The following is the the introduction to The Cure for the Chronic Life: Overcoming the Hopelessness That Holds You Back by Deanna Favre and Shane Stanford, Copyright 2010 by Abingdon Press
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted…
Isaiah 61: 1
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength…Proverbs 17: 22
“Lord” he said, “if you want to, you can make me well again.” Jesus reached out and touched the man. “I want to,” he said. “Be healed!”
Luke 5: 12-13
What could an HIV-positive minister and the wife of one of the NFL’s greatest players have in common? More than one might imagine. Each of us has lived through difficult life situations and illnesses, overcoming the propensity for chronic hopelessness, to discover the transforming grace and strength of God– no matter how much the questions seemed unanswerable.
Our friendship was born from one of life’s “coincidences.” We discovered our common roots as survivors of chronic illness, but also as survivors of those chronic life situations that, oftentimes, come to define our perspectives of self, others and God. After all, haven’t we all asked questions of God when hope seems lost or at least out of grasp?
In this book, we share our personal journeys and offer a word of hope for those going through life’s everyday struggles, and we ask the question, “Are you living in Crisis or in Christ?” The answer to this question, more than any question we know, determines so much of how we see both the world and our issues. But more important, it also determines how we view the potential of our solutions and faith in Christ.
This book is framed in the language of questions and answers, hope and despair, ache and healing. These are words that every person will understand, whether from personal experience or from conversations and interactions with others. Regardless, we have all had unanswered questions that seemed to foster unreasonable decisions; feelings of despair that promoted a sense of apathy or discouragement; or the emotional, physical, or spiritual ache that kept us from seeing God in our midst and from living faithfully as God’s person in our paths.
These questions, and this journey, refer to many of life’s situations. Most of the time, we use such language when we feel as though too much is unanswerable, undoable or unreachable. But what about the other side of that language? What about a God who provides answers for our questions, possibilities for our uncertainties, and a new story and narrative for the unrecognizable avenues of grace and hope in each of our lives? This book answers those questions and provides a picture of hope in spite of our aches and pains–emotionally, relationally, physically or spiritually. God’s wonderful gift to us through Christ not only addresses these old hurts, habits and hangups, but it also gives us a new path and a new opportunity for grace and healing. And that, more than anything, is the reason we wrote the book—that God’s redeeming love will meet the deepest of our questions and help us to begin again.
In fact, the unanswered life can be as simple as a spiritual ache or as complicated as a debilitating disease. In other words, it may be as simple as a bad attitude or as complicated as a broken or betrayed relationship. Either way, the effects become habitual and infectious in how we make life decisions and, especially, how we connect with others. In fact, one of our primary goals is to describe how disconnection, disaffection and misdirection from life ultimately creates more damage than any physical illness could.
A life of unanswered questions, of broken relationships, or misguided intentions, of habitual patterns of poor decisions, or a life with the wrong answers from the start invariably disrupts our relationship with God, because, as the effects grow, our natural tendency is to turn “inward” (the original dilemma from the Garden of Eden) and to focus more and more on our own self interests. This not only makes relationships difficult for us but it prevents us from adequately connecting to God in the ways He would have us grow and serve in Him.
We believe the answer to our questions, to life’s most enduring questions, remain found within our relationship with God, especially as they are shared, expressed and lived out in faithfulness with each other. Further, we discovered that God, through Scripture provides these answersin four primary categories: Compassion, Understanding, Response and Encouragement. Each category provides a different way to view the world, to disconnect from our self-destructive patterns, and to take up God’s purpose for our lives. And these answers show how living in Christ can change every aspect–yes, we mean every aspect–of our lives forever. God’s intention for us is that we will be permanently affected and changed. This is not supposed to be a series of treatable maladies; God wants a CURE.
You may be thinking—how convenient it is that the first letters of each of the four categories of answers form the word CURE. Actually, we tweaked them a bit to help you remember these important qualities in your life and to enable you to apply them in your journey. These categories for these answers are more than just a play on words or an acrostic; they are a connection to the life of Christ and to how Christ intended for us to live in our world, free from our aches and with our deepest, most important answers understood or at least trusted. Thus, we believe readers will find this conversation recognizable and simple, but also profoundly effective. We also believe that the impact of the chronic life can be complicated as it affects our lives. The results, as we have discovered, leave us living “Chronic in Crisis,” thus evoking worries of what the crisis will mean and do to us. But God’s plan is different. God wants us to live “Chronic in Christ,” thus throwing off our worries and experiencing the wonders of God’s Son.
This book is framed around a forty-day spiritual treatment plan or devotional guide that provides practical, daily connections to life lessons, Scripture, and prayer suggestions. Forty is an important number for several reasons. Most important, it represents the number of years the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness and the number of days Jesus spent being tempted by the Devil. But the end of the forty marks a transition point. After forty years, the children of Israel entered into the Promised Land. And after forty days, Jesus left the wilderness and began his public ministry that would change the world forever. Most Christians know of this information, but few realize the significance of this period of time for framing and forming the faith that we proclaim and believe today. Forty is a period of reflection, renewal, reframing, and restoration that ultimately leads to a new beginning.
God still wants a new and complete life for us today. He no more intends for us to live in an unanswered state or with a chronic impression of loss and incompleteness any more than He intended for us to live in sin and separation from Him.
However, The CURE for the Chronic Life is more than another devotional or self help book. It involves story—the stories of our lives; the stories of those whom we love and who have made a difference in our lives; and most important, the story of God and God’s love for us. Oh, and by the way, it includes your story, too. Because the more you read and work through the devotions day by day, the more you will discover that we are all amazingly knitted into the fabric of life together.
In this book, you will confront a very real conversation about real problems that plague real people, every day. But you will also discover real hope born of a real God’s VERY real love for you and me, a love that is forever.
Don’t Bet Against Me,by Deanna Favre. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (August 13, 2008)
A Positive Life, by Shane Stanford. Zondervan Publishers. (April 2, 2010)