Sunday morning

Some time ago a friend of mine said that she didn’t see how anyone could reconcile a belief in a loving creator-god on days when everything piles up: the conjunction of a bad head cold, the start of a period, past injuries flaring up. Surely God, too, would end up in tears at the top of a flight of stairs, if we are made in His image.

I didn’t reply at the time; what I had to say were not words of consolation. When my arthritis is flaring up and I have a migraine and a sinus infection, and I still have to go about life doing things like making meals and eating them, going into town to work, all the while in pain, I have also taken a swipe at God. On days like today, when I can’t walk enough to make it into church or when my hands hurt too much to do my Lenten devotion, there isn’t much stopping me from cheekily saying, “You know, it’s not my fault I hurt.”

What I would have said is, “Our pain is the result of a fallen world. The universe is broken, and we are broken, too.” If I were more evangelistic, I would then go on to say that we hope for the renewal of all things in eternity. I have written here before about that future hope. But that’s just it: it’s in the future. Not only a new body, but a new name, a new reality; eternity is the impossible future, beyond whatever human understanding I have now. It doesn’t remove the pain right now, doesn’t alleviate it, doesn’t explain anything.

I remember how the story of Job was always the answer to suffering for no apparent reason. Unknown to Job, he was the field of contest between God and Satan. Job had the gall to demand explanation from God Himself, and God did not explain. His answer was, essentially, “Am I not God?” Job’s possessions and health were then restored—in this life, not the next. His suffering was temporary; what then for us who suffer chronically? It is not a comforting book.

Like the man born blind the apostles accused of being punished for his or his parents’ sin, my body is not broken because of anything I did. Perhaps I can be self-absorbed enough to say that my arthritis is an opportunity for God’s glory. It certainly can be, but I hold no delusions that I will be healed instantly—though I would sing and dance if that were to happen. Instead, the glory comes day by day. It is easy to turn to anger and despair; it is much harder to grin and bear it and confide in an invisible being that you don’t necessarily approve of how He’s doing things. I am a symptom of a broken world, and I am broken too. God is God, and I am not. Hollow words sometimes, even to my ears, but no less True.

2 thoughts on “Sunday morning

  1. Anna says:

    Chera, wow, thanks for sharing this… and I’ve definitely been right there (well, without the arthritis obviously, but you know my laundry list of issues :-P) where I know that God can heal me, but don’t know if he will, and have to go back to the world is broken, God is God, but dammit, I sure wish he’d pull out some cool God action now and do something about how miserable I am…

    I don’t know if I’ve told you how much I admire your perseverance in the face of your ongoing issues with arthritis, how you haven’t let it stop you from chasing your dreams, even to moving to a different country on your own to do what you’ve wanted to do and pursuing your degree.

    I know these words are a small offering in the face of the level of pain you’re facing (tho I hope the flare up had died down by now), but I do think that God’s glory is revealed, even in this post, in the midst of your suffering, how you refuse, along with Job, to “curse God and die” so to speak, to trust in the midst of dealing with a level of pain on a day to day level that most of us will never experience and can’t really understand functioning in the midst of.

    Anyway, I’ll get off here now, lest I rival the length of your post, but I overslept this morning and my brain is revolving strangely as a result šŸ˜›


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