Should you serve your local community if your family member is sick?
If you are part of a local church or community, there are probably numerous opportunities to serve. Often during a Sunday morning worship service alone, you could potentially:
Play a musical instrument
Do a reading or announcement
Usher people in
Open up/lock up the building
Help in baby sit
Teach in Sunday school
Clean up the kitchen/building
… and that’s all within the space of about two hours! Throughout the week there are often many other situations in which you can fulfil the Biblical commandment to serve and love one another.
Yet it’s not that easy, is it? Those of us who have a family member with a chronic illness can find all the opportunities to serve somewhat daunting. There is so much need… and yet perhaps we find ourselves ill-suited to fill it.
Prayer. Healing. Chronic Illness.
These are tricky topics, and ones I’ve struggled with quite a bit. In these two posts you will find my thoughts… and why prayer has often seemed like a simple ‘wish’ when really it’s more like a magic wand.
If a wizard doesn’t have a wand, we begin to doubt whether he truly is a wizard. If he has one, and doesn’t use it… well that’s just silly! … Often my prayers for my Mum’s healing seem repetitive.
They exhaust me.
I don’t feel like dragging sickness into my prayer life… read more.
Christmas is coming up, and I want to thank you for following my blog. When you sign up you’ll receive 3 downloadable and printable cards suitable for someone with a chronic illness – and anyone in need of some love!
I find it quite difficult to respond to: ‘How are you?’
It doesn’t seem like an appropriate answer.
It seems a bit silly to even have to say this, but when a Loved One is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it can make us feel sad.
It sounds ridiculous. Of course when someone is sick it is going to make us sad. But I genuinely believe it’s not that simple. At least it wasn’t for me.
4 reasons we find it hard to be sad after a diagnosis
1. Sadness is unexpected
To be sad – and only sad – is quite rare.
Life is complex, and so we are often experience several emotions at a time, particularly in the wake of a chronic illness diagnosis.
Our grief is often tainted with anger or bitterness or frustration, or even exhaustion. As a result, when we find ourselves ‘simply’ sad, and ‘only’ grieving, it can feel a bit odd. It is an experience we are not prepared for, and don’t know how to cope with.
So what do we do (as Christians and/or as Watchers) with the parts of the Bible that promise immediate healing?
Why do passages in the Bible promise healing but not deliver?
First disclaimer: I’m not a trained theologian.
Second disclaimer: context is important, but for the sake of a read-able blog post I haven’t included the surrounding chapters of each of these verses.
Third disclaimer (this is the most important!): I can’t promise a miracle. But I can offer you company as you look through theses verses and puzzle over them. I can offer you my thoughts, and a chance to put aside your assumptions and your aching heart to read these passages anew.
Why should we pray for healing if our Loved One’s illness is chronic?
Prayer is not a choice
If a wizard doesn’t have a wand, we begin to doubt whether he truly is a wizard.
If he has one, and doesn’t use it… well that’s just silly!
Likewise, the Bible says if we are Christians, prayer for healing is not just an optional extra if we feel in the right mood (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:13). It’s part of who we are.
We want healing, plain and simple. And if we’re not asking God for it, I suspect it means we’re asking someone else.
Perhaps we have pinned our hopes on doctors and treatments (the gifts rather than the Giver) or simply ‘fate’ (what will be will be).
If the former, we’ve created idols; if the latter, we’ve lost sight of God’s bigness and sovereignty.
Prayer can sometimes feel like something of little consequence. A few muttered words, clenched fists, perhaps closed eyes. Yet I think, as Watchers, praying for healing is a unique way we can live out our faith.
It is faith in action and glorifies God as trustworthy and powerful.
In one sense our role in someone else’s chronic illness is quite small. We certainly can’t ‘redeem’ their suffering or even carry their burden for them! HOWEVER, I do believe that Watching someone going through a hard time and “being there” for them is the very best thing you can do.
Our role in someone else’s suffering is bigger than we think because:
1: The people we Watch are precious
There’s a line in the Jewish Talmud which states:
‘To save one Jewish life is the same as saving the world entire.’
That is an immense claim and it raises a lot of problematic questions (such as: does that mean everything is permissible if it saves one life? What if that person is a murderer? What does it actually mean to save a life?).
Rather than delving into the philosophy behind this quote, I want to focus on the fact that every life is infinitely important.
Each person is created by God, in the image of God, for a purpose and a reason.
God cares deeply about each and every life – and so should we.
2: The people we Watch are immortal
C. S. Lewis touches on this when he describes us as having “immortal souls” (The Weight of Glory).
We are creatures of eternity.
As a result our lives are important. Not only our lives after death, but our lives before it too.
Every second that we live on this earth is one of cosmic significance. Not because we are great but because we are greatly loved.
Our Loved Ones have immortal souls.
There are beautiful things on this earth that only last a short while. Sunsets die away and flowers whither. Yet God did not create us to be sunsets or withering flowers. He gave us eternal souls and in doing so demonstrated that in His eyes we are more important than all the beauties of nature.
Not only so, but He sacrificed Himself to have a relationship with the human race despite the fact that we are undeserving of such love.
3: The people we Watch are not accidents or mistakes.
It is this careful creation and painstaking redemption that sanctifies every prosaic moment on earth. Every smile, every phone call, every scrubbed kitchen floor has eternal consequences.
Our role as Watchers is important because God has given it to us.
The huge sacrifices of time and money are important – and so are the tiny, speechless moments. The visible burdens are significant and so are the unseen ones.
If God has said that washing the dishes is important, who are we to argue otherwise?
Will you embrace your role and see it as important?
While Watching is not an answer to the ‘Problem of Pain’ that doesn’t mean we’re not important. If a spoon won’t cut my toast, it doesn’t mean the spoon is useless. It simply means it was created for something else.
Watching is not an antidote to suffering, but it may be a balm.
We may not be able to solve their problems or even lessen their pain. Our endeavours to soothe may be useless and our attempts to help may prove futile. But standing by one person and loving them is enough. Living the life of a Watcher because we have no choice is enough.
It is enough because people matter. Every one of us is precious, immortal and part of God’s plan. As a result our role in someone else’s suffering – even when it seems insignificant – it actually huge.
// Do you believe your everyday life is important? Do you live like it is?
Don’t be shy. Join the conversation and comment below!
Perhaps you have been here:
A knock at the door.
It’s a friend, a neighbour. She has just popped over for a chat.
She holds a covered dish:
‘Cooked a bit extra and thought you could do with a home cooked meal’.
She asks how we are, how our Loved One is.
She complains for a while about her work, and how tired she is from the high tea she went to on the weekend. She has another date with friends in a few days but unfortunately it coincides with the birthday of a family member:
‘It’s always the way isn’t it? Everything at once, so frustrating.’
She shifts on the door step:
‘Ah well, no rush to return the dish – we’ll be away for a few weeks.
Going on a cruise. Just a small one. I’m a bit worried actually, I’m terrified I’m coming down with a cold. There’s nothing worse than a sniffly nose!
Anyway, got to rush, I have a hair dressers appointment this afternoon. All the best!’
You juggle the still-warm meal and close the door, the hot smell of cheese and silver foil clouding the air.
After the door is firmly shut and the neighbour out of sight, you give the wood a short, hard kick.