Couch Disciples: Finding Purpose When “Doing” Isn’t An Option
Words by Moriah Chastney
For most of my life, the idea of sitting with Jesus was a Christian cliché that I knew I should want, but it just couldn’t compare with the excitement of doing all the things for Jesus. Our culture is one of “hustle harder” and “live your dreams” and “keep it all together.” It’s easy to read the directives given to the disciples in Scripture and interpret them through our cultural lens of achievement, assuming that being busy and doing it all is the ultimate way to ensure success.
When chronic illness entered the picture, life as I knew it ground to a halt. I was forced to spend my days doing what seemed like nothing, and a years-long battle began of trying to see value in simply being still and knowing God. As I lay on the couch day after day, month after month, too sick to do anything but attempt to meet my own basic needs, I started to be brave enough to ask God the hard questions that were pounding in my brain.
“What good am I to You or anyone else like this?”
“How will I ever do the things You say Your followers should do when I can’t function at the most basic level?”
And the most shameful one of all that took weeks of building up courage to utter out loud in a tiny whisper: “If I can never do another thing for You, will You still love me?”
The answers didn’t come right away or all at once. They came slowly and quietly, as I became brave enough to face them.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27)
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41–42)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:8–10)
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism)
I am created in God’s image. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from him is better than doing all the things for him. There is nothing I can ever do to earn God’s favor; it is solely a gift from him.
My primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy knowing him.
It’s that simple.
If you are one of the growing number of women who struggle with a chronic illness and you’re wondering if you can bring anything of value to the table when some days you can’t even stand long enough to take a shower:
Rest in the grace that our good Father gives us.
Rest in the knowledge that he wants you to sit quietly with him and learn from him.
Rest in the truth that not even the most overachieving of all the overachievers is more saved than you are because being saved is a gift and can never be earned.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)
Practical ideas to glorify and enjoy God when you have physical limitations:
• Immerse yourself in the Word and strive to know God more. Depending on your limitations, it might be as complex as doing in-depth studies, digging into the original language and investigating cultural backgrounds, or as simple as using the Dwell app or something similar to play Scripture quietly while you rest.
• Pray for others. Utilize technology to ask people how you can pray for them and do it! Not only are you caring for them by bringing their requests before the Lord, but it also keeps you in community with others even when you can’t always be present with them.
• Surrender your pride and ask for help. Serving others brings joy! Maybe you can’t serve like you want to right now, but you can provide an opportunity for others to serve.