I often ponder as I look out my window from this bed I am confined to. I’m not sure if I’ll walk again. I hope to. This ankle ulcer keeps rearing it’s ugly head when I put any amount of weight on my foot. In my head, I’m filled with hope, but that hope gets shattered each time I attempt to walk any little bit. I feel I still have so much to do with my life. What that is I do not know. It will show itself through time. From my experience, the heart/mind soul/spirit desires one thing while the physical body seems to want something completely different. Aging seems to be unforgiving and relentless. I have learned to believe our physical body is in conflict with our spirit/soul because our spirit is infinite while our body is finite. In my mind, I still feel young, but I attempt to put my body into action but it won’t move from this bed. It’s going to take an act of God to get these legs in shape again. My body/spirit interaction strives for reconciliation, and without the help of God’s grace this reconciliation will not take place no matter how hard I try on my own.
“O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water”. Psalm 63
Why is it some of us seem to be chosen to be disabled, deformed, homebound, or bedridden? One hundred years ago, here in America, not all but many parents placed their disabled child in a “home” or placed them in the cellar or attic of their own home. This is what Martin Luther wrote about a physically disabled child,
“If I were the Prince, I should take this child to the Moldau River which flows near Dessau and drown him.’ The advice was refused. Luther then suggested: ‘Well then, the Christians shall order the Lord’s prayer to be said in church and pray that the dear Lord take the Devil away.’ This was done daily and the ‘changeling’ died in the following year.” Cited in Ted Harrison, Disability Rights and Wrongs (Lion Publishing, Oxford, 1995), p.57.
Some clergy still believe this about the disabled. It’s terrible to experience. However,
this treatment does not negate the fact that in God’s eyes, we’ve still been chosen by Him to be the heart of His Church. Thank God, here in America, society has made positive strides toward the disabled, especially with the passing of the Disability Act in 1995. However, this mission I write about comes from the spiritual side of our humanity. We Hermits of the Holy Cross believe we have been called by God to pray and offer our sufferings to God for all our sisters and our brothers around our world. We are all members of one human family. We all struggle in some way, yet we still believe God draws us to minister in this way through prayer and suffering. St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians:
“I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, the Church.” Colossians 1:24
“I want all those who find themselves deep in suffering, that God has called us to be spiritual leaders in the work of salvation, as we become ourselves, perfect through suffering.” Hebrews
I believe there is a reason God uses suffering to bring us to perfection. Suffering is the anthesis of Heavenly wholeness and perfection. Because of our human nature we all hate suffering. Most of us, especially myself, will do everything possible to avoid it and we should do our best to relieve suffering. At the beginning, in Genesis, we were never meant to suffer. We can’t forget this truth. But we also must accept the fact that humanity did fall out of grace with God by attempting to be gods on our own terms. With this pride the human family became broken. Many don’t want to accept this truth and have been running from the suffering since. We must not lose hope however, for God has indeed brought us back into relationship with Himself through the sufferings of Christ Jesus upon the Cross. He has brought the grace of healing and wholeness to each of our eternal souls. Through His Son, He has opened the gate to eternal life.
For we are now
“strangers and aliens no longer. No, you are fellow citizens of the Saints and members of the household of God.” “in Him you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” Ephesians: 2
So, my sisters and brothers who are disabled, or homebound, or just struggling with suffering in some way, let us pray for the gift of hope for
‘The sufferings of this present age are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
Yours and my suffering does indeed have meaning. You may be struggling with trying to accept this truth, but we have been called to have faith in Christ Jesus. Rest assured though, for even Christ’s closest Apostles struggled with their faith in Christ. We need only to look at Peter and Thomas to see the struggle. St. Padre Pío used to say often, “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry” This has helped me through many a darkened hour.
What God calls each of us to do is to open our hearts, even just a little bit, to let the Holy Spirit come into our hearts and into our lives. We pray God will bring us healing and wholeness, if not in a physical way, we seek healing in our heart and soul too, that we may embrace the suffering that God has called us to endure for His glory. That we may offer our sufferings as a gift to God for the healing and wholeness of our world.
If you are physically disabled, follow the path of our Lord Jesus Christ and believe God is calling you to this ministry of prayer and the offering of your sufferings as a Hermit of the Holy Cross feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May our loving and merciful God fill your heart with grace and have a most blessed week. Peace and Goodness,
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Hermits of the Holy Cross
Please pray for us.