“The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” (2 Timothy 4:17).
Recently, I discovered some very significant – though thank God, not life threatening – health challenges that I am required to deal with, which have had a significant and very final impact on many of the plans I previously had for my life and that of my family.
Though with hindsight my symptoms appear obvious indicators of my condition, they were ignored by so many doctors and specialists for so long, that they simply blended into who I was and became part of me – in every possible sense.
Because this diagnosis of mine came as quite a shock to those who know me well, in the days and weeks that followed this diagnosis, I often received phone calls and text messages from family and friends who were worried about me and wanting to check on me. This is lovely and very charitable of them, but also rather amusing, because thank God having an official medical diagnosis was a wonderful validation of my symptoms and very empowering – which is a very healthy thing from a mental health point of view! After all, it is a terrible delusion to start to believe that the physical discomfort that you are experiencing is coming from inside your mind rather than from the organs which are actually causing the problem. As one doctor said to me, “No, Sarah. The pain is not inside your head. It is in your abdomen!”
When one of my sisters called to check up on me, she laughingly joked that she was checking on me because it appeared that my body was failing me.
She has a point. After all… In a way… It is…
I have been reflecting on this fault of my body over the last few days and weeks. Perhaps I am getting older, or perhaps I was always like this and just never realised until it was too late. Whatever the reason, I have come to a realisation about this fault in my body. For this fault in my body is NO FAULT AT ALL.
After all, this life is fleeting, and this body of ours is designed to fail – sometimes slowly and surely, sometimes rapidly and unpredictably – but the result in this lifetime is always the same. Our body is designed to fail and we will all surely die one day…
And so, I wonder can we really call our illnesses, aging, aches, pains and sufferings a fault?
Saint Ignatius of Loyola said, “If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint.”
There is great comfort in such a thought – for each of us will suffer in this lifetime, and though others may not see that suffering, it is there – and GOD SEES ALL. And because God sees it, He can help us, which is why we are told, “The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” (2 Timothy 4:17).
The Catholic American Bishop Venerable Fulton J Sheen, who is considered the first television (and radio) evangelist said, “The closer a person approaches God the less worthy he feels. A painting under candlelight shows fewer defects than under the brilliance of the sun; so too the souls who are some distance from God feel more certain of their moral integrity than those who are very close to Him. In the presence of the Holiest of Creatures, the soul becomes self-accusing and broken-hearted with the weights of its defects. He who loves God is the most burdened with the sense of his own unworthiness.”
I consider it a blessing, that in these last few days and weeks, as I reflect on the faults of my body, they blur before my tears.
For I cry very often these days. But my tears are not for the faults of my body – for those are no fault at all. My tears are for the faults of my soul…
For those offend my poor infinitely gentle Beloved and how could one such as I ever make amends for the suffering that I cause to One such as He?
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.