Illness is something that affects everyone, but most don’t really understand. Christians are often asked, why would a loving God allow people to suffer so much with disease and illness? When you or someone you love is dealing with a difficult diagnosis, you may become angry with God and your faith may be tested. Where is God in all of this?
“When we think about sickness, it’s so hard but we have to move beyond the individual case to think about all of humanity, because really … we’re all sick. We’re all sick with sin every moment of our life here on earth and it is only through our union with the Lord that we are freed from this penalty,” said Fr. John Love, priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, chaplain at St. Mark’s University parish at UC-Santa Barbara, and wing chaplain in the Air National Guard.
Illness is a difficult topic to discuss and explain, and guest-host Patrick Conley said, “Even the richest of theological answers don’t provide a complete satisfaction or consolation.” But, he mused, “it’s always helpful to remember that Our Lord himself suffered as He walked the earth and He suffered very redemptively and in accord with the Father’s will so that we all could enjoy the promise of ultimate healing and salvation.”
Phyllis called The Inner Life® to share her frustration about her own sickness. “I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about six years ago, at the age of 42. And I’ve had a real hard time dealing with it, wondering: why me? And is there a purpose to it?” She asked, “How do I get over my anger with God?”
Fr. Love pulled from his ministry as a military chaplain and serving those in military hospitals with wounded soldiers. “Maybe they lose a leg or an arm or something and they’re angry with God. And I think that’s natural; it would be odd if you weren’t, Phyllis. Anger is passion, it’s something that comes out and there’s such a thing as righteous anger, but at a certain point I would argue that one has to move from anger to what in the military they call the ‘new normal’ and this understanding that I can’t change this right now, but I can move beyond the anger into more of a place where I have a mature acceptance of what’s going on in my life. I don’t like it, I don’t want it, I don’t wish it upon … my worst enemy, but here I am. This happened.”
“I can’t tell you when you will cross that bridge, but at some point I would say tat you’re going to cross the bridge from anger to peace. And that’s a prayer that you can make, that’s a petition: Dear God, help me to move away from this anger about what happened to me. I don’t understand it; I don’t know why you are asking this of me. I am weak, I’m sinful, but I want your help to get through this anger,” said Fr. Love. “In a sense, that’s the real work of the devil, isn’t it? If he can keep you angry and anxious all day long, you can miss the graces in your life.”