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Nov 29, 2023

Sandra Joseph helps us reevaluate our questions to God and choose to seek the questions He is asking us.

Get Sandra's Journaling Guide to help you ask God better questions.

Get your copy of What He Asks: My Journey of Finding God Faithful Through Chronic Illness.

What He Asks: My Journey of Finding God Faithful Through Chronic Illness


Show Notes:

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Welcome everyone. This is Dr. Sandra and you're listening to I Choose My Best Life. Today I'm chatting with Sandra Joseph and we're going to talk about what does it look like to stay in a place of faith when dealing with a chronic illness. And Sandra is joining us today to discuss her journey with the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and how God has met her in this process.

So Sandra. Thank you so much for joining me.

Sandra Joseph: I'm so thrilled to be here and there's nothing safer than being with a doctor, right? So I feel well cared for.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: I want to hear more about your story. I know that this has been a journey that you have been on for years and that you have learned a lot about God in the process.

Let's start a little bit about just what was it like when you first got to this place where you realized. That type two type one rather diabetes was going to be a ongoing part of your life.

Sandra Joseph: It was in a very tender time in my life. I was married one week at 21. I married my college sweetheart.

And we had been married a week came home on our honeymoon, I dropped 14 pounds on our honeymoon, was extremely tired on our honeymoon. And my mom took one look at me and said Something's wrong. And back then, this is 1981, and back then they had something called doctor books, where they were encyclopedias Of diet what do I want to say?

Symptoms. And those symptoms, she went through those books until she found out what I had. And it's not like we had Google back then. And she called my husband and I, one week married, and said, you need to get her to the emergency room right away. I went into the hospital with a blood sugar of 840. And extremely sick young woman, new marriage, new town, new apartment, new job, everything brand new and a total life change in so many ways at that point.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Now, where was your faith at the time all of this happened? Were you already someone who believed in God and had a relationship with Jesus or were you still investigating that part of your life at that time?

Sandra Joseph: No, I was a good little church girl. I'd grown up going to church. I loved Sunday school. I love church.

I went to a Christian college. I married the student Senate president. We were the ideal couple, and so I was very surprised that God was not yeah. Blessing all of our goodness, like I had been a good girl. Where was God living up to my end of the bargain and getting diagnosed one week after you were married was not part of what I thought a good God would do.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: I love where this conversation is going because now we're getting really in the real part of the journey, the part where our questions arise and we start doubting things. And sometimes we even start doubting God. And you actually have a book that is titled What He Asked, My Journey of Finding God Faithful.

Through chronic illness, how did you deal with the questions, those very same questions that you just mentioned?

Sandra Joseph: I had a lot of questions for God and I was not very happy with God, and I was not very happy with my life, and I was not nothing was right, and because I had really had a lot of expectations for marriage, a lot of expectations for what our life would look like, and so when God didn't meet all those expectations, I was extremely disappointed, and it really disappointed me.

But I found over time, and this I'm talking years, I'm not talking a few weeks or a few months, and I just gave in. I am talking years of trying to figure out who God is, why he would allow this to happen, and what he wanted from me, and instead of maybe asking him questions, allowing him to ask me questions.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: I think that's an interesting concept to take all of our questions, all of our doubts, all of our fears, all of those things that pop up when something like this happens in our life. Something that we can't explain is something that for us doesn't seem to make sense to then open ourselves up to what he's asking of us.

What are some of the questions that God asked of you?

Sandra Joseph: Some of the questions that God asked of me was the first one he asked Adam and Eve. Where are you? He wanted to know where I was. He wanted to know where I was physically, where I was emotionally, where I was spiritually. And until I could start working through those questions, where am I?

Where am I? That, could I even begin to understand who he was? Because I had to understand where I was. And I was angry. I was bitter. I was frustrated. I thought I deserved better. I thought I should be God and he should come alongside to give me what I wanted. I

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: think we've all felt that at some point in our journey that God, this is how it works when we serve you.

We have a life that does not have any difficulty that doesn't have any struggle but we know that's not biblical. That's not what the word of God says. It actually says the opposite that in this world, we will have those moments, right? Exactly. We will have those moments, but he's still faithful.

How did you get back on track from? the questions, the fears to a place where we're now 40 plus years into having type one diabetes. Not only are you helping people with chronic illness embrace the truth of their faith and the goodness of God, but you also are an advocate for diabetes awareness. How did you make that transition?

Sandra Joseph: I told, I remember telling my husband, I'm either going to leave this faith. Because I don't really like who this God has shown himself to be or I'm going to dig in and I'm going to get to know him. And obviously that was God gently drawing me in and sometimes hitting me over the head, drawing me in to say, get to know me, not who you want me to be, but get to know me.

And as he would beckon me each day, come sit with me and start reading my word. And I would read it. And maybe in a child's Bible to begin with, or I remember having a woman's devotional Bible, and I just loved the stories from the women would write in that devotional. Or, then I'd move to a study Bible.

I would begin to doing Bible studies, but I got to know him as opposed to what I. Wanted him to be. And as I got to know him, and reading a lot of books, John A. Erickson taught a great role model The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom, just really grew my faith. And so those are the things that started to shape who I knew God to be and what he was asking of me.

And realizing that it was his purposes at work, not my dream life that I had wanted.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith:  Now, under all of this is the relationship that we have with others when we're in a state of some type of chronic disease. What impact did this have on any of your relationships, either your marriage or even other relationships that you have?

Sandra Joseph: For years, I would go around asking people to. To show me that they cared and they just couldn't, they just couldn't, they just couldn't enter into that pain with me and I could read, sitting, cornering a pastor and asking him why this might happen or spending time with mentors and just lamenting that God had allowed this in our lives, just there was so much pain I used to say that I used to just like Dump on people and they just look at me and go, Oh, I don't you'll be okay.

You'll be okay. And back away because they didn't know what else to do again. It was finding that from like first Peter says cast your cares on. Him because he cares for you. When I realized he understood best what I was going through, where I was at, he knew what was going through my mind.

And even better than that, he knew how my body was handling, uh, the insulin that day or the exercise I was doing that day or the food that I was eating. He knew it so much more than my husband or anyone. Yes, I do

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: think people sometimes struggle with really understanding what it's like to live with a chronic disease.

If you've never, if you've never taken care of someone with a chronic illness or you've never personally had one, it can be hard to know how to help and how to support them because you don't really know how to enter into even the conversation sometimes. What are some of the struggles and fears that you work through when you are living with a chronic illness?

Sandra Joseph: All I need is for a commercial to come on about diabetes and anymore because there are so many diabetes drugs they come on about every four or five minutes and they always list heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and all of a sudden I can be sitting there and I can suddenly allow that into my mind and it can change me from an enjoyable evening to one where suddenly I'm filled with fear.

A doctor's appointment can do that for me. All it takes for me is to wake up and something doesn't feel quite right. What's going on? Where, yeah, what do I, how do I need to manage it? So the fear is a constant companion. One of the things you don't understand about a chronic illness is the dailiness of it. You don't take a break. You don't take a vacation. You don't get an opportunity to eat a meal and not cover it with insulin.

You don't get an opportunity to just go exercise without looking at where you're at, how much insulin you have on board, and how much energy are you going to output. It just is a constant daily thing that you never escape.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Now at this time in your life with the work that you do with women and the different ways you've learned how to minister to people with chronic illness, what advice would you give to those of us who want to be more supportive?

Are there questions that we could ask or ways that we could approach the conversations so that we don't want people to feel as if we feel like they can't take care of themselves or that they're helpless in any way? We want to be supportive without being overbearing.

Sandra Joseph: That's great. I'm so glad you asked that.

So you can ask questions. All you want. As long as you're willing to listen. If you really want to know, then ask questions and listen. But if you don't really want to know, it's okay not to ask. It truly is. I'd say one of the big things. And when diabetics get together, we like to share horror stories.

And that is of the stories people have told us. I cannot. Tell you the number of times I've been told about great Aunt Sally, who lost both of her legs, who was blind, she just was very sweet and I will take a, I will walk away from that and I will have to work through that fear of becoming like Aunt Sally.

The other thing you can do is to pray right there on the spot. And there's some certain things you can pray for, pray that the medicine works right. Pray for insurance issues. I just dealt with an insurance issue a couple, an hour ago. Supplies, durable medical supplies that need to come.

That is an ongoing thing. You can pray for my family. As they have patience to deal with this, that my husband will have kindness towards me and you can pray that God will use this chronic illness for his goodness. The 2 Corinthians 1 talks about how the God of compassion treats us with compassion.

So we can treat others with that same compassion. I need to be extending that compassion to others, that hope, that joy, that life is meant to be

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: lived. Yes, and with November being Diabetes Awareness Month, I think this is a great time to, to even share some of the statistics. What is it that you've learned regarding the statistics as it relates to diabetes in America?

Sandra Joseph: Right now about 11 percent of all Americans are dealing with some type of diabetes, whether that's whether that's type one or type two or a family member with diabetes, that's a huge number and the epidemic of it is just really growing. And there's also a whole section I'm not going to pull up this statistic right away but of people who have pre-diabetes that don't even know that they have it.

And I am telling you especially type two, because you can be a, you can get away with a little more like that. I've just sat with some people in the last couple of weeks who have had type two diabetes that have some horrific complications that because they weren't taking insulin, they didn't have to think about it quite as intensively.

Sandra Joseph: The other statistic is that it is a chronic illness and a lot of people will say, Oh, diabetes is no big deal. That is not true. Diabetes affects your internal organs. It affects blindness, kidneys, heart disease. A lot of your heart illness and heart disease is from type one diabetes or type two.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Yes, I think it's important to if you're not to get regular physicals from your physician once a year is recommended, particularly if you're someone over the age of 40, just to be able to have routine lab work, a routine fasting blood test can give some initial information about whether or not your hemoglobin is elevated.

And if it is elevated, then they can do what's called a hemoglobin A1c to give a little bit more detail about whether or not you're in prediabetes, or diabetic range, and then other testing can follow from there. So I think it's really important to get those routine physicals, even if you feel perfectly normal.

Oftentimes you can be pre-diabetic and have zero symptoms whatsoever. Or Sandra mentioned she was already fully diabetic by the time she was diagnosed with a glucose of over 800, which for those who don't know, Typically it should be well under 200, even if you've eaten like a full brownie or something.

So 800 is quite high. So you want to make sure that you are monitoring those things. And I just love that, you can be diagnosed with a chronic illness, but you can still have hope. You can still enjoy your life. It is not a, it is not a diagnosis unto death. It is one that you have to.

Absolutely. Sandra is when you have to lay claim to that you are going to do the things needed. And I want you, Sandra, to share a little bit about what are some of the health tips that you've learned as a type one diabetic that you would like to share with anyone else who either knows someone who's diabetic one or two or just wants to continue to live a healthy life.

Sandra Joseph: Get as much information as you can. And a diabetes educator is your, it should be your best friend. She will have all the information on all the newest. Insulins, syringes, pumps, CGMs, all that is just. I want, she's your doctor will guide, but the diabetes educator is, she's just key to all of that.

Let people know. And for years, I wouldn't let anybody know. I just kept it really close, you collapse a couple of times and people are going to know, hey, you need some help. And it's okay to say, when you're traveling or whatever. I think I need some help. We all need help every once in a while.

And I just want to tell that I met Dr. Sandra at a recent retreat and I sat down beside her to have a meal and she said to me My, that's a wonderful meal for a diabetic. And that was like putting a little feather in my cap. Wow. Okay. Like I wasn't sitting there because I was expecting her to give me a compliment, but those kinds of compliments just go really long ways.

Okay. I'm eating protein. I'm eating some complex carbs. I'm eating a healthy fat. Okay, I can go on and do this again for lunch.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: Absolutely. I think as a physician, my eye is very mindful of those kind of things. We've been chatting with Sandra Joseph. She's the author of What He Asked, My Journey of Finding God Faithful Through Chronic Illness.

Sandra, I want to make sure people know how to connect with you and how to get a copy of your book.

Sandra Joseph: Thank you for allowing me to share this. You can find my book at whatheask. com and on there you can also find the journaling guide of the questions that God asks his people that are listed in the book.

And those are the questions of where are you? How'd you get here? Who do you say God is? And do you want to be healed? Those are all great questions. And of course you can find me on social media at Sandra Joseph.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: So we will link to her websites as well as to her book directly so that for those of you who want to have a copy, I think it's important if you're living with chronic illness, or if you have someone who you love who is dealing with a chronic illness and maybe in this situation like Sandra mentioned, where they're battling a little bit with their faith, I think it's important to come alongside them, let them know there's no shame in feeling that, I think anyone would feel that, but they're there.

Thank you. There is an opportunity to then transition from that feeling of fear and doubt back to a place of hope and trust.

Until next time, everyone live fully, love boldly and rest intentionally.


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