My Faith Gives Me the Strength to Cope With CF

The challenges of living with cystic fibrosis can sometimes be overwhelming. When I hit rock bottom, I found that my faith in God restored me and has helped sustain me through difficult times.

Aug. 27, 2020 | 5 min read
Matthew Ballard

Growing up as someone with cystic fibrosis, I obviously had some health issues, but I was able to play sports and do many things young boys like to do. I still enjoy playing sports and being active as I like to believe that I'm not becoming slower and less athletic the older I get, even though reality says otherwise. I made the extremely questionable decision to run a half-marathon last year on four weeks of training. It was my first and last half-marathon as a 60-year-old woman passed me on mile 9 and asked me, “Are you OK?” as she left me in the dust. Those final 4 miles were the longest and most humbling 4 miles of my life!


Here is my story of how suffering led me to experience a hope that my heart had been longing for. I believe it is a hope that we are all longing for. Sometimes, suffering is the main way we can experience that hope.

My CF started to become more difficult as I began my teenage years. I was introduced to PICC lines and the wonderful IV antibiotic of tigecycline (if you have done that antibiotic, you know I'm joking when I call it wonderful). Throughout my life, I have had around 15 PICC lines, which certainly is less than many other CF patients, but it is more than enough to bring me to the end of myself. I can remember several nights crying out in tears and frustration. This is where Jesus shines light into the darkness with a life-changing and eternal hope. I experienced him in a life-changing way the summer of 2011. After two-plus months of a second round of tigecycline and 20 pounds lighter, I was at the bottom. God met me where I was: broken, empty, and helpless. I saw there was nothing I could do to make him love me more or less. I saw that he was all I needed for everlasting joy.


I saw that the Christian life isn't one without suffering, but rather is one where God is with me in my suffering. I surrendered everything and -- nine years later -- I'm thankful for that summer and for my CF that brings me to the end of myself where I find God embracing me as his own.

I can recall several times where I wanted to ask myself, “Why me?” as I live life with CF. I have also wanted to ask, “Why us?” as my wife and I can't have children naturally because of my CF. Although I have asked that question many times, God has shown me he is faithful and good, and my suffering is not without purpose. I have certainly struggled to have joy through the big effects of living with CF -- such as PICC lines, infertility, and hospital stays. However, I honestly think I have struggled more to have joy in the midst of the smaller effects of CF that don't seem as difficult. These are small issues that most people don't realize are effects of living with CF but are reminders that I don't and can't live a normal life. It is easy to drift into the questions like, “Why me? Why can't I live a normal life?” If I am being honest, I have thought several times, “If I didn't have CF, I could be or do ...” Whether I am correct or it is my competitive ego talking is irrelevant. My identity and worth are not found in what I can or can't do, but they are found in who I am in Christ -- an adopted son. That identity is one that I can't lose because I never earned it but rather received it through faith.

I must remember that God didn't make a mistake in allowing me to have CF, and he is working even when I can't see it. God has provided every time and by his grace has given me a great life to thrive in CF.

I have been married for almost two years, and we are in the process of trying to have kids. I have an awesome full-time job that I love, I am working toward my master's degree, and I recently got put on Trikafta®, which has made a huge difference.

My hope is not in myself, my family, my job, my seasons of good health, my abilities, or my accomplishments. My hope is found only in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. My hope is in whom God has been and always will be. Faithful. Good. Loving. Wise. Powerful.

Interested in sharing your story? The CF Community Blog wants to hear from you.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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I grew up in Columbia, S.C., and was diagnosed with CF when I was 7 weeks old. My wife and I live in Sumter, S.C., where I serve as the student pastor at First Baptist Church Sumter. I love sports, running, and hanging out with friends and family.

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