By Suzanne Stewart
I have heard that my tragedies, illnesses, abuse etc. are cast upon me because maybe I am not virtuous enough? I’ve even heard that maybe I am cursed because I do not have enough faith? A friend of mine had someone in a local market say that they were going to “cast away the devil in her” because she carries a cane. I have had people say that they want to “lay hands upon me and pray upon me, because I am afflicted”, they feel that their prayers will “cast out evil spirits, or evilness that has caused my afflictions”. There was another who told me that I don’t “have enough God in my life” and therefore I have “so many tragedies” and it is because I “have not forgiven my abusers in this life”.
…Sometimes I feel that over zealous, “fundamentalists”, who are excited about God’s miracles, try to “play God” in peoples lives. For instance, I heard about an 18 year old girl who went to a Christian camp and was told that her younger brother need not have died from Cancer, if only the family had more faith! WHAT? You NEVER know who is going to be stricken with an affliction, an illness, disease or grief. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you say. I am a “Chemo Angel”. I get assigned a person who’s going through chemo therapy and I send them small gifts & cards of cheer. Right now I have a small, 3 year old girl, with “Langerhans cell Histiocytosis (LCH) “, a form of childhood cancer. Could anyone say that she is ill because she doesn’t have enough Faith or that she’s done something to wrong God and he is “disappointed” in her? Can you say that she has had cancer for 3 out of her 4 years of life, because her family doesn’t have enough faith? NO, that would be cruel and judgemental!
First of all, none of the statements about “illness being due to a lack of Faith”, are accurate. Look at Job and all that he went through! Job was persecuted because of his faith in God. Job was given an “affliction”, not because he was “cursed” and certainly not by his own fault. Three of Job’s friends came to comfort him at the beginning of his worst pain and loss! They were sure that Job was sick and suffering because of the sins he had committed during his life. They told him that “righteous people don’t suffer”. Job always continued to say that he had done nothing sinful or wrong. In the Bible it does not say that a lack of healing is equal to a lack of faith! God can choose not to heal the faithful, but it is not connected to a lack of faith.
It is cruel, unloving, unkind and just wrong, to say that someone has a lack of faith and is ill, or stricken with loss and tragedy in life because they don’t have enough prayer, faith or enough love of Jesus Christ. To accost anyone in such a judgemental way does not help but only makes them feel marginalized and more alone. There are many different faiths in our society. Each Religion has its own set of beliefs, rules and rituals. I’m not here to judge any of these Faiths or beliefs, but I am here to say that nobody is sick because of their belief system or lack of faith. People don’t live with chronic pain day in and day out due to any Religious affiliations or lack thereof. We don’t use a cane, a wheelchair or a walker because we do not pray enough. It does not help a person with chronic pain and illness, to approach them and say any of the words that I’ve stated above. If you choose to pray for someone, then you can do that. But don’t try to push guilt and more pain onto anyone who’s already suffering. That doesn’t help, it only hurts and makes things much worse. Please try to remember to treat others as you would wish to be treated.
Suzanne has lived with a Systemic CRPS & several other chronic pain illnesses since a MVA in 2002. Prior to being disabled from chronic pain, she was an Interpreter for the Deaf at a hospital & worked with Deaf children. Since 2005, Suzanne’s been a patient Health advocate, support group leader & Mentor. She continues doing these things today, but also does public speaking, awareness events and she’s a Writer/blogger & an Ambassador for the U.S.Pain Foundation.
For entertainment she creates advocacy videos & uplifting ASL cover song videos on You tube and she writes in her own blog Tears Of Truth (Suzydukettes.wordpress.com).