Dear friend with a chronic illness…
There may be times when your friend says something hurtful to you about the way you live life with a chronic illness, the way you look, or the treatments you take. She may make comments that she intends to be helpful or encouraging, but that in reality are hurtful. She likely isn’t trying to be hurtful or inconsiderate; she simply doesn’t fully understand life with a chronic illness.
When this happens, give your friend the benefit of the doubt; she probably has good intentions. Be gracious and quick to forgive. Be patient with her in your friendship, gently helping her to understand what life is like with a chronic illness. In time she will come to understand you and your chronic illness better.
Dear friend of someone with a chronic illness…
There may be times when your friend doesn’t understand what life is like for you. If she has had a chronic illness for a long time, then she might have a difficult time understanding the hardships faced in life by those who are healthy. Your life and your struggles may be very different than hers. When she doesn’t understand, be patient with, and gracious to, her.
On the days when your friend is in a lot of pain or feeling especially down because of her illness, she may be grumpy, frustrated, or sad. You can show her love on the days when she is especially unlovable. You can show her grace and forgiveness, gently helping her through those hard and painful days.
Exhortation for us all…
There will be challenging days in friendship. We are all sinners, and sometimes we will miscommunicate, treat each other badly, and become frustrated with one another. On the challenging days, we would be wise to follow the commands in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
The hard days in friendship give us wonderful opportunities to work on developing the fruit of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
Let us seek to show these qualities in increasing measure to our friends. Let us be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. In our friendships, let us give the world a glimpse of the grace that Christ has so lavishly given to us.
Let’s hear from you!
If you are healthy, what is one of the most challenging things about friendship with someone with a chronic illness? How can you show your friend grace?
If you have a chronic illness, what is one of the most challenging things about friendship with someone who is healthy? How can you show your friend grace?
This post is part of the Chronic Illness and Friendship series.