When do you say ‘uncle’ when dealing with chronic illness and pain?
Does your faith and chronic illness define you?
It has been a little while since I’ve written a post, and that’s not because nothing was happening in our life. Sometimes a break is needed to collect one’s thoughts as they move through events. There have been a number of life-altering events the past while in our family that have both altered our future and hardened our resolve to continue our journey with even more intention.
Within the past week we’ve received news that we didn’t really want to hear but were somewhat prepared for regarding my wife’s health. We’ve been on a journey the past year to pin-point the cause of an excruciating pain in her abdomen. Through almost a full year of invasive medical therapy, nothing has been resolved. In the process, over the past year other issues came to light that we knew we had to look into. The past week, after a cat-scans, x-rays and MRIs, we’ve discovered that we have a few potential answers to some pain. So, on top of her already painful life with lupus, fibromylagia, chronic migraines and other things, we now have a few more things to deal with.
The scoop is this:my dear wife has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the spine, has been diagnosed with bulging discs in her lower back and her heart problem, which we’ve already had two surgeries for and thought we were done with, has reared its ugly head once again.
In my household, we’ve had to deal with many things that would simply be too overwhelming to list. I do not say his to garner any pity, but rather just to prove a point. It is only by the strength of God that we can meet these challenges head on. I know I have some non-believing friends who will be reading this and will say they don’t need God and that He is only a crutch for weak people. To these dear friends, I give the following short story:
A few years back I was being interviewed on a local radio station – CKNW. They’ heard about my website – CureMyWife.com – and that I was trying to use the internet to raise money for the care of my wife. I’d been interviewed for about an hour when the host of the show asked if I would be interested in taking some calls. I responded that I would love to, so she opened up the lines for callers to call in. The first caller to call in identified himself as a philosophy student from Simon Fraser University. He was initially polite and made the comment that I sounded like I could be a Christian with the way I was answering some of the hosts questions. I confirmed his suspicions and then he went on the attack and said, “Many people who believe in God and think that He exists really only use Him as a crutch. What do you have to say about that?”
My response to the caller was this – when one breaks his leg, he expects to have a cast put on and then handed a set of crutches to be able to get around. We wouldn’t expect the person with a broken leg to be able to get up and walk around as if nothing had happened, would we? If we expected this, the leg probably wouldn’t heal as fast or perhaps not even heal properly. In the same way, those who are dealing with difficult situations can use God as something to lean on, a crutch if you will, until we feel we can walk on our own and are healed.
I knew the philosophy student was looking to pick a fight with a Christian, and my response to his question shut him up pretty quickly and he hung up. I knew that his intention was to pick as many holes into my response as possible because, in all honesty, that’s what people who don’t understand what Jesus is about do. My response to him was out of love for him and he wasn’t able to process that.
As Christians, during difficult times we sometimes feel that God has abandoned us and may have gone on vacation. I understand He likes the Bahamas this time of year. The reality is that He hasn’t left us, but He’s allowing us to learn about ourselves. It’s much like the production of gold from ore – it needs to be stuck in the fire, melted down and purified. Gold from ore can’t be produced simply by looking at it. I’ve tried, it doesn’t work (insert short video clip of Sheldon Cooper trying to blow up Howard Wolowitz’s head using his mind…)
Our purpose and life here on earth isn’t simply just to consume everything to the point of extinction and create as much greenhouse gas as possible.It seems to me to be a very selfish existence and way of living. I would also suggest that there are some that produce more than their fair share of greenhouse gas than others (refer to every husband under the covers at night…). Our purpose is far greater than that and the journey is a fascinating one to me.
So, when does one say “uncle” when dealing with so much pain and chronic illness? I would humbly suggest … never. God gives us the strength to take each day as it comes. I don’t worry about tomorrow, because God blessed me with today first. Life is a fantastic journey and, like all journeys, we can only take one step – or one day – at a time.