Every morning is a challenge right now.
My friends with auto immunes know this. These nasty things do a number on your insides, whether it’s achy muscles and joints, or wacky stomach issues. Either way, there’s always something trying to keep you down. And while you look okay on the outside, the struggle on the inside remains.
Auto immunes attack each person differently and my body had a very outward response—the loss of my hair. For me that created another trial. Not only was I getting up, getting kids off to school and going to work while fighting my body, I was wrestling with looking in the mirror and resisting the urge to hide. Yep. Just stay home and hide.
Every day I confront that issue. The image I see in the mirror is not me, not who I am at my core. But after much prayer, I realize that if I did hide, I would be letting illness win. So I fight. I fight the aches and pains, I fight the changing foods I can handle, and most of all I fight my pride in the form of vanity.
Because if I don’t fight, I have found I’m missing out on where other people might need me. Whether it’s helping a student with a bloody nose, or listening to another who’s had a bad day, my interaction with humanity is what I’m being called to do as a Christian.
I’m not naïve. If I wasn’t there to help that student with their bloody nose or bad day, someone else most likely would, but it’s the sharing in human suffering, the camaraderie of those struggling on the same life journey that allows me to live freely. That solidarity is what feeds my soul. It feeds us all.
Stories and movies based on someone’s epic journey to help others are always in demand. Why? Because they show humanity at its best. We are meant for relationship, we are meant for each other. Everyone needs to be reminded of that human bond at times, especially during our times of tribulation.
I recently talked with a friend who’s in charge of personnel at work. She had to lay off some employees and it hurts her heart. Another friend is watching her mother and father slowly deteriorate and can’t do a thing about it. Yet another friend is facing a pregnancy in which they have been told their little one will only live a few short hours after birth because of a defect. And yet another friend is suffering the death of a spouse lost too early in their relationship.
What can we do in the face of so much pain? More specifically, what can I do—especially on those days when I feel achy and can’t move or vanity strikes me and I want to hide?
Matthew 16:24 quotes Jesus as saying, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
My cross right now is this auto immune and I have no recourse except to bear it. But I can do that for others. If Christ suffered for me and asks me to walk alongside him with my cross, then it follows I can suffer for others. I can turn that suffering into prayer.
Each and every one of us has a different way in which we talk to our Creator. We have different ideas about our God and how He connects with us. But we all have something in common. We are all created by God for God.
With that knowledge comes power. Our common power is prayer. Whether it’s prayer by laying hands on someone, prayer in community, or prayer by ourselves because we are sick, it’s everyone’s secret superpower.
And here’s another secret. Suffering itself can be prayer. When we offer it up for another, we are saying, “Jesus, I recognize your suffering. I could never suffer as much as you did in your Passion, but I am suffering, and I offer it for my friend who suffers. Please take this suffering as prayer and help them.”
So the next time you feel useless, you are sick and cannot move, or you are feeling alone, use your superpower. You may never know how your prayer in suffering will affect another, but leave that part up to God. If Jesus asks us to pick up our cross, certainly he will not ask us to do it in vain.