sick to attend church.

His power and His hand are shown in many ways –and it’s not restricted to within the walls of the church.

This is a fabulous article about God working in us through pain and how the church can help those who suffer from chronic pain. I highly recommend it.


Sarah Forbes


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