What is a “chronic condition”?

There are many physical and emotional chronic conditions that impact people daily. Jesus has promised us rest!


According to Merriam Webster, “chronic” is something that is “continuing or occurring again and again for a long time.” If you look online, you can find various lists of specific conditions that are considered “chronic”, but they vary quite a bit in what they include. 

Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) talks about the varying schemes used for identifying chronic conditions. Each system uses their own definitions in regards to characteristics such as duration, remission, medical care required, quality of life, risk factors, etc. The various systems also come up with vastly different numbers of conditions from as few as 26 to as many as 185. Eventually a set “chronic disease indicators” (97 of them) was developed that can be used to ‘uniformly define, collect, and report chronic disease data that are important to public health practice‘.” (1)

It is very hard to pin down an “official” list of conditions that are considered chronic, but there are many different organizations that provide resources for individuals suffering from an illness that chronically impacts their life. As I dug around, many different conditions came up. Some of them were:

  • Asthma, COPD/Respiratory disease
  • Arthritis, chronic pain
  • Diabetes  
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease 
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Depression
  • Stress, anxiety

…and the list goes on. It’s likely that if you’re reading this, you or someone you love suffers from a condition that chronically impacts their life. 

When I first learned that half of all adults suffer from one or more chronic condition I was shocked. But when I looked at the definition of chronic and explored the list of physical, mental and emotional conditions that could fall under this definition, I actually started to wonder about the adults that don’t deal with this. The adults that are “normal”. The ones that that don’t wake up from day to day wondering how the illness will effect them that day.  

When you have a chronic condition, you will have days that are pretty good and days that are pretty awful. As you walk through life it is critically important to remember that God is with you in all of them. We have a Savior that suffered and died for us. He experienced real and true pain, both physically and emotionally. He longs to be able to comfort us. When the pain or frustration is too much to bear we need to remember that Jesus promised to give us rest. 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Empathetic Savior

(1) Defining and Measuring Chronic Conditions: Imperatives for Research, Policy, Program, and Practice, http://www.cdc.gov

    Finding Hope 

    The Center for Disease Control says that as of 2012, about half of all adult Americans live with one or more chronic health conditions. One in four people have two or more. That means that there is a very good chance that you or someone you love struggles daily with something such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, chronic pain, gastro-intestinal conditions, depression, anxiety, etc. The financial costs are staggering. Eighty-six percent of the nation’s annual health care expenditures can be attributed to managing and treating chronic conditions.  (Information obtained from http://www.cdc.gov.)

    But the financial costs, pharmaceutical debates, hospital visits, etc. are only part of the story.  The people that live every day with the realities that come with these conditions are the real story. They live each day around how they feel. Their chronic condition needs to be a consideration in how they choose to spend their days. — Will I be in pain? When do I need to take my medicine? Do I need to avoid this activity due to my illness? Will people think I’m just seeking attention? I don’t want to be a burden. 

    The people that love them also struggle trying to find the balance between helping them cope and giving them space. When someone we love is suffering, we want to do whatever we can to make it go away. — I wonder if they’re in pain, but I don’t want to bring it up. Should I invite them along or would it be too hard for them? If I offer to help will they think I’m being too pushy?

    Living in either part if this world can quickly lead to despair. Every day seems like another day to “just deal”. We desperately need hope. And although we can “hope” that modern medicine will find a cure; or “hope” that this new treatment will work; or “hope” that today will be a good day – there is only one place we can put our hope that will not fail. That is in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

    The Bible is full of hope, not the least of which is the fact that ultimately our hope in an eternity in the presense of God is secure because of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved! (Acts 4:12) And if you have not yet surrendered your life to Jesus, that is the most important decision you can make. Once you do that, you have the promise of the peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

    But even when you are a redeemed Child of the Living God, you will still battle with doubt and despair. That is when you need to turn to the Word of God and to your brothers and sisters in Christ to get your focus off of your circumstances and on to your Savior.

    Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    Nothing is hopeless with Jesus