When you have a chronic illness, and associated expenses and unexpected health upsets, it can be hard to figure out how to give to those who are less fortunate (and, yes, although it might be hard to imagine, there are many people who are less fortunate than even the sickest among us!). There might not be enough money in the household budget for meds, copays, and other expenses, and it might be impossible to give time and effort on an ongoing, consistent, regular basis, especially in our church communities. Yet, the pressure is there. And sometimes, I have heard of sad stories of people who are chronically ill being challenged by others that “they can give a little more” or “if they really cared, they’d give more money/time/effort.” I’ve personally encountered negative comments when I respond, “No, I cannot donate blood,” to questions/urgings to participate in blood donation drives, as if I’m making an excuse rather than being truly unable!
Oh, my, where do I begin?…
Each of us does, I believe, have certain gifts from God that are meant to be used. These include talents and treasure, time and effort. These gifts do not abandon us when we are diagnosed with a chronic illness, however how we use them (or are able to use them) might change drastically and seemingly with regularity as our health challenges wax, wane, and carry on.
One of the things I’ve found most helpful with my particular situation is to wake each day commiting to doing one thing to help someone else. Whether that “thing” is as simple as to smile on someone who looks downcast or collect unused possessions and give them for charity, I’ve found there is always something I can give and that nothing we give is too small (much to the contrary of those who would insist otherwise).
It is within each of us to discern whether we are avoiding the issue of giving and hiding behind our health conditions or truly intent on finding that “one thing” each day. It is within each of us, too, to figure out how to keep body and soul together, taking stock of our resources and using them wisely.
Yes, how we give is a very personal thing. God knows our hearts. And if we encounter those who would criticize us, well, the one thing we can do? Pray for them, too.