My Stepfather, Karl, was a good and kind man. He and my mother had five good years together before he began to show psychiatric symptoms. After several years of misdiagnoses and other foolishness from the medical profession, we learned that he had multi-infarct dementia (which James's dad has now).
During that time, I learned that "Why?" is the devil's question. "Why" makes us focus on the injustice and unfairness of the situation; and focussing on unfairness only leads to spinning our wheels. We can't control the "Why."
We can control the "What" and "How:"
- How do I treat the person who hurts?
- What is my role in dealing with this crisis?
- How do I take care of myself so that I don't lose my marbles due to stress?
I am grateful to Pope John Paul II for allowing the world to see his weakness in his last years. He reminded us that we are all frail in some way, yet God still "loves us with an everlasting love." John Paul was dignified even when he drooled. He would not let the world pretend that decline and death don't happen.
We in the industrialized world get uncomfy when we look at weakness. We have removed ourselves as much as possible from a very real and natural part of life; and so it hits us harder when we can't hide from it anymore.
When I first developed fibromyalgia, I didn't know why I hurt and why I was too tired to move. Sometimes all I could pray was, "God; you say you're glorified in weakness. I am weak, so you be glorified in it."
How do we glorify God in these circumstances?
- We ask for God's grace and for the discernment to recognize grace when
Mother has lived 18 months (and counting) longer than anyone expected. She has her anxious moments, and nobody can pretend this is easy. Nevertheless she has received more peace in the last 18 months than I have seen before. I have seen God answer specific prayer, specific evidence of grace.
- We look for victories. With 3 kids who have Aspergers Syndrome, it's easy to focus on what they can't do. Often we miss the progress or the victory until somebody points it out.
The victories are the small rewards that tell you "You're doing something right." "You've grown in this area." "Your kid will make it, and he'll be stronger because he has worked harder."
When my eldest was three, he was playing with words and sounds. He came up with the phrase "Thank you thinking." For me, the phrase reminds me "Look for evidence of God's love even in a mess."
The greatest source of peace: "We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in times of need." Hebrews 4:15-16
Jesus didn't spring from God's head full grown and armored. He was God in a baby's body, needing his diapers changed. He was the weird kid on the block--"Can you believe that goody-goody Jesus bar Joseph? He never sins." He lost his earthly father some time before he began his ministry, and as eldest son he was chief care-giver and provider during Joseph's last days. He suffered ghastly pain and humiliation on the cross.
God knows our deepest need not because he is God Almighty and knows everything anyway (though He does). "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows"--borne our sins on the cross, and borne the same trials we face daily. He's been there, done that, got scars.