Finding peace in the midst of chronic illness

Finding peace in the midst of chronic illness

I have the joy of introducing my new friend, Deborah Clack. We’ve never met in person (in fact, we just met on Twitter a few weeks ago) but I feel like I already know her and I think you’ll feel the same. She is precious. Like me, Deborah suffers from a chronic illness, but because she is so special, even the doctors can’t figure her’s out! But during her darkness moments — those moments that torment and twist our faith into a knot — she has found God’s faithfulness. It’s an honor to feature Deborah on Faith Notes.

Welcome Deborah!

Describe a time when you felt abandoned by God or very disappointed in Him, thinking He had failed you.

My health can be a challenge. It’s not that one thing plagues me. It’s that I have a snowflake, sensitive body that doesn’t react to life the way other people’s bodies do. The joke in my family is that my doctors have a support group they attend after trying to treat me. I get a dollar each time a medical professional says, “Deborah, this is very rare. I’ve never seen this before.”

After a round of major surgery, it became clear that something had gone very wrong. I developed a rare, large hematoma at the base of my spine, requiring an extended hospital stay, additional surgery, and causing problematic scar tissue and a subsequent injury. I’m not a stranger to enduring chronic pain. But this time around, I had a husband and little ones to take care of while managing pain, heavy medications, doctor appointments, and searches for relief. I wasn’t allowed to pick up my young children, and I had to withdraw from activities in my life because there just wasn’t enough energy to go around. My world became very small. Medical needs drained our finances. With other compounding health issues, I had six surgeries during that time. Three years passed before I had a pain-free day.

During this time, how was your faith-walk impacted? Were you angry? Fearful? Numb? Doubtful? Did you turn your back on God for a while, or cling desperately to what you know to be true, even though your emotions told you otherwise?

I don’t think it shook my capital-F Faith, if that makes sense. God was still on His throne. But I had an underlying anger and blame. “Okay, Lord, I can handle this one big thing, but stop throwing other things at me.” Physical pain sucks energy from me faster than anything else. Every morning I would wake up, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the day. My energy was so deficient, and I had to guess at what point the pain was going to take over and end the day. I doubted my value as a wife and a mother. I wasn’t able to voice it at the time, but everything was such a struggle, my belief in God’s goodness for me was shaken.

What happened to resolve your faith crisis? How did God reveal Himself to you during this time? With extraordinary comfort? Reassurance? Peace that passes understanding? Quiet knowing?

I thought I was losing my mind. As a former athlete, I wasn’t able to use exercise as my normal outlet. My support systems had changed. I had no way to release my stress, and very little energy to do anything about it. I finally whispered to a friend and my husband, “I think I want to write a book.” During my three years of pain, I wrote three books. Those white pages did not judge me. They didn’t care what I could or couldn’t do physically. They listened. They were patient. They were loyal. There were no rules. Just blank pages beckoning me. I became lost in a world of fiction that allowed me to give a voice to every emotion I could come up with inside of stories that allowed my dormant creative side to flourish. God was breathing life back into me.

At the time, I told no one I was writing. I thought that was it. I never intended for anyone to read my work. But last year, God whispered new dreams to me. Since then, He has led me down a very specific path to find mentors, community, and a growth path through the world of being an author. I am constantly in awe of His very specific love for me during this time. It doesn’t matter if I ever get published. He is redeeming pieces of my life in ways I could not have done on my own. I wasn’t a writer by trade, and I wouldn’t have picked up a pen and paper to create stories if I hadn’t been stripped of everything else.

What scripture became a sure place for you?

I’m not sure that I had a scripture that I clung to during this time. However, I was very aware that  in spite of all the pain, God had not broken a single one of His promises to me.

Did praise play a part of your faith restoration? What about thankfulness? Is praise a big part of your faith-walk now?

Praise is a huge part of my restoration. Music speaks on behalf of my soul when I cannot find the words. These days, I’ll pull up “Reckless Love” (Steffany Gretzinger and Bethel Music) on YouTube and turn it up so the lyrics about God pursuing me with unrelenting love fill the room. He has climbed up mountains to come after me. I think thankfulness is powerful, too. I remember the day I was allowed to walk around the block for the first time. It was slow. It wasn’t pretty. I was in pain the rest of the day. But, wow, I was so grateful. Each step, big or small, is significant.

How do you find God’s peace when you are troubled?

I have to remember the journey that God has already taken me down. My personal Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11). I recall previous trials in my life when I wasn’t alone, and the ways God pulled me through each one. For this part of my journey, I remember the people He brought in my path to help me take care of my family, the unexpected times of financial provision for out-of-pocket treatments, the medical professionals figuring out how to unravel my pain. When I understand that God hasn’t forgotten me, then it’s easier to give my trust back to Him. Only in trusting Him can I release my burdens and truly find peace.

What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Lord and why?

Peace. I can do good work, execute research, try harder … those can all be good things. But I cannot manufacture peace. In the good times, and in the tough times, my peace always has to come from the Lord.

Could you offer some encouraging words for those who may be seeking the Lord, those wanting to draw closer to Him and trust Him more, especially during a painful season?

Go in the strength you have (Judges 6:14). Wherever you are today, you’re enough. Be gentle with yourself. Your anger, your despair, your pain does not intimidate the Lord. God is your Creator, and knows exactly what you need to see Him, feel Him, touch Him. The Bible says when we seek Him, we will find Him. Can you take the tiniest piece of faith you have and ask Him to show you His love? He has not forgotten you, and He has something in mind just for you. You don’t have to “do” anything. Just go in the strength that you have. Today.

More About Deborah 

Deborah Clack

Deborah Clack

Deborah Clack is a former high school AP history teacher. Now she creates stories of her own and asks her heroines, as well as her readers, to dig deep and laugh often. Her work received First Place Contemporary Romance in the 2017 BRMCWC Foundations Contest. Deborah lives in The Lone Star State with her family. She would love to connect with you on Facebook (clackdeborah), Twitter (@deborah_clack), Instagram (@deborah_clack) or on her blog at