An Unusual Blessing

Jenna Brooke Carlson, Guest Writer, Huntley | April 12, 2023

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Global serving trips are supposed to be good things, and they are, but my last trip didn’t feel that way at first. Instead, it came with the worst physical pain I’ve felt in my entire life.

After returning from the Dominican Republic, I experienced familiar reentry symptoms—unpleasant stomach issues. Every day I waited for the symptoms to pass as they had after previous trips. This time, however, was different. Instead of feeling better each day, I grew worse.

Lying in my bed one afternoon, I wondered why God would allow me to become so sick after doing a “good thing.” I felt called to go on the trip. I experienced amazing moments and went to help others. Why did I feel like I was being punished instead of blessed for following God’s lead?

Experiencing Incredible pain and being unable to keep anything down, I went to the emergency room where I was admitted for colitis. It was a long journey, but after numerous tests and eleven days in the hospital, I was placed in the care of a gastroenterologist who suspected irritable bowel disease.

A colonoscopy two months later confirmed a Crohn’s Disease diagnosis. The diagnosis turned out to be an unusual blessing. Crohn’s can be difficult to diagnose. While the mission trip hadn’t given me the disease, it revealed the illness. I’d sought help for stomach issues before, but nothing came of it. Now with a true diagnosis, I could move forward with treatment.

Our bodies are not invincible. I’m extremely grateful God has given doctors the knowledge to provide medication so my fragile vessel can keep working for His good. It’s going to be a lifelong battle, but I know I’m not in it alone. God is right here, holding my hand through treatments and providing endurance along the way.

God can work through us no matter the circumstances. My vessel may be imperfect, but it’s not broken. God’s power can still work through me. My cracks help me come alongside others in pain, encouraging them and reminding them God is still there.

Next Steps 

  • What in your life makes you feel fragile? Talk to God about it. Ask Him to come alongside you and help you endure.
  • Is there someone in your life who could use some encouragement? Pick up the phone and remind them God is with them.