A homily transformed Rachel Watkins' thoughts about God's love as she struggled with chronic illness.
How long have you been ill? Has your chronic illness lasted longer than the 12 years of the woman of Scripture healed by the mere hem of Jesus’ tunic?
I’m moving into the 32nd year of my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and while fatigue is a real symptom of my diagnosis, I have found battling my prayer fatigue takes just as much out of me.
We all know this prayer fatigue - we pray and pray and pray to be healed. What we are praying for is a good thing, it’s not as if we’re asking for a pony or even a winning lottery ticket but a healing.
We may even face the criticism of others who tell us our prayer for healing isn’t being answered because of a lack of faith, a reliance on the wrong prayers or some other inaccurate view of how God works. In any case, we can weary of praying for the same thing day after day. Me? I was just so tired of being sick and tired of asking to be healed.
To add to my health struggles, I was having deep spiritual struggles. I thought God didn’t love me enough to give me a "yes." Over the years, I managed to turn the lack of a yes from God into a harsh, snarky "No, I won’t heal you! And, by the way, I don’t love you either."
Then I heard a homily that transformed my attitude and my prayers. The homily was particularly poignant in that the deacon giving it knew about the difficulties of MS, as his own wife had been battling it for decades with symptoms much graver than mine.
He wanted to remind us that, of course, God does say "yes" to us, He may also ask us to wait, but His other answer is not a harsh "no" but rather an optimistic "I’ve got a better plan!" A better plan?! How profound it was to hear it put that way. God wasn’t ignoring me, and my lack of healing wasn’t a punishment or a failure of my faith; it just wasn’t a part of God’s best plan for me. The rest of the Mass was a blur as I meditated on that truth. God does have a plan for me and His plan is always perfect; no matter what it looks like.
After all, I will be healed -- eventually. My MS healing might be on the list of miracles God has planned for my life or I may have to wait until heaven; my true home. Until then, I no longer have to view my lack of healing as a painful ‘no’. Every day my MS is still here, I can wait upon the Lord, reframing my attitude to see everything as a part of God’s best plan for me.
So, what do I do as I’m waiting? Well, the life of a faithful Catholic with a chronic illness shouldn’t be any different than anyone else’s. We all need to create a healthy, active prayer life with the sacraments and Scriptures as well as a healthy, active daily life fulfilling the duties based on our state in life to the best of our abilities. The promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you…plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope,” is for all of us -- disabled or not.
Copyright 2020 Rachel Watkins
Image: Pexels (2015)
About the Author
Wife of Matt for 36 years and mom to 11, Rachel is the creator/developer of The Little Flowers Girls' Club. She is a weekly contributor to Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak's radio program, More2Life on EWTN radio. She has also been a homeschooler for over 25 years and has dealt with multiple sclerosis as a chronic illness for a bit longer.