When we pray for all those people whose names are on the sick list at church, what are we asking for? Usually, I guess, we are asking God to heal them. Sometimes we ask God to give them the grace to bear the load patiently and even less often we might ask God to help them make a good death. But what we really want is for them all to be well again.
I go through what feels like a wrestling match over my health on far too regular a basis. Going on holiday usually triggers a major wrestling in prayer event. For some reason it wasn’t as intense this year – not so much guilt – but there was still plenty of wrestling with angels (who are all black belts in prayer).
Going on holiday is usually the worst time because it brings back so many memories of when I was well. All that walking and running around on the beach with the children. I remember being able to really pack a lot into a day and not having to face a crash a couple of days later. Then, instead of being grateful that I am on holiday, I get worried about what I can’t do any more, and start being irritating by apologising for what I can’t do.
Then I nag God for a cure again. I know the answer is “no” so I hedge a bit and ask for a full remission, just for the holiday. Then I just say I’ll go with it and offer it up and then I feel guilty for being ill and not praying hard enough to be cured and the cycle begins again. It can be exhausting…for eveyone.
My husband who is way more sensible about all this, has simply asked that as God is allowing me to get worse, that He helps us all adjust and cope with each stage. Simple. He explained this to me as he cheefully shoved my wheelchair up hill.
During my wrestle with angels this holiday, it occurred to me that I was being a bit hypocritical. I spend a lot of time writing about family life and how Christian families in particular should be taking care of one another and so on. I sing the praises of those families who do take care of one another and make sacrifices for the sick, elderly or very young in their midst. I read saints stories and see how for many of them (Catherine Laboure springs to mind) caring for sick family members was part of the process to their sainthood.
But you see whenever I wrote or read about this sort of thing I had it in mind that I would be the one doing the caring. I would cook, clean, visit and tick the works of mercy boxes. But instead I have to do something way harder than that – I have to allow others to care for me. Ouch! As this disease progresses I face needing more help, and having to accept this patiently.
Another thought came to me while I was wrestling with the angel on this. When I look at how the disease progresses I am usually horrified and frankly, scared silly. And yet as it does process I cope with each new event fine. I never for a moment thought I would be able to handle having seizures. I sure as heck hated having them, but I’m no longer terrified at the thought that this will probably happen again.
So God is listening to my husband! 🙂
Of course, when I really look, I see that the saints weren’t just caring people, they were able to be cared for graciously when they were ill. They put up with being bed bound, with hospital admissions and often with hideous forms of disease, which thankfully, we see a lot less of these days. They were always grateful somehow, even in the midst of sickness and hopeless medical interventions. They are our role models. So it’s time I stopped wrestling with angels and said thank you.