Last month I sat down to write 4 short meditations on illness and spirituality. (Ok, the truth was I was lying down most of the day, because of an exhausting lupus flare, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to place the laptop on my lap and start typing.) The flare stirred up questions that I didn’t want to answer, and while I’m feeling a little better now, I thought I would share what God taught me in those hard days. Here’s part 1.
It’s been 2 years and 4 months since she gave me the diagnosis I didn’t want to hear. I sat on the paper-clad table in my doctor’s office, sweaty palms clenched in my lap, waiting to hear my fate. The open-ended uncertainty of my disease unnerved me then, and it still unnerves me today. On the bad days, like today, aching joints and deep fatigue cling to me. I feel weak and slow, like I’m moving through water.
And it is in these low moments that the questions plague me. Questions not so different than the one that Jesus’ disciples asked him about the blind man,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Is this illness a spiritual battle? Is it my fault? One author I read believes we cause our own illness. Another believes we can heal ourselves. Opinions blow in from every direction. I look to God’s word for clarity and I find Jesus’ words:
“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (Jn. 9)
Most days I can’t see past the end of my nose, but Jesus’ words remind me that It’s not about me. Or at least it’s not only about me. I am not an autonomous creature looking to find my best life now. I live my life under God’s authority and in close connection with other people. God may have purposes for my life that extend beyond me.