We’ve all known some level of suffering throughout our lives. Whether disease, war, loneliness, abuse, unemployment, or loss of a loved one, suffering affects us all. It’s how we react that sets us apart from others, especially for those who follow Jesus. Following is a true account of one woman’s suffering. Other stories of overcoming suffering can be found in the summer issue of Wesleyan Life magazine, both print and electronic versions.

In 2010, I found myself in a ministry role I never foresaw having in the small, rural town of Fillmore, N.Y.

Seven years prior, a journey began in my life that has forever changed me. I began to experience joint pain and chronic fatigue. I went to many doctors without any relief or diagnosis. It was five years before I finally had a diagnosis. Seronegative rheumatoid arthritis is not typically found in blood testing used to diagnosis rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

I have never been more relieved and scared at the same time, as RA is an incurable, chronic disease. I did not understand why this was happening to me at age 41. I had a full and busy life ahead of me. Elders at my church have prayed over me and anointed me with oil on several occasions for my healing. I fully believe God’s answer to these prayers has always been “not now.” I believe this so strongly, because God has done amazing miracles to provide for me in the area of medication. RA medicines are extremely expensive, yet God continually provides resources for them.

I didn’t understand why God would allow my RA battle to continue until the last few years–when we moved to Fillmore, where my husband serves as senior pastor at Fillmore Wesleyan Church. I began to meet numerous people dealing with autoimmune disorders such as RA, lupus, Raynaud’s disease, and others. I met folks for coffee or lunch and talked on the phone regularly with others battling illnesses, giving wisdom and support to those who had questions or needed someone to listen.

Rheumatoid arthritis became a blessing then, when I realized God wanted to use me to shine his light around me. I still battle daily pain and fatigue caused by RA, but I now do it with a sense of peace, joy and hope. I know one day I will have victory over this disease when I get my new body in heaven. I look forward to that day, but until then, I can truly live out Romans 8:37, claiming victory in my current circumstances: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”