A friend (in real life) and fellow rare disease mom wrote a blog post yesterday titled "Faith to Not be Healed". You can read her blog entry here. It was such a timely blog post about her reaction to a clip she'd heard and her daughter's recent diagnosis. This week, I have been asking God why He has chosen to allow our family to deal with three rare diseases (Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, Mitochondrial Disease and Eosinophilic Esophagitis) and asked Him why He would give my boys these diseases and also allow some of the treatments not to work for them. We found out Monday that my son's scope looks to be unchanged from his previous two. Meaning the new medication he started back in December isn't working.
So, reading Kathy's post really hit home today. Do we have the faith to not be healed? We know that God doesn't heal everyone. Even when Jesus walked this earth, He did not heal everyone, so why would we expect everyone to be healed now? So often over the years, people have said to us, "If you have faith, they will be healed," and we even had one lady say, "You don't need to bring them to the doctor, it is God's will that they be healed." It's amazing what people say.
How do we react when it just isn't God's will that we or our children are healed? I believe God uses healing just as much as He uses suffering in the absence of His healing. Do we see God suffering? This week being Holy Week, I have been meditating on the Lord's Passion. A lot.
We've been dealing with rare, chronic illnesses for almost twenty years. While we pray for healing daily, we are confronted with reality when tests reveal that healing hasn't taken place. Or has it? I think healing comes in many forms. Maybe God has chosen to heal us spiritually instead of healing our children (or us) physically. I think over the course of twenty years, God HAS healed us spiritually. His grace gets us through the rough times and the crazy illnesses that pop up due to the rare diseases my children battle daily. God uses our suffering to encourage others. Paul says the following:
2 Cor 1:5-7- "For as Christ's sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement."
Sometimes, I can easily accept God's will. Other times, I am tired, cranky and fight acceptance. I'm human! Prayer helps, but I can't say that I always accept His will, if I am being honest with myself. I understand redemptive suffering and scripture is replete with examples of suffering with Christ and accepting our sufferings patiently. 1 Peter 4:13 reminds us, "But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ; so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly."
It's just not always easy to rejoice in our sufferings, is it? My middle son was hospitalized the week before Christmas last year because his uvula was nicked during a routine upper GI scope and it became infected. Who has ever heard of an infected uvula? I'm here to tell you that it happens. It was difficult to say, "Wow, Jesus, I'm sure glad you allowed this odd infection to set in after we've already spent the week at the hospital, I'm going to rejoice in this." It doesn't come naturally for anyone. Many a saint has worked a lifetime to gain acceptance of his suffering. While I hope to one day be counted among the saints in heaven, I've got a long way to go.
God also gives us the grace to laugh at some of these odd trials we manage to overcome with His help. In my opinion, laughter IS grace.
Name the appendage and my people have had an infection on it. I could do a stand up comedy routine just on the unusual and rare infections. If I had a penny for every time I'd heard, "We've never seen anything like this." Sometimes, people who haven't faced the medical trials that we have faced look in horror because we are laughing. We can laugh or cry. We choose to laugh. With the help of God's grace, of course. Sometimes we can't even begin to laugh until we cried.
It's Holy Thursday and I'm doing what I've done many a Holy Week in the past.....waiting on the final biopsy reports and test results. Slowly, we are accepting that the scope on Monday doesn't look any better than the previous scopes in December and October. It's difficult to accept that medications don't knock the disease out. The biopsy results will tells us if the medications are working AT ALL. We pray for healing, we pray for a cure and we keep working at accepting God's will in all of this. We pray for the grace to patiently accept the suffering we encountered for the grace to be able to unite our sufferings to His.
Tomorrow is Good Friday and I am always reminded that every Good Friday brings an Easter Sunday, a Resurrection Sunday. This week, as I have pondered Christ's passion, I've also been reminded of what Paul says in 1 Colossians 1:24, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the church."
Somewhere in all of this, we find the faith to not be healed. God is good.