The blog is called “Limping in the Light”, so I guess it’s time to attack that issue head on. I’m limping (when I’m not stumbling) in the light of God’s love and presence. How then do I reconcile chronic illness with an omnipotent, loving God? As someone I know (a missionary, even) once said in the face of suffering, “Either God isn’t all powerful or He isn’t all good.”
This is not a new question. It’s safe to say it’s a spin on the number one objection to a belief in any benign supreme being. If God is real and good, why is there so much suffering in the world? Nor do I labor under the delusion that what I’m “suffering” in any way compares to what many go through every day in different parts of the world.
Young girls are sold into sex slavery. Small children are forced to fight in wars. People are tortured for their faith. Families dig through garbage heaps for a scrap to eat. That is suffering. Those of us in Western society live better than 99% of people throughout history. The truth is that I have more to be thankful for than to complain about (q.v.). I’ve been to Haiti, so I’ve looked into the eyes of true suffering.
Relative to full health and current circumstances in America, however, those of us with MS have unique and real issues to deal with. How can I reconcile that with a God who supposedly loves me? I don’t pretend to have absolute answers. Rather, I am convinced of a few things.
First, Jesus suffered far more for my benefit than I (hopefully) will ever be called upon to endure. His is the perfect and ultimate demonstration of sacrificial love.
Second, I am surrounded by good things. They completely obscure the negatives.
Finally, suffering can have a purpose. In my life it does. Back in the first century, Saint Paul wrote the following to his friends at the church in Corinth:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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 have received from God.
Did you catch it? The troubles we are given have the result of us being able to comfort others going through similar things. That is a ministry God has given me. God has indeed comforted me. Now I have been granted the privilege of reaching out to and comforting others with MS.
Not coincidentally, helping others is a great way to deal with the trials of MS. Any counselor will tell you as much. It takes our minds off our own situation and strengthens us emotionally. In the words of the late great Billy Preston, the fifth Beatle, “That’s the way God planned it.”
This little discourse by no means explains away all suffering, but it’s more than enough for me and my situation.