Monday, July 23, 2012

Healing and Divine Mercy: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I've been working on this series for a long time. Since Easter, in fact. I thought I would save it, to give you something interesting to read while I am up during the night changing diapers and feeding a baby and only half-awake during the day, trying to make sure a few meals make it to the table and I don't set anything on fire. I will publish it in four parts.

This post is a continuation of my journey to be able to seek healing from my diabetes, in faith.

In my last post, I wrote about how asking for something specific and not getting the answer you were looking for, such as healing from diabetes, is kind of a blow. In spite of all the things I can positively affirm about God's power, love, and faithfulness, my first reaction to the disappointment is to blame God and call him the exact opposite of everything I used to affirm to be true about him. And of course, I just stopped asking to be healed.

But, as Elizabeth Ann Seton notes, it is madness to expect that suffering will never come my way. "As to sickness and death itself," she writes, "we know that they are the common attendants of human life. They are our certain portion at one period or other, and it would be madness to be unhappy because I am treated like the rest of human beings."

The Sunday after Easter, also known as the last day of the Easter Octave or the second Sunday of Easter, is also known to Catholics as "Divine Mercy Sunday." This year, on Divine Mercy Sunday, I was once again reminded of this uncomfortable truth: Jesus still wants us to pray for his mercy. He pleads for us to ask for his mercy. He says he is tortured by our failure to ask for his mercy.

Here I was, faced with a conundrum. Christ wants me to ask for his mercy, he wants me to seek healing while he offers it, while it may be found, before he returns in judgment. And I want to do what Christ asks me to do. And yet, I felt like and feared that I would ask and ask and ask and ask and never receive his mercy in the form of healing.

So what to do?

Now, I am finally in a position to state that being free from diabetes would be a good thing. I am finally in a position to state that my fear and disappointment with non-immediate healing is a problem with me, not God. But how to live in between? How to move past the fear and disappointment? How to not feel hurt by God when my experience is screaming at me, "he doesn't care, you are not good enough, and it's not going to happen"?

I could just deny it with my words, which is the first step. It's not true, God does care and you are good enough, whether it happens or not. But the disappointment lingers. How will it be resolved?

I received the answer to this deep conundrum just 6 days later, when I attended an academic lecture with my husband. Not specifically related to his subject matter, the lecturer made the following remark: "One of the really tragic things about the fall is that if Adam and Eve had persisted in faith for just a little longer, God would have given them what they wanted. They wanted to be 'like God,' and God intended to raise them to a heavenly glory even more perfect than their natural created state, following a brief time of faith and trust and obedience in the garden. But they failed the test, because they didn't want to wait."


"God would have given them what they wanted." Healing. "Following a brief time of faith and trust and obedience." My life here on earth. "They didn't want to wait." Because I am like a petulant child, and worried that God is holding out on me, and I don't really believe in the promises of heaven.

I just have to wait.

How often do I tell the Pious One that he has to wait to go to the park? That he has to wait until daddy comes home? That he has to wait until he is bigger to do "x"? That he has to wait until his brother is finished with that toy to play with it? You know what? I tell him that all the time. How many times do I tell Braveheart that he has to wait 30 seconds until we are done praying to eat his food? That he has to wait for me to come pick him up until I can wipe the chicken juice off my hands? That he has to wait until the stop light turns green for me to move the car again? That he has to wait until the radio announcer is done talking for the music to start? I tell him these things all. the. time. How many times does the Statesman cry and cry because, well, I don't know why he's crying, and I just need to get to the bathroom before my bladder explodes and then I can figure it out...?

So I am like a child after all. But fortunately, even my toddlers do listen to me. And they wait. "Become like little children," God says. And wait, even if you don't always understand.

Maybe I will be healed of diabetes tomorrow (in which case my health will once again be taken from me at death, anyway). Maybe I will be healed of diabetes when modern science discovers a reliable cure for diabetes (in which case my health will once again be taken from me at death, anyway). Maybe I will be healed of diabetes in a miraculous healing 30 years from now (in which case my health will once again be taken from me at death, anyway). Or maybe...I will simply have to wait. Until the resurrection of the body at the end of time. And then, my health will never be taken from me again. Ever.

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