Hadassah is a name that is very close to my heart. It’s also the Hebrew version of the name of the Biblical character Esther, heroine of the eponymous book. That lady with two names has a lot to teach us about life with MS.
Back in the 5th century BC, Hadassah/Esther lived in captivity in Persia along with most of the Jewish people of the time. That’s already one big strike against her.
Some time during the Persian king’s rule, his queen had the audacity to disobey her husband. (One tradition has it that he wanted her to perform an impromptu strip show at a drunken party he was having with a large mob of male friends.) She was removed from office–whatever that means; it certainly wasn’t good for her health–for her insubordination. (Thank God times have changed… mostly.)
It’s pretty obvious it wasn’t an easy time to be a woman back then. In case you needed more evidence: The king decided to hold an “audition” for the next queen, kind of a “Miss Persia” contest, but presumably a lot more intrusive. Esther, evidently a very attractive young lady, was paraded before the king along with every other cute babe in the kingdom, like so many slabs of meat. Not the most esteem-building situation. Things aren’t looking any better for our friend.
In the end, she wins the dubious prize of being crowned the new queen, forced to marry (etc.) this misogynistic, egomaniacal, pagan king. (Some things never change.)
What the heck does all this have to do with MS? Bear with me, please.
The point is, people with MS are also in a tough spot. We can face it with one of two questions:
- Why me?
- What now?
I’ve already addressed this conundrum here, among other places. The former question is a waste of time and energy, something people with MS have precious little of already.
In Esther’s case, she was put in that uncomfortable (to put it euphemistically) position for the purpose of saving her race. You can read the full story to get the details (highly recommended). Suffice it to say, if she’d never faced those difficulties, the entire Jewish population of Persia would have been wiped out, an early version of the holocaust, if you will. She didn’t ask “why me?”, she asked “what now?” The answer came from her cousin, guardian, and living conscience, Mordecai, who uttered the now famous words:
“…who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Who knows why I have MS? I might never know, but I’m doing what I can to fight it and to support others in the same battle.
One friend of mine had to move to assisted living. He could cry in his pillow or moan and groan. Instead, he’s using his strengths to advocate for others in the facility who are less able to do so.
Others I know serve on local accessibility committees, write newspaper articles about disability issues, create products to assist the disabled, write humorous blogs to lift the spirits of people with MS, and drive people who have no other means of transportation.
Those good people could hole themselves up at home, watching TV (which merely accelerates the deterioration of their brains) and feeling sorry for themselves. Instead, they’ve signed up for the Hadassah Plan. It dovetails nicely with the philosophy once described by St. Paul in a letter to his friends in the ancient city of Corinth, when he tells them about…
…the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Did you catch it? Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been given these adversities for the sole purpose of helping others. And while it’s hard to think of it this way, that makes the burden a grace.
Hadassah got it. One person suffered so that thousands could be saved. How many lives can I touch?
Something to think about.