“I don’t need anyone to help me with my illness. I don’t need other people, and I don’t need God. I can do it all by myself.”
The woman speaking had come to one of my booksignings. She sat at the back of the group, arms folded, legs crossed. She seemed aloof, but at the same time, I sensed that she wanted something, or wanted me to say something.
“Do you really think you can handle everything by yourself?” I asked.
It was sad to hear this. My Catholic, Christan faith is what gets me through my days and nights of serious illness and pain. Nurturing my soul through scripture, prayer, uplifting music and fellowship strengthens the spirit I need to bear the pain, meet the challenges, and reach out to others who are also hurting. I couldn’t imagine walking this road without God, and I couldn’t imagine doing it without the wonderful friends, family members, doctors, and others who help all along the way.
Was it possible to do it alone?
“Do you have doctors?” I asked.
“Do you have friends? Neighbors? Family members you’re close to?”
She paused. Then she said, “Yes. But I don’t need them.”
“Then, why do you have them in your life?” I asked. “Why don’t you do without them?”
“Do you have God?”
“Are any of the people in your life believers in God? People of faith? If so, you do have God in your life, and you do have spirituality. Their spirituality.” I continued, “And, besides people you know, there are many people you don’t know who help you each day. The people who deliver mail, clean the streets, fill your prescriptions…there are a lot of people in each of our lives we couldn’t do without.”
Others in the group joined in, too. The discussion was lively, warm, even encouraging. And, the woman stayed throughout, perhaps taking away a bit of food for thought and definitely continuing in our prayers going forward.
The gist of what I hope has stayed with the booksigning visitor is that none of us faces illness completely alone. It might seem that way, at times. There will always be people who do not understand what we’re going through, or who cut off ties or relationships because they cannot tolerate someone being sick or in constant pain. But, that is what makes walking with God while living with physical and health challenges so wonderful: People of faith are with us throughout, and God never abandons us.
All over the world, right now, there are people praying for each of us, complete strangers. There are researchers using their God-given creativity and intellect to find better treatments and, possibly, a cure for our illnesses. There are patient advocacy groups ready when you call, and there are long-toiling medical technicians, orderlies, nurses, pharmacists, therapists and doctors who care, too.
Then, too, consider God. At any moment of the day or night, the Lord is waiting for you to talk to him, listen to him, feel his compassion.
Yes, there are many people who care about you and me. And God cares, too, and is with you and me. I hope that you, as I do, can draw upon this knowledge to find strength and comfort for now and all tomorrows.
Blessings for the day,