I grew up a Roman Catholic. My faith was always strong and reinforced as I attended a Catholic school for the majority of my school career. It wasn’t until my path changed drastically that I really began to see the hope and comfort that comes with believing in the Lord.
In attempts to bring comfort to unfortunate or unexplained circumstances, people often justify these things with the saying that God’s work always has a purpose, or that everything happens for a reason. However, when we look at the other side of the coin, how can we justify that Someone who is filled with such greatness can allow such profound suffering to occur each and every day? Some may beg to differ, and even I challenge myself regarding this some days, but I believe that there is a purpose for the hardships we encounter in our lives. They may not always make sense, but they do exist.
I’ll start off with the most cliché (yet incredibly valid) response: how can we learn to celebrate victories, without enduring the hardship that comes before it? If I did not endure days of pain, I would not learn to appreciate the days where I encounter relief. If I did not feel exhaustion to the core, I wouldn’t learn to make the most of the days that I have the energy to function. If I never found myself at rock bottom, I wouldn’t have the courage to look up and find solace in the promises of heaven. I don’t think I would appreciate my progress if I didn’t have to fight with everything in me to get there.
By no means am I saying that my faith in God alone is enough to get me through each and every day, because truthfully it isn’t. Do I believe that God is responsible for all of my ailments? No, not in the slightest. But I do believe that He will see me through. There are many days that I cry, and scream, and get angry at God because I cannot clearly see the path that He leads me through. It has encouraged me to seek out His blessings, no matter how minuscule they may seem. Sometimes finding those blessings is easy, especially in the little things, but there is a big hurdle that I often find blinding me and preventing me from finding any positive aspect to my situation.
I have spent many hours at the mercy of my illnesses and conditions and prayed relentlessly to find some sort of silver lining in all of the struggles I encounter, both mental and physical. I have pondered the notion of finding some sort of solace in these vicious conditions and it wasn’t until recently that I was able to find the blessing in being ill. I’ve found that the questions I put to God are answered in subtle, yet kind ways.
There was one night where I was so angry. I’d been in excruciating pain the entire day before and I was so beyond exhausted; I couldn’t get a moment of relief in to be able to sleep. It was a day that had been filled with disappointing appointments, stressful encounters, profound loss – all around just a bad day. I wondered how God could stand back and let me end my day feeling so hopeless and alone. But I realized, His gift to me wasn’t ending the day on a positive note but in the promise that tomorrow will be a new day; a new day filled with new opportunities and new possibilities, a day to discover more and make further progress. Each new day we are blessed with us a fresh start and after a bad day I can’t think of anything more redeeming than an opportunity to seek out grace in the good and the hard.
Again, on a day where I was completely drained of every ounce of energy, bombarded by bad news, in excruciating pain and feeling lost in the system, I found myself shaking my fist at the Lord. How can He expect me to make any progress in the state that I’m in? How can I be destined for greatness when I’m so incapacitated by these illnesses? Again, the realization came that there is a light in all of this. Some may say that having a chronic illness is as bad as it can get…a life that is not promised without illness. But, you know what the beauty in all of this is? The beauty is that as we grow, so do our chronic illnesses and the things that we struggle with today may become tomorrow’s normal. Realistically: that is unfair. No one should be confined to a body that fails them day in and day out, and no one should settle for a life in pain, but overtime that pain becomes bearable. I grew up doing things and feeling things that I assumed were normal, I knew nothing else but the symptoms that we now associate with my conditions. That ignorance is pure bliss in situations such as this and, realistically, that normalcy is all I can ask for.
At the end of the day the realization is this: I may be weak, but my God is strong. I lack many things, but I have Him. Though I am tired, I know He will never grow tired of loving me. And that…well that’s enough for me to get through the most difficult of days and the most beautiful.